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Psalms outside the Canon

Psalm 151

In the Vaticanus and Alexandrius, the psalm is admitted to be outside the canon, where as in the Sinaiticus, sees this psalm as canonical and present the Psalms as the 151 of David.[1] Within the Dead Sea Scrolls, this psalm has been found, which shows a date prior to 70 AD, while some have suggested and early 6th century date based on style, it has some phrases which place it more likely within the period between the testaments.[2]

This psalm plus four others are also to be found in the Syriac Peshitta, though the form of 151 in Syriac follows the Greek version, and not the Hebrew version.[3] The Greek version seems to have taken two psalms found in the DSS (labeled 151a and 151b) and has shorten and fused them together into the present work known in the LXX.[4] (There is little difference between the first part of 151 LXX and 151a DSS, but the difference between 151 LXX and 151b DSS is uncertain since 151b is mostly lost).

The Psalm purports to have been written by David, and it seems to be him recalling his past in his selection as King, (in a way a Psalm version of  1 Samuel 16 and 17), highlighting the idea that man looks at the outside, while God the inside, and then the Psalms ends in two verses David’s victory over the Giant.

Syriac Apocryphal Psalms (152-155)

152 and 153

Psalm 152 is a personal lament psalm, in chiasmus structure while 153 is a thanksgiving psalm in the same structure.  Both psalms are composed as it were after they had been delivered from a threat of death.  Both like 151 claims Davidic authorship and attempt to be autobiographical.  They deal with death and reading thanks.  They may have a Hebrew original, but it seems the more probably are indeed Syriac originals that try to imitated a Hebrew style, this naturally pushes their dates further.[5]

154 (Syriac Psalm II)

154 appears to be a Wisdom psalm, though it should be noted that only the beginning and end of 154 are available in Hebrew, though the middle section is attested in 11QPsa.[6] Those who trust in God are called to worship God, moves into instructing ignorant, describe the character of Wisdom, and finally moves into discussing Yahweh’s protection over those who are “godly, humble, and pure.”[7]

The Psalm might have perhaps been originally two different psalms placed skillfully together by a later editor, but some scholars do argue for the psalm originally being one, and this points to a skillful author.    There are no explicitly Essenian ideas, although several of the ideas would fit with their theology. [8]

155 (Syriac Psalm III)

This psalm is a thanksgiving psalm, with an appeal for deliverance mixed in; in many ways this psalm is similar to the canonical psalms of 22 and 51.[9] Part of this psalm is an alphabet acrostic.[10] The alphabet acrostic of this psalm goes freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeom “א” to “ה.”  It is a three stanza cry for deliverance, the first and second is the Psalmist plea for delieverance and to be taught God’s word, with the third finishing with thanksgiving praise.  The Psalm’s style fits that of the biblical ones, as does its theology.3

Other Dead Sea Scroll Psalms

Within 11QPsa besides some of the apocryphal psalms mentioned above, there is also found a composition, David’s last words, which is more or less 2 Samuel 23.1-7, as well as a portion of Sirach (51.13-30), though the latter shows that the Greek translation is a somewhat toned down.[11] It should be noted that there are two theories regarding 11QPsa that is, that either the last half of the book of Psalms was still in flux during the second century BC, or that perhaps the Qumran Psalm scrolls, are instead something like a “community prayer and hymn book.”[12]

Besides these, mixed within the DDS Psalters one can find the Apostrophe of Judah (4QPSf) which calls on everything and Judah in particular to praise Yahweh for defeating Belial and his men. [13] The Apostrophe of Zion (4QPSf and 11QPsa) is similar to Isaiah 54.1-8; 60.1-22; and 62.1-8 detailing a love poem of sorts to Zion. [14] This psalm though is fragmentary, but we do see that it is in the form of an alphabet acrostic.[15] There is a piece of called David’s Compositions which is a sort of prose epilogue to the 11QPsa scroll; its purpose seems to assert Davidic authorship of the scroll.[16] This piece has also been described as Midrashic in tone, and desrbies David has having written 4,050 different psalms, it’s author in a way thus proclaim as great a of library of works as Solomon.[17] Another psalm that was found is the Eschatological Hymn (4QPSf) which is a praise psalm with as the title implies an Eschatological bent. [18]

One called the Hymn to the Creator (11QPsa), is a Jewish wisdom piece that is similar to another work entitled the Thanksgiving hymns. [19] Next there is the Plea for Deliverance (11QPsa and 11QPsb), in this there is a plea for salvation from Satan and sin, as well as a remembrance for past helps. [20] Unfortunately the beginning of this work is now lost.[21] Finally there is the work of the Song Against Demons, which is three psalms placed together with Psalm 91, (11QapocPS) and naturally these psalms are for exorcism of sorts.[22]

Psalms of Solomon  Still not sure if I’ll add


[1] deSilva, 301.

[2] deSilva, 301.

[3] deSilva, 301.

[4] deSilva, 302.

[5] S.v. “Psalms, Syriac (Apocryphal),” in The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1996, c1992), 5:537.

[6] Vermes, 301

[7] Flint, 851 “Psalms and Hymns of Qumran”

[8] S.v. “Psalms, Syriac (Apocryphal).”

[9] Flint, 851.

[10] Vermes, 301.

[11] Flint, 851.

[12] deSilva, 301.

[13] Flint, 851

[14] Flint, 851

[15] Vermes, 301.

[16] Flint, 851

[17] Vermes, 301.

[18] Flint, 851

[19] Flint, 851

[20] Flint, 851

[21][21] Vermes, 301.

[22] Flint, 851

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