This page is a work in progress. Over time it will become a comprehensive resource. Some of the books have links to reviews I have posted. My No 1 rating system below is my opinion, and is based on personal use.
1. Psalm Introductions
Aitken, J. Psalms for People under Pressure, London: Continuum (2004). This book is difficult to classify. In part this is because of the fame of the author. It is part commentary, part introduction to praying the psalms and part biographical. n my view he has made good judgement, in that there is enough biographical reflection to answer the curiosity of some readers. The biographical elements are, however, never distracting, but rather they are helpful in illustrating the relevance of what Aitken refers to as psalms for people under pressure.
Brueggemann, W., From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms, editor: Brent A. Strawn, Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2014. This is Brueggeman at his best on the Psalms. This is a masterful introduction with the first few chapters in particular capturing the marvel and mystery of the Psalms.
Futato, M. D., Interpreting the Psalms: An Exegetical Handbook, Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2007. This is a small book but it very valuable as an exegetical tool. It provides a very useful introduction to how the Psalms function as Hebrew poetry.
Gillingham, S. E., The Poems and Psalms of the Hebrew Bible, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994. This is hard to beat as a readable yet in-depth examination of the Psalms (and other similar OT compositions). No 1 Academic Introduction.
Holladay, W. L., The Psalms Through Three Thousand Years: Prayerbook of a Cloud of Witnesses, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996. This is a brilliant book in its concept of tracing the Psalms from their origins to what they are today.
Hunter, A. G., An Introduction to the Psalms, London: T&T Clark, 2008. This is aimed at someone meeting the psalms academically for the first time. Its brevity is both its strength and weakness depending on what the reader is looking for. It pays little attention to canonical approaches.
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.
Peterson, E., Answering God: The Psalms as Tools for Prayer, New York: HarperOne, 1991. This is not a solid introduction as such. Highly recommended, however, as a compelling introduction to taking the Psalms seriously as prayers for today. No 1 Prayer Introduction.
Prévost, J-P., A Short Dictionary of the Psalms, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1997. An intriguing introduction to the Psalter via an exploration of 40 key Hebrew words. A great assistance in making the psalms your prayers.
Robertson, O. P., The Flow of the Psalms, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2015. In many ways this book is an excellent exploration of recent scholarship on the Psalter as a Book. Sometimes one feels that Robertson is claiming too much as 90% of the scholarship originates with well known figures such as Gerald Wilson. The main novelty is that modern scholarship’s identification of a complex editing process is rather unconvincingly passed to a single Ezra-like scribe.
Sheriffs, D., The Friendship of the Lord: An Old Testament Spirituality, Carlisle: Paternoster Press, 1996. This book covers the whole of the OT with serious attention to the Psalms as a key component. I’ve singled it out, despite its broader remit, as its almost unique in combining serious scholarship with deep spirituality.
Woodhouse, P., Life in the Psalms, Bloomsbury Continuum, 2016. This book is a reflective guide through the Book of Psalms. Designed as a Lent Book but could be used at any time of the year.
2. General Resources
Alter, R., The Book of Psalms: A translation with commentary, New York: Norton, 2007. This translation is both thought provoking and beautiful in equal measure. No 1 Fresh Translation.
3. Academic Resources
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. No 1 Academic Resource.
Day, J., Psalms, Old Testament Guides, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992. A helpful concise academic introduction to the Psalms. It majors on genre and does this well.
DeClaisse-Walford, Nancy L., Reading from the Beginning, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1997. A thought-provoking proposal on the formation of the Psalter.
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.
Pribbenow, Brad, Prayerbook of Christ: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christological Interpretation of the Psalms, Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books, 2018. A survey of Bonhoeffer’s work on the Psalms that argues that Bonhoeffer had a Christological understanding of interpreting them that is to some extent a new turn in biblical hermeneutics of the Psalter.
Tucker Jr., Dennis and Bellinger Jr., H. H. (editors), The Psalter as Witness: Theology, Poetry and Genre, Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2017. An advanced exploration of the latest scholarship on the Psalter, centering on the synchronic/canonical approaches.
Ian J. Vaillancourt, The Multifaceted Saviour of Psalms 110 and 118: A Canonical Exegesis, Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2019. Given this book’s subtitle it will come of no surprise that the canonical approach is at the heart of this book. What might be less obvious is just how wide-ranging this work is given its apparent focus on just two psalms. The central aim of this review, therefore, is to highlight its importance to anyone interested in the ongoing development of canonical criticism of the Psalter.
Whiting, M. J., ‘Psalms 1 and 2 as a hermeneutical lens for reading the Psalter’, Evangelical Quarterly, 85 (2013): 246–262.
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.
4. Old Testament Theology and Old Testament Introductions
Barton, J. (editor), The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. A scholarly exploration of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament by over 20 scholars with various faith affiliations and with none.
Brueggemann, W. Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997. A magnum opus exploring the Old Testament in its full breadth. Anyone studying the OT in depth cannot ignore this massive work.
Chapman, S. B. and Sweeney, M. A. (editors), The Cambridge Companion to The Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2016. A scholarly handbook with 23 contributors with diverse faith commitments. Reviewed at length in 3 parts: Part 1—chapters 1–8; Part 2—chapters 9–17; Part 3—chapters 18–23.
Moberly, R. W. L., Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture, Grand Rapids: Blackwell, 2013. An inspiring Christian reading of the Hebrew Bible in eight parts, each inspired by a key text or texts.
Rogerson, J. W., A Theology of the Old Testament: Cultural Memory, Communication and Being Human, London: SPCK, 2009. A stimulating approach to go beyond historical criticism and to discern how the Old Testament can stimulate insight into what it means to be human.