Course Description

The Psalms of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament have a special part in the life of the synagogue and church. A major goal of this course is therefore to gain perspective on how the Psalter has fed and informed Jewish and Christian faith in various periods: in biblical times, Rabbinic and Patristic periods, the Middle Ages, the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and finally the early and late modern periods. By interacting with recent research into the shape and shaping of the Psalter we will also consider the anthology’s arrangement. Study will generally occur in one of two modes. First, secondary reading and class discussion will look at hermeneutical and historical factors involved in reading and understanding the Psalter. Second, seminars will help put theory into practice by featuring about a dozen particular psalms in connection with their reception history.

Download the Syllabus (Winter 2017)

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Required Texts (Winter 2017)*

Shape & Shaping
Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, ed. The Shape and Shaping of the Book of Psalms: The Current State of Scholarship. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2014. ISBN 978-1628370010.
Order it in Canada or the USA.
Two Psalms
Susan Gillingham. A Journey of Two Psalms: The Reception of Psalms 1 and 2 in Jewish and Christian Tradition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN 978-0199652419.
Order it in Canada or the USA.

Please note that textbook selections for my courses often change with each iteration of the course.

Making Sense
Margot Northey, Bradford A. Anderson, and Joel N. Lohr. Making Sense in Religious Studies: A Student’s Guide to Research and Writing. 3rd ed. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 2019.
This title is optional but highly recommended. It includes basic advice on things like reading religious texts, writing essays and book reviews, making oral presentations, and learning languages. It should help you master fundamental tasks in nearly any course in religion or theology.
The SBL Handbook of Style, 2nd Edition, is the definitive style manual for biblical studies and related disciplines.
A blog ( and free Student Supplement (PDF) should cover the issues most common to term papers. The AST library copy is in the reference section at PN 147 S26 2014.
Serious students of biblical studies will want a copy of their own. Order one from SBL Press or elsewhere online. ISBN 978-1589839649.
See my resources page for further advice on writing, style, and research.

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