A number of the Psalms take the form of acrostics, in other words they make use of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, one by one, to begin a verse or series of verses (see earlier article on acrostics). This poetic device raises complications for the poet. This post uses this device to identify 26 psalm books (well 22 thanks to the letters I, U, X and Y!). Of course the constraint is perhaps to constraining for some letters of the English alphabet! If you disagree with a particular letter, feel free to lament to MarkWhiting@psaltermark for some dialogue. Please note that the individual choices contribute to the whole in an attempt to provide a miniature rounded Psalms library.
Alter, R., The Book of Psalms: A translation with commentary, New York: Norton, 2007.
Where else can we begin, but with the Psalms themselves? This translation is both thought provoking and beautiful in equal measure.
Brueggemann, W., The Psalms and the Life of Faith, P. D. Miller (Ed.), Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995.
The first article in this collection bridges the Then and Now in a way which will change your use of the Psalms for ever.
Craigie, P. C., Psalms 1-50, Word Biblical Commentary, Waco: Word Publishing, 1983.
A commentary by a master of exposition, but only one third of the Psalter is covered by Allen.
Day, J., Psalms, Old Testament Guides, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992.
A helpful concise introduction to the Psalms. It majors on genre and does this well.
Eaton, J. H., The Psalms: A historical and spiritual commentary with an introduction and new translation, London: T & T Clark International, 2007.
A wonderful example of how academic rigour and spiritual devotion can come together as a powerful whole.
Futato, M. D., Interpreting the Psalms: An exegetical handbook, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007.
A serious engagement with the Hebrew text for the novice.
Goldingay, J., Psalms, Three volumes, Grand Rapids:Baker Books, 2006.
These three volumes are arguably the best evangelical commentary on the Psalter by a single author.
Holladay, W. L., The Psalms Through Three Thousand Years: Prayerbook of a cloud of witnesses, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.
There is no other book quite like this tour de force through the history of the Psalms.
Johnston, P. S. and Firth, D., Interpreting the Psalms: Issues and approaches, Nottingham: Apollos, 2006.
This is a great introduction to the diverse ways that Psalms can and have been interpreted.
Kraus, H-J., Theology of the Psalms, translated by Keith Crim, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.
This thematic exploration of the Psalms is an enriching and rewarding read from a scholar who you will know has lived in the Psalms.
Lewis, C. S., Reflections on the Psalms, London: Fontana Books, 1976.
A classic book on the Psalms. It’s thought provoking but should not be taken as the last word on the Psalms.
Mays, J. L., Psalms, Interpretation Bible Commentary, Louisville: John Knox Press, 2006.
One of the very best single-volume commentaries on the Psalms.
Nasuti, H. P., Tradition History and the Psalms of Asaph, Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988.
OK let’s be honest, I have not read this nor do I own it – it is the best I can do for the letter N!
Oesterley, W. O. E., A Fresh Approach to the Psalms, New York: Scribner, 1937.
This is a space filler in this acrostic, it has some value if you want a snapshot of what Psalms scholarship was like when form criticism was coming to the fore. It is far from fresh now!
Peterson, E., Answering God:The Psalms as tools for prayer, New York: HarperOne, 1991.
Who better than Eugene Peterson to set us up to pray the Psalms so that we might be transformed by these ancient poems.
Quaster, J. and Burghardt, W.-J., St Augustine and the Psalms, Volume One, Mahweh: Paulist Press, 1960.
Augustine was serious about the Psalms. He is the earliest Christian theologian for whom a complete commentary of the Psalms has survived.
Ryrie, A., Deliver us from Evil: Reading the Psalms as poetry, London: Darton Longman & Todd, 2005.
An outstanding reminder of how we need to take the Psalms as poetry without doing violence to their use and meaning.
Spurgeon, C. H., The Treasury of David, Three volumes, Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004.
The devotional richness of this work makes it a worthwhile companion to more modern commentaries.
Tate, M. E., Psalms 51-100, Word Bible Commentary, Dallas: Word Books, 1991.
A good solid commentary on the Psalms.
VanGemeren, W. A., Psalms: Volume 5 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.
A commentary which contends with Goldingay head-to-head and comes a very close second (in my view).
Wilson, G. H., The Editing of the Hebrew Psalter, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1986.
A scholarly work which has reset the course of all later Psalms research and has implications for seeing the Psalter as a whole. This is a work only for those of a scholarly persuasion.
Zenger, E., A God of Vengeance? Understanding the Psalms of divine wrath, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1996.
The Psalms provide a wonderful resource for understanding our God. This book helps us use them wisely in this respect.