Saturday, August 4, 2012

1) Cursing Psalms - Introduction

Here is an odd picture of me giving a presentation
on the Cursing Psalms
Images of violence fill the Book of Psalms – violence perpetrated both by God and by humans sanctioned by God. In the following series of posts, I will be concerned primarily with prayer for violence against one’s enemies, which is known as a curse or imprecation. Some of these passages in the Psalms, with their extreme images (for example, breaking teeth, bathing feet in blood, burying with burning coals, and breaking the heads of babies) can be quite shocking to our sensibilities, especially if we use the Psalms as a book of prayer. For this reason, the modern Roman Church has sometimes omitted these passages from its liturgical prayer. However, as a member of the Byzantine Church, which is deeply steeped in the tradition of praying the entire Psalter, this solution does not satisfy me in the least. Therefore, I will first consider these passages tomorrow from a historical-critical point of view and attempt to discover, as far as possible, the intended meaning of the text in the historical context. In the following days, I will consider how the Church Fathers and later commentators have reinterpreted and allegorized these passages and thus incorporated them into the prayer of the Church.


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