Uploaded by Jeff Oetter

Thesis topic: What psalms are classified as imprecatory

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Thesis Proposal:
Several attempts have been made to define the category known as the Imprecatory
Psalms. Some of these have been cited widely by many scholars, such as A. Luc who
has provided a detailed list of imprecations in the psalter, and D. Firth who has examined
why the effort itself is problematic. However, there is no consensus on what is, and is
not, an Imprecatory Psalm. This paper will examine several factors in an attempt to
establish which psalms can be classified as imprecatory. In an effort to move towards
an answer, three questions will be explored: 1) What does the term imprecatory mean?
2) What is an acceptable rubric to be applied to each psalm to determine if it should be
classified as imprecatory? 3) In what context should this rubric be applied. For the first
question, the word imprecario (imprecation or curse), will be evaluated and then
discussed in terms of its ANE background. This will rely heavily on T. Crawford, A Kitz,
and C. Mitchell who have surveyed the relevant research on this, as well as H. G. Peels
who has also examined this in great detail, primarily as it relates to ‫נקם‬. Then, to establish
a rubric for the second question, the most prominent problem is determining what
constitutes a request in Hebrew when grammatical ambiguity exists. This, of course,
relates primarily to the determination of a jussive verb in roots with no lexical distinction
between a jussive and an imperfect. Finally, a discussion of which context is
determinative for this evaluation will be given. This discussion will highlight the
differences between the original composition, the canonical psalm, the canonical psalm
within the purposeful arrangement of the psalter, and a variety of liturgical settings as it
relates to the aforementioned rubric for determining an imprecatory psalm.
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