[b-hebrew] Psalms of David & Preposition Lamed (was Psalm 30)
dwashbur at nyx.net
Fri Mar 31 01:00:13 EST 2006
On Thursday 30 March 2006 23:33, George Athas wrote:
> When we have a Psalm with a unique superscription (eg, Ps 89, a Maskil of
> Ethan), I think it is easier to make the case that the preposition lamed
> indicates authorship. In such a case, there may not have been a 'corpus' of
> the person's psalms to represent an identifiable tradition, so the name
> associated with such a Psalm makes sense as a marker or authorship. But
> when we do have a corpus, such as the Psalms of David or the Psalms of
> Asaph, it is possible to argue for a certain tradition, such as the Davidic
> tradition or Asaphic(?) tradition. Now, an entire corpus may go back to the
> actual person named (eg, David or Asaph). But the fact that there is a
> corpus means that there is a tradition that can be associated with the
> corpus. This provides scope for saying that other authors could compose
> pieces in the tradition of the corpus. And the use of the preposition lamed
> in the superscriptions would allow for this.
> I'm not suggesting that this definitely is the case with the Psalms, but I
> don't think it's out of the question as a plausible theory.
> In summary, I'm not denying that David could have written all of the Psalms
> with his name in the superscription. Rather, I'm suggesting that since the
> term leDawid employs the versatile preposition lamed, it might imply
> something more than or something other than authorship, namely a tradition
> to which the Psalm belongs.
Just a couple of thoughts:
First, this hypothesis seems a bit ad hoc: the general trend is to at least
suspect (in some cases deny outright) Davidic authorship of the psalms with
his name attached to them, so we offer the idea that the le-whoever only
denotes direct authorship when there's no "corpus" involved. All other
things being equal, it seems that if the form denotes authorship in the case
of a single instance, there's really no good reason to suggest that it
doesn't in multiple instances.
Second, as I recall, Ugaritic has shown that le-PN did indeed often indicate
"of PN" or "from PN" a lot more than we ever suspected, so it could provide
support for the suggestions that 1) the inscriptions really do mean "a psalm
of David/Asaph/Pierpont/Whoever" and even that 2) the inscriptions are
actually quite ancient, perhaps