The Book of Psalms is perhaps the most cherished and enjoyed book in the Old Testament. Yet beyond the surface, it is also a vast, complex, and mysterious compilation of the strongest human emotions imaginable.
Invitation to the Psalms asks students to explore and roam widely among the grandeur and beauty of the Psalms. This book introduces the dynamics of the biblical text, helping students become careful and attentive readers, demonstrates how to read Hebrew poetry correctly, explains the Psalter's basic genres, the concept of "the psalmist," the metaphorical world of the Psalms, and the theology of the Psalms.
Enhancing the reader's experience are sidebars, discussion questions, and plenty of examples, and all without detracting from the Psalms themselves. This clear and concise guide is accessible to all serious students of the Bible, and will make reading the Psalms more enjoyable and more comprehensively informed.
The Book of Psalms is perhaps the most cherished book in the Old Testament. In this lively volume, two experienced teachers invite students to read and explore the Psalter and roam widely among its poems. The book introduces the dynamics of the biblical text, helping students become careful and attentive readers. It covers how to read Hebrew poetry, the Psalter's basic genres, the idea of "the psalmist," the metaphorical world of the Psalms, and the theology of the Psalms. Sidebars, discussion questions, and plenty of examples enhance the reading experience. This clear and concise guide is accessible to all serious students of the Bible.
Rolf A. Jacobson is associate professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. His teaching interests include the Psalms, the Old Testament prophets, biblical poetry, biblical theology, and biblical narrative. Karl N. Jacobson is assistant professor of religion at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both authors are ordained pastors. They collaborated on Crazy Book: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Biblical Terms and Crazy Talk: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Theological Terms.
The Jacobsons have written a winsome, accessible introduction to the psalms that invites readers to fresh understanding and engagement. The authors have taken the most characteristic elements of the psalms--parallelism, genre, life setting, and metaphor--and made them understandable in ways that will enhance devotional and liturgical use. Invitation to the Psalms combines discerning theology with a lightheartedness that brings the reader along in doing interpretation in imaginative, real-life ways.
professor emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
The authors have written one of the most accessible introductions to the Psalter available. From the character of the psalms as poetry to their function as a testimony to the God whose ways are at the center of all the psalms, the authors have taken up basic aspects of the psalms in simple, fresh, and genuinely inviting ways. Readers at all levels will enjoy and learn from this presentation of the richness of the psalms.
-Patrick D. Miller,
professor of Old Testament theology emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary
This is the best kind of introduction to a book of the Bible--informative, engaging, scholarly with a light touch, well-calculated to help people read the Bible but not to be a substitute for reading it, and capable of encouraging people to water-ski across the psalms (as the authors themselves put it).
David Allan Hubbard Professor of Old Testament, Fuller Theological Seminary
Invitation to the Psalms does just that in a very winsome fashion. It is most readable, using literary insights from modern poetry to illuminate the character and message of the ancient psalms. It is up-to-date in its scholarship without overburdening the reader with technicalities. In short it is an ideal introduction to interpreting the psalms for individual or classroom use.
tutor in Old Testament, Trinity College Bristol
In their characteristically vivid, lively, engaging, and often humorous way, Rolf and Karl Jacobson succeed wonderfully in their stated goal of enabling readers not only to study the psalms but also to experience them. While this book is aimed at and clearly accessible to the nonspecialist, more advanced students of the psalms, including pastors and teachers in churches and synagogues, will also appreciate and benefit from this volume. Psalms scholars will recognize and appreciate the authors' solid interpretive foundation as well as the careful, concrete, and creative way that they invite a wider audience to experience the riches of the psalms.
-J. Clinton McCann Jr.,
Evangelical Professor of Biblical Interpretation, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri
In this volume, Rolf and Karl Jacobson provide a succinct and approachable guide to understanding the structure and message of the psalms. Students of the book of Psalms often do not have a clear understanding of the nature of Hebrew poetry, the use of imagery in the psalms, and the 'voices' of the psalmists. Or, students overanalyze the psalms and miss the power of their poetic messages. The Jacobsons offer a much-needed middle ground in psalm studies, and Invitation to the Psalms will be a valuable tool in the classroom and the parish for years to come.
-Nancy L. Declaisse-Walford,
Carolyn Ward Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages, McAfee School of Theology
The authors combine their considerable knowledge (and wit!) to pen an insightful volume that is--true to its title--an excellent guide to discovering and engaging the psalms. But the book does even more, helping readers enjoy, experience, and read the psalms more perceptively. Full of insight and exposition of a host of individual psalms and including discussions of psalmic poetry, genres, voicing, metaphors, and theology, this is an ideal first book on the psalms whether for self-study or for teaching. It will also delight and instruct even those already comfortably at home in the Psalter.
-Brent A. Strawn,
associate professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology and Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University
Rolf and Karl Jacobson have written a gem of an introduction to the powerful poetry of the psalms. This work is not only a sure guide to the best of modern scholarship, but it also helps readers develop exactly the sort of informed imagination needed to read and pray the psalms effectively. A work of keen literary insight and rare theological depth, this engaging volume will be of great benefit to both beginners and experienced readers of these important texts.
This is a winsome and inviting book by two specialists who clearly love to read the psalms themselves. Rolf and Karl Jacobson are reliable and friendly guides through the landscape of the psalms, which sometimes seems overly familiar and sometimes rather forbidding. The authors help readers navigate this terrain and emerge on the other side richer for it, well equipped and eager to delve into the psalms themselves.
-David M. Howard Jr.,
professor of Old Testament, Bethel Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota
Rolf and Karl Jacobson tackle the complex and often confusing world of ancient biblical poetry and provide an astute and accessible guide for understanding the book of Psalms. Written in an engaging style with a clear format, Invitation to the Psalms will help students quickly grasp how to use the psalms for individual devotion and group learning. The book's examples are engaging and often humorous, keeping students involved in the process of learning poetry in a modern world so devoid of the genre. This work is an important addition for anyone teaching the psalms.
-Beth LaNeel Tanner,
assistant professor of Old Testament, New Brunswick Theological Seminary