TWU’s Master of Arts in Biblical Studies Hosts, Thesis Defense, “Northern Psalms in Southern Contexts: Defining an Historical Setting for the Psalms of Asaph”
By: Spencer Elliott
Supervisor: Craig Broyles, PhD
Second Reader: Dirk Buchner, PhD
Exam Chair: Craig Allert, PhD
The psalms of Asaph (50, 73-83) present an intriguing problem for their interpreters. Though these psalms show every sign of being used in the temple at Jerusalem, they contain a ponderous amount of traditions, geographic references, and names that would be more appropriate in Israel’s northern kingdom. The haphazard geographic and tradition-history provenance of these psalms is best reconciled by assuming a fundamental mixture between northern and southern material in the growing and cosmopolitan city of pre-exilic Jerusalem, beginning in the time of Hezekiah. As northern psalmists moved to Jerusalem after the conquests of the Assyrian empire in the late 8th c. BCE, they brought their traditions of worship and assimilated these traditions within the liturgies of Jerusalem’s temple. These psalms illumine how northern Israelites accommodated to their new Jerusalemite setting after 722 BCE, and how their psalms reflect their experience of forced displacement.