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Psalms in Christian Ministry

Early enrolment for this unit, preferably before mid December, is advisable 

Elective unit for postgraduate

Content: This unit will consider the use of the psalms in a number of areas of Christian ministry and piety. These will include private and public prayer, liturgy, preaching, and pastoral care. Aspects of worship and prayer presumed within the Book of Psalms will be examined as well as the debates over the psalms as ‘Word of God’ and ‘word to God’ in both Christian and Jewish traditions. The major theological themes within the psalter will be examined.

Learning outcomes: Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to demonstrate:

  1. advanced skills in the interpretation of biblical texts;
  2. a sophisticated, critical understanding of the use of the psalms in prayer, liturgy, sermon, and pastoral conversation and guidance;
  3. use of the psalms in Christian ministry with a critical appreciation of the different genres and theological positions within the Psalter;
  4. a detailed working knowledge of the growing body of literature on the psalms in ministry;
  5. the ability to bring the discourse of related areas of theological studies and other disciplines to the study of the use of psalms in ministry.

Pre-requisites: At least two units at second level in biblical studies

Offered: in 2013 as an Intensive over two weeks (Tue 29, Wed 30, Thu 31 Jan, Fri 1 Feb, Mon 4, Tue 5, Thu 7, Fri 8 Feb); 9.30am-1.30pm each day.

Venue: Centre for Theology and Ministry (CTM), 29 College Crescent, Parkville.

Class Time: Eight days of 4 hours each; including lectures, discussions on set readings, group exegesis of psalms, practical sessions, small group work, silent reflection, preparation of written reviews for seminars, seminar notes taking.

Assessment: Assessment will be by portfolio consisting of:

  • 1 x 3000 word exercise on the use of psalms in ministry (prayers, liturgy, critical report on pastoral conversation etc.)
  • 1 x 3000 word essay on the use of psalms in one area of ministry

Faculty: Howard Wallace and Merryl Blair

Select Bibliography:

*Anderson, B. W. and S. Bishop. Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak to us Today. 3rd ed. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000.
Attridge, H.W. and Fassler, M.E. Psalms in Community: Jewish and Christian Textual, Liturgical, and Artistic Traditions. Atlanta: SBL, 2003.
*Bellinger, W. H. Psalms: Reading and Studying the Book of Praises. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1990.
Brueggemann, W. The Psalms and the Life of Faith. Ed. P.D. Miller. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995.
*Crenshaw, J. L. The Psalms: An Introduction. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001.
*deClaisse-Walford, N. L. Introduction to the Psalms. St Louis: Chalice, 2004.
Gillingham, S. Psalms Through the Centuries: Volume 1. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008.
*Murphy, R. E. The Gift of the Psalms. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2001.
Reid, S. B., ed. Psalms and Practice: Worship, Virtue and Authority. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2001.
Wallace, H. N. Words to God, Word from God: The Psalms in the Prayer and Preaching of the Church. London: Ashgate, 2004.