TM221.5/TM121.5 Psalms Assignment Titles
This module, which only runs occassionally, explores key themes, structures and poetic forms in the Book of Psalms and sample Psalms are studied. The use of the Psalms in worship and in forming Christian life today and within the Jewish and Christian traditions is explored.
On this page you will find sample assignment titles from previous years. assignment titles are changed from time to time so these titles may not mirror exactly the actual lists given in class. Do not take a title from this web site unless you are sure that it is the same as your class list. If there are major differences please notify me and I will update this page.
Please note that this module has never been assessed at level one therefore these level two titles can only be a guide.
First Testament Texts: Psalms - Assessment
There are no current assignment titles as the module is not being taught at present.
Titles from 2003/2004
This subject is assessed by means of an assignment of approx. 2,000 words in length
Books listed on the class handouts provide a starting point for each subject, further reading if you need it can be found on the Reading List. Please ask for specific guidance. You will need to consult commentaries on individual Psalms
Don't forget to read the psalms themselves and give specific verse references to illustrate the points you make (there is no need to quote the verses themselves). Please do ask if you have any questions or need help with getting books.
1. Prepare 90 minute bible studies on each of these Lament Psalms: Psalm 22, 44, 88. Explain your aims and choice of method and justify your approach to these Psalms in the light of your reading.
Your explanation should be at least 50% of the assignment and will need to include:
NB. There are many ways of writing Bible Studies and we are looking for something that will engage people with their own discoveries about the psalms, will have relevance to daily life as well as be true to the style and nature of the Psalms. Some experiment with different creative styles will be expected. We recommend H-R Weber The Bible Comes Alive Judson Press Valley Forge also called The Book that Reads Me WCC Publications Geneva and/or W Wink Transforming Bible Studies. You will also need to read one decent commentary on each Psalm.
- Very briefly the context in which you would use these studies.
- Very briefly your aims - if the studies work what will be the result? Compare these to the Psalmist's aims
- A justification for the form and structure of the study. The Psalmist has chosen a particular form/ structure as the best means to communicate his feelings. You too have chosen a particular structure for the evening including different types of questions/ activities. Compare and contrast the two structures and justify the differences.
- A justification of the content of the study, why you have sought to make these points about the psalm and how you have sought to balance the world behind the psalm (the original use and purpose of the psalm), the world of the psalm (its form and content) and our own world (relevance to today) with reference to your reading.
- If you are preparing leaders notes then much of this justificatory material may appear in the leader's notes, nevertheless a justification should still be added to cover any items not dealt with in the leader's notes.
2. "In Christian worship we are occasionally justified in omitting certain sequences in the Psalms" Holladay 1996 p313. Explore critically how Christians past and present have used and interpreted the vengeance psalms. In what ways, if any, is it appropriate to use them in Christian worship today?
You will need to identify the vengeance psalms (or portions of psalms) before exploring the different ways these psalms have been treated and used by Christians. Your section on use today should be about a quarter of the assignment. You may find it helpful to reflect briefly on why these portions of the psalms were written and why they were included in the psalter and canon of holy scripture. Your final section should reflect on the suitability of the methods discussed for use today.
3. "The Liturgy of the First Temple." Mowinckel suggested that the Psalms were part of dramatic cultic liturgy for Israel. Imaginatively reconstruct how a Psalm might have been used in ancient liturgy and suggest how it might be used today as a result. Attach a critical justification.
Creative and visual or audible reconstructions are particularly welcome. The justification should be at least 1000 words and will account for 50% of the marks. It should include:
Suitable psalms would include the liturgical and the royal enthronement psalms.
- Analysis of how scholars think the Psalm was used, when and why, with some critique of conflicting views. (You will need to refer to the various historical, literary and theological studies that have been made of your psalm)
- A justification of each section of your reconstruction in the light of your reading. (Note this is not a description of what you do but a justification!).
- A justification for your suggested use of the Psalm today in the light of your reconstruction.
4. Make a critical study of one of the themes in the psalms, exploring the various perspectives on it and the reason for using poetry to express it. Briefly note the relevance of the Psalmists thoughts on the theme to today.
