The Power of Psalms in Post-Biblical Judaism

Liturgy, Ritual and Community


The powerful poetry of the Hebrew Psalms articulates a unique range of experience, even in translation. They explore the deepest concerns of individuals and communities. They are central to the performance of religion for both Jews and Christians. New discoveries, such as the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, have transformed our view of their role in Judaism, as has modern re-evaluation of the complicated relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Here a group of leading scholars sheds fresh light on the uses of the Psalms in post-biblical Jewish life in a multi-cultural world.

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Claudia D. Bergmann, Ph.D. (2006), University of Chicago, is Professurvertreterin at the University of Paderborn. Her last monograph is Festmahl ohne Ende. Apokalyptische Vorstellungen vom Speisen in der Kommenden Welt im antiken Judentum und ihre biblischen Wurzeln (Kohlhammer, 2019). Tessa Rajak, D.Phil. (1974), University of Oxford, is Professor Emeritus, University of Reading and Senior Research Fellow of Somerville College, Oxford. Her books include Josephus; The Jewish Dialogue with Greece and Rome; and Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible in the Graeco-Roman World. Benedikt Kranemann, Ph.D (1989), Universität Münster, is Professor of Liturgical Studies at Universität Erfurt. He has published monographs, collections and articles about history, theology and today´s practice of Christian worship. Rebecca Ullrich, M.A., Freie Universität Berlin, holds a Postdoc in Jewish Studies. She wrote her dissertation (to be published in 2023) on the Genizah fragments of the Sheiltot of Rav Ahai Gaon and has published several articles on Genizot. Her latest publication appeared in the co-edited volume “Genisa-Blätter IV” (2023).
Editors and Contributors

Part 1: Introduction

Introduction: New Approaches
Tessa Rajak

Prologue: Looking Back at Patients’ Prayers in Babylonian Incantations and Hebrew Individual Complaint
Erhard S. Gerstenberger

Part 2: The Psalms in the Second Temple Period

Building a Community of the Elect through Psalms and Prayers
Liturgy, Education, and Prophetic Interpretation
Mika S. Pajunen

The Motif of the Heavenly Cult in the Psalms and at Qumran
Beate Ego

Retelling Foundational Events in Psalm 106: Experiencing and Remembering the Past
Angela Kim Harkins

The Septuagint Psalms and Their Setting
James K. Aitken

Part 3: The Psalms in Late Antique Religious Poetry

The Psalms Are Not Enough
The Revolution of Hebrew Liturgical Poetry (Piyyut) in Late Antiquity
Ophir Münz-Manor

The Prayers of Moses: Psalm 90 and Moses’s Refusal to Die
Laura S. Lieber

Part 4: The Psalms in Rabbinic and Medieval Judaism and Beyond

The Centrality of Psalms in Judaism and Their Major Interpretations prior to and during the Middle Ages
Approaches, Authorship, Genre, and Polemics
Isaac Kalimi

Psalm 8 as a Case Study in “Embedded” Jewish Commentary
Alan Cooper

The Early Medieval Emergence of Jewish Daily Morning Psalms Recitation, Pesuqe de-Zimra
Ruth Langer

Psalms in Kabbalistic Texts and Ritual
Susanne Talabardon

Index of Sources
Index of Names, Places and Subjects
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