The Psalter is poetry which erupts at moments of emotional intensity; a transcript from real life; poetical accompaniment to real events and real experiences that appeals to the human being. They are completely and explicitly a human effort to express thought, anger, joy, thanksgiving, lament, doubt and more to God. This unit will introduce the student to poetic literature in the Hebrew Bible, poetic devices and forms of expression, especially as they are found in the Book of Psalms. We will study the formation and development of the Psalter and attend to a full range of forms/genres of the Psalms, their structure, setting and their potential functions within the historical experience of Israel. The course also seeks to provide critical knowledge of the theological themes inherent in the Psalms and explore the relevance, use and functions of the Psalms in today’s context and for preaching.

Unit code: BA3020P

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Old Testament

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Demonstrate knowledge of the formation and development of the Psalter


Analyse the various types of Psalms: their form, content, settings and potential functions


Critically engage the Psalms and their varied theological themes and positions


Apply the Psalms and their message to contemporary situations

Unit sequence

18 points of Old Testament Study


Lectures, Seminars and Tutorials

Indicative Bibliography

  • Brown, William P., ed. The Oxford Handbook of the Psalms. Oxford: OUP, 2014.
  • Brown, William P. Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002.
  • Brueggemann, W., and Billinger, William H., Jr. Psalms. New Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. (recommended for purchase)
  • deClaisse-Walford, Nancy L. Introduction to the Psalms. St Louis: Chalice, 2004.
  • Gerstenberger, E. Psalms 1–60 with an Introduction to Cultic Poetry, Part 1, FOTL. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988.
  • Gerstenberger, E. Psalms and Lamentations, Part 2. FOTL. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.
  • Goldingay, John. Psalms. Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.
  • Goldingay, John. Psalms. Volume 2: Psalms 42-89. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007.
  • Goldingay, John. Psalms. Volume 3: Psalms 90-150. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008.
  • Jacobson, Rolf A., ed. Soundings in the Theology of Psalms: Perspectives and Methods in Contemporary Scholarship. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011.
  • Lee, Nancy C. Lyrics of Lament: From Tragedy to Transformation. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2010.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Variant 1


2500 word exegetical essay on a Psalm with contextual comments

2500 50.0

2500 word essay on a theme in the Psalms

2500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 1 Sep, 2022

Unit record last updated: 2022-09-01 15:14:12 +1000