Psalm 151

Psalm 151

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Psalm 151 is the name given to a short psalm
Psalms
The Book of Psalms , commonly referred to simply as Psalms, is a book of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Bible...

 that is found in most copies of the Septuagint but not in the Masoretic Text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

 of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

. The title given to this psalm in the Septuagint indicates that it is supernumerary
Supernumerary
A Supernumerary is an additional member of an organization. A supernumerary is also a non-regular member of a staff, a member of the staff or an employee who works in a public office who is not part of the manpower complement...

, and no number is affixed to it: "This Psalm is ascribed to David and is outside the number. When he slew Goliath in single combat". It is included also in some manuscripts of the Peshitta
Peshitta
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

.

The Eastern Orthodox Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 accepts Psalm 151 as canonical
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

. Roman Catholics, Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, and most Jews
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 consider it apocrypha
Apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....

l. However, it is found in an appendix in some Catholic Bibles, such as certain editions of the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, as well as in some ecumenical translations, such as the New Revised Standard Version
New Revised Standard Version
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible is an English translation of the Bible released in 1989 in the USA. It is a thorough revision of the Revised Standard Version .There are three editions of the NRSV:...

.

Dead Sea scrolls discovery


Although for many years scholars believed that Psalm 151 might have been an original Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 composition and that “there is no evidence that Psalm 151 ever existed in Hebrew”, we now know from the Dead Sea scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

 that this psalm did in fact exist in Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 and was a part of the psalter used by the Qumran
Qumran
Qumran is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea, near the Israeli settlement and kibbutz of Kalia...

 community.

Psalm 151 appears along with a number of canonical and non-canonical psalms in the Dead Sea scroll 11QPs(a) (named also 11Q5), a first century AD scroll discovered in 1956. The editio princeps of this manuscript was first published in 1963 by J. A. Sanders. This scroll contains two short Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 psalms which scholars now agree served as the basis for Psalm 151.

One of these Hebrew psalms, known as “Psalm 151a”, is reflected in verses 1–5 of the Greek Psalm 151, while verses 6 onward are derived from the other Hebrew psalm, known as “Psalm 151b” (which is only partially preserved). The composer has brought the two Hebrew psalms together in a manner that significantly changes their meaning and structure, but the influence of the Hebrew originals is still readily apparent. In some ways the Greek version of Psalm 151 does not seem to make good sense, and the Hebrew text provides a basis for a better understanding of what transpired in the creation of the Greek version. In comparison to the Hebrew text Sanders regards the Greek text of this psalm to be in places “desiccated”, “meaningless”, “truncated”, “ridiculous”, “absurd”, “jumbled”, and “disappointingly different”, all this the result of its having been “made from a truncated amalgamation of the two Hebrew psalms”. On details of translation, structure, and meaning of this psalm see especially the works of Skehan, Brownlee, Carmignac, Strugnell, Rabinowitz, Dupont-Sommer, and Flint.

Content


The title of the psalm claims that it was written by King David after his battle with Goliath.
As it stands in the Greek text in this psalm, David rejoices that God favors him and hears his prayers and worship. David states that he was the least of his brothers, and yet God chose him to be anointed king (vv. 1-5). It goes on to commemorate how David cut off Goliath's head with the Philistine's own sword, and thereby removed Israel's disgrace (vv. 6-7).

The psalm assumes familiarity with and draws ideas and phraseology from elsewhere in the Bible.

Cultural influence


At the beginning of his first address to his Council of State, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

 recited this psalm in total.
On the TV show "Touched by an Angel
Touched by an Angel
Touched by an Angel is an American drama series that premiered on CBS on September 21, 1994 and ran for 211 episodes and nine seasons until its conclusion on April 27, 2003. Created by John Masius and produced by Martha Williamson, the series stars Roma Downey, as an angel named Monica, and Della...

 in Season 5, Episode 9 (originally aired 15 November 1998) is Titled "Psalm 151" with a song sung by Wynonna Judd called Testify to Love and in the episode she composes the song for her dying son.

External links

NRSV