Psalms as a Grammar for Faith
Prayer and Praise
Imprint: Baylor University Press
152 Pages, 5.50 x 8.50 in
- Published: October 2019
The Psalms, gritty and bold prayers of a people seeking to be obedient to a powerful and compassionate God, collectively illustrate what a real faith in the living God looks like. In Psalms as a Grammar for Faith: Prayer and Praise, W. H. Bellinger Jr. traces the way the Psalms exemplify and create a grammar for living a life of faith.
Bellinger combines his years of study of the Psalms and his own theological sensibility to explore both the genre and shape of the Psalter. He focuses upon the themes of lament and of praise. Bellinger addresses the presence of enemies and the prayers for vengeance throughout the Psalms, concluding that these lamentations exemplify a covenant theology of prayer. He then examines the psalms of praise that teach the art of worship. Various kinds of praise in the Psalter serve as examples of adoration—proper ways to thank almighty God for the goodness of life and for the divine mystery. Finally, Bellinger explores the five divisions of the Psalms, arguing for a powerful and intentional anthology initially connected to ancient Israel’s encounter with defeat and exile.
Bellinger concludes that the Psalter directs readers to use the psalms of lament and praise as models for life, depending on God’s justice in times of anger, singing God’s praise in times of thanksgiving, and always acknowledging God as Lord over hardships and blessings. Only in this way, he argues, can humans live the faith of the Psalms—a faith defined by complete dependence on God.
1. The Book of Psalms
2. Out of the Depths
3. The Praise of God in the Psalms
4. The Shape of the Grammar
5. The Movement of the Grammar
In this readily accessible and winsome introduction, Dr. Bellinger makes a compelling case that the Psalms provide a ‘grammar of faith’ for all seasons of life, from plea to praise, all intermixed with lament and protest. It is, in fact, a grammar of transformation for communities of faith in such a time as this.~William P. Brown, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
Bellinger’s urging here is that the Book of Psalms, beyond our characteristic personal and devotional use of it, should be a major resource and guide for the public worship and public proclamation of the church. Bellinger brings to this task both his long years of critical learning and his acute theological sensibility. His concluding pages concerning the flow of the canon break fresh ground. This book will be welcomed by all those who care about the worship, the preaching, and the faithfulness of the church.~Walter Brueggemann, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
Bill Bellinger, seasoned psalm scholar and dedicated churchman, has produced in A Grammar of Faith a succinct and highly readable examination of the book of Psalms. The volume is not a commentary or an introductory textbook; rather, it examines and models various ways of reading and understanding the psalms as well as addressing some of the major issues confronting psalm scholarship today. The volume will appeal to both student and pastor and will make an excellent classroom resource.~Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford, Carolyn Ward Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and Director of the Masters of Theological Studies degree program, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University
...A short volume that would make an excellent companion text for individual or group study of the psalms.~John R. Barker, The Bible Today
William Bellinger, a seasoned psamls scholar, in this brief but thoughtful book, builds off the notion of 'grammar', something that, according to Bellinger, Ludwig Wittgenstein 'suggests serves the purpose of characterizing what is being discussed'. As such, Bellinger argues that the psalms provide such a grammar, a grammar that allows us to sing, pray, and speak our faith.~David G. Barker, Evangelical Quarterly
In this slender but learned volume, a leading biblical scholar introduces students, ministers, and thoughtful lay readers to the contemporary study of arguably the most treasured book of the Old Testament.~Mark W. Hamilton, Restoration Quarterly