The Psalms have given voice to the prayers and petitions of generations of Jews and Christians alike. They represent the deepest longings of kings and desperate men, the righteous and the penitent, all "seeking the face of God" (27:8 and 105:4). But they often seem formidable poetically, as finely wrought articulations expressions of both grief and piety, but also ethically, where lamentation turns into imprecation. What's the best way to access the meaning and significance of the Psalms? How does a commentary function alongside our reading of the text itself? And how did the early Christian witnesses summon or evoke their images and motifs in their writings? Why did they insist on reading their Christology back into the Psalms?
We touch on the answers to these questions and others in an hour-long conversation with Tremper Longman III
about his new book, Psalms: An Introduction and Commentary
(IVP Academic, 2014) in the Tyndale Old Testament Commentary series, published by IVP Academic. We talk about the peculiar enterprise of writing Biblical commentary, the challenge of writing about the Psalms in particular, and Longman's own personal arc from meeting Billy Graham to learning Akkadian and studying Babylonian mythology and literature.
Tremper Longman is the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College. Tremper has authored or co-authored more than 20 books, including commentaries on Song of Songs
, Jeremiah and Lamentations
, and Job
. His scholarship has ranged widely from the literary study of the Bible to history and historiography, most notably expressed in his two textbooks A Biblical History of Israel
, with Iain Provan and Phil Long, and Introduction to the Old Testament
, with Raymond B. Dillard.
Professor Longman was one of the main translators of the popular New Living Translation
and has served as a consultant on other popular translations of the Bible including the Message and the Holman Standard Bible. He earned a BA in Religion at Ohio Wesleyan University, an MDiv from Westminster Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in ancient Near Eastern studies from Yale University.