Program Masters
Field of Study Bible
Class# B 430
Location MTS room 101 (9/16 MTS room 320)
Start Date 9.7.2010
End Date 12.10.2010
Time 9:00-11:50a.
Day Thu

Course Description Masters Level

McCormick Theological Seminary


Course Number and Title: The Psalms B430


Faculty: Melody D. Knowles


Term: Fall 2010


Course Description:

The course will combine a study of some of the broader issues of the Book of Psalms (such as the history of interpretation, Hebrew poetry, the Psalter as a collection, the use of history in the Psalms, the use of the Psalms in worship), with exegetical study of individual psalms. 

Throughout the class we also will look at new approaches to Psalm study that have emerged in the last 10 years (including reception history, poetic approaches, use of historical narratives, feminist, multi-cultural, and urban approaches, etc.), as well as new resources for study (Robert Alter’s new translation in The Book of Psalms that emphasizes the texts’ rhythm and syntax, and the English translation of a new scholarly commentary, Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger, Psalms 2 emphasizing the shape and shaping of the collection, form criticism, historical background, reception history [LXX, Targum, NT] and theological significance).

The class will be a mix of plenary sessions and discussion of the texts in smaller groups, and will often include a short period of worship.

                Although this class does not require Hebrew as a pre-requisite, there will be opportunity to work with the Hebrew text throughout the course.  You will not be penalized in any way for not knowing Hebrew, but if you took Hebrew, you will be encouraged to continue your work with the language. 


Course Objectives:

At the end of the class, students should have a general familiarity with the contents of the Psalter and psalm types and some sense of the hermeneutics of interpreting the Psalms (including traditional and emerging approaches) (M.Div. outcome 3). In addition, students should have  a detailed exegesis and interpretation of a number of psalms (M.Div outcome 3, MTS outcome 3), and a fuller awareness of the place of the psalms in worship and life (both ancient and contemporary; M.Div outcome 5).


Masters Program Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes established for each degree program are below. The ones that are underlined are those addressed by the course above. Because a course may be taken by students in any masters degree program, outcomes in more than one degree program may be addressed by this course.


M.Div. Learning Outcomes            

  1. Lead communities of faith with integrity, imagination and compassion.
  2. Perform the skills related to nurturing the life of faith (for self and others) including preaching, teaching, care-giving, leading public worship and public ministries.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the Bible and Christian traditions and the ability to interpret texts and practices.
  4. Work and worship with people from diverse backgrounds (racial, ethnic, religious) informed by knowledge from cross-cultural and anti-racist perspectives.
  5. Analyze social locations and cultural contexts in order to develop contextual forms of Christian ministry.
  6. Be proficient in the theological and ethical reflection related to situations and decisions in local, national and global contexts.
  7. Practice appropriate habits of spiritual formation and self-care and possess a growing, healthy sense of vocational identity.

MTS Learning Outcomes

  1. Exhibit the ability to interpret and teach Christian traditions, texts, and practices that nurture the life of faith and scholarship in themselves and the communities they serve.
  2. Articulate a point of view effectively and coherently in spoken and written communication.
  3. Engage in theological research and analysis based upon an argument and construct a theological essay or thesis article.



MA in Discipleship Development Learning Outcomes

  1. Teach basic concepts of Christian belief, traditions and practices.
  2. Equip others to engage in a variety of spiritual practices (such as prayer, hospitality, or worship).
  3. Plan and lead programs of Christian formation in a variety of settings.
  4. Analyze and evaluate resources and practices for Christian formation.


MA in Urban Ministry Learning Outcomes

  1. Examine and analyze urban contexts using Chicago as a laboratory / case study.
  2. Draw on biblical and theological resources to reflect ethically on issues of church and society.
  3. Demonstrate capacity to engage in cross-cultural ministries.
  4. Evaluate skills and strategies to organize communities and access political power in urban settings.


Primary Texts

I. Required Texts

Robert Alter, The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary (New York: Norton, 2007, ISBN 0393337049).

William P. Brown, Seeing the Psalms: A Theology of Metaphor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2002, ISBN 0664225020).

W. Brueggemann, Psalms and the Life of Faith (P.D. Miller, ed.; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1995, ISBN 0800627334).

Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Erich Zenger.  Psalms 2.  Translated by Linda M. Maloney (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005, ISBN 0800660617).

II Recommended Books (on reserve or in the reference section of JKM):

Leslie C. Allen, Psalms 101-150 (WBC 21; Waco: Word, 1983, ISBN 0785247734).

Peter C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50 (WBC 19; Waco: Word, 1983, ISBN 0785250131).

Hans-Joakim Kraus, Psalms 1-59 and Psalms 60-150 (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1989,                           ISBNs 0800695038 and 0800695046)

James Luther Mays, Psalms (Interpretation; Louisville: John Knox, 1994, ISBN 080423115X).

Marvin E. Tate, Psalms 51-100 (WBC 20; Waco: Word, 1990, ISBN 0849902193).

Bernhard W. Anderson, Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today (revised and expanded

edition; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983, ISBN 0664258328). 

James L. Crenshaw, The Psalms: An Introduction (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001, ISBN 0802808549).

Patrick D. Miller, Jr., Interpreting the Psalms (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986, ISBN 0800618963).

Stephen Breck Reid, Listening In: A Multicultural Reading of the Psalms (Nashville: Abingdon, 1997, ISBN 0687011949).

Klaus Seybold, Introducing the Psalms  (Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1990, ISBN 056729174X).

Claus Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms (trans. Keith R. Crim and Richard N. Soulen; Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981 [1965], ISBN 0804217920).

Roger Van Harn and Brent Strawn (eds.), Psalms for Preaching and Worship: A Lectionary Commentary (2009, ISBN 0802863213).

J. Clinton McCann and James C. Howell, Preaching the Psalms (Abingdon Press, 2002, ISBN 0687044995).

Ellen Davis, Wondrous Depth: Preaching the Old Testament (Louisville: Westminster, 2005, ISBN 0664228593).

Approximate amount of work per week students can expect (reading, writing, etc.)

About 100 pages of reading, not including the research needed for the exegesis papers.

Course Assignments and Projects

Psalms in worship report: a one-to-two page report  on the use of Psalms in a worship service or ministry encounter in your faith community.

An original Psalm (lament, hymn, or praise, perhaps incorporating historical reflection). 

2 drafts of a 10-12 page exegesis paper (you will hand in a polished first draft of this on Oct 29, and, on the basis of the professor’s comments and your further research, you will hand in a polished second draft when the course is over).