Please check your theme to ensure that it is appropriate, smaller rather than larger themes are better. In preparation you will need to pursue its use in the psalms with the help of a bible dictionary. You must give more than simply a description of the theme. You will need to consider whether the Psalms provide a united or polyphonic voice on the theme and the part that history and literary considerations play in its expression. Some questions to think about: In the social, cultural & religious context why was this theme chosen? Is the theme used consistently in the psalms or does it have different nuances in different genres or eras? Are there limits to the theme, boundaries beyond which it is never explored?
The application must arise directly out of your assignment and should be no more than 400 words.
Titles from 2001/2002
1. Make a study of one of the important metaphors in the psalms, exploring its various messages and discuss how you might use that metaphor today.
Please check your metaphor with me to ensure that it is an important metaphor. In preparation you will need to pursue its use in the psalms with the help of a concordance or a bible dictionary. Note this is not a study of a particular image, but of a particular metaphor ("x is y"). You will need to identify the metaphor & map it as set out in the class notes.
Some questions to think about:
- In the social, cultural & religious context why was this metaphor chosen?
- Is the metaphor used consistently in the psalms or does it have different nuances in different genres or eras?
- Are there limits to the metaphor, boundaries beyond which it is never pushed?
- Is it used creatively or does it become a stylised metaphor?
- Does the metaphor communicate the same messages today or do different mappings arise?
- It may be that the metaphor has ceased to communicate in which case you might like to suggest alternative metaphors to express similar ideas for us. Creative suggestions for the use of the metaphor today are welcomed!
2. The Psalms are often neglected in modern Christian worship despite having been central to worship for the last thousand years. Drawing on your knowledge of the use of psalms in Israelite & Christian worship, devise two ways of using specific Psalms imaginatively (and appropriately!) for a main morning service and give an explanation of your choices.
You may choose to use one psalm or a group of psalms and the two ways may be for the same or different psalms, the same or different services. Either way you should cover at least two psalm genres.
Your explanation should include:
- The context in which you would use the psalm(s) - the congregation, building, service etc. and your reason for choosing it.
- A theological justification of the use of the psalm showing how your use and the content/form of the psalm correlate.
- An explanation of how this usage fits with past usage of this particular psalm i.e. how it is in keeping with the original purposes of the psalm (as far as we can ascertain them) and the use of the psalm within Jewish & Christian history.
3. Choose one praise, one lament and one didactic psalm and prepare a one-hour bible study on each one. Attach an explanation and justification of your studies.
In choosing psalms for this exercise choose shorter rather than longer psalms! Your explanation will need to include:
- The context in which you would use these studies and your reason for choosing the particular psalms
- A justification for studying the psalms in the first place (to convince those who think they should be sung not studied!)
- Your aims and objectives for the studies - if the studies work what will be the result?
- A justification for the content of the study - why have you chosen to communicate particular knowledge, ask particular questions or undertake particular activities during the studies?
- An explanation of how you have sought to balance the world behind the psalm (the original use and purpose of the psalm), the world of the psalm (its form and content) and our own world (relevance to today)
4. "In Christian worship we are occasionally justified in omitting certain sequences in the Psalms" Holladay 1996 p313. Explore how Christians past and present have used and interpreted the vengeance psalms. In what ways, if any, is it appropriate to use then in Christian worship today?
You will need to identify the vengeance psalms (or portions of psalms) before exploring the different ways these psalms have been treated and used by Christians. Your section on use today should be about a quarter of the assignment. You may find it helpful to reflect briefly on why these portions of the psalms were written and why they were included in the psalter and canon of holy scripture
5. Give an exegesis of Psalm 110 paying particular attention to the characteristics and theology that make it (in all probability) a royal psalm. How, if at all, is it appropriate to use this psalm today?
The following elements as applicable, should be included in an exegesis of a psalm:
The final section should be no more than a third of your assignment and should arise out of your exegesis
- An overview of the literary context (i.e. its place in the psalter) and historical context of the psalm.
- An overview of the form and style of the psalm & the application of critical tools e.g. source, form, redaction, literary etc.
- An explanation of the meaning of the psalm within its context, verse by verse or stanza by stanza, noting the meaning of key words or concepts, particular poetic structures that contribute to meaning etc. (This is not a devotional application but the meaning in the context)
- If there is a specific slant to the question then your exegesis should be geared in this direction
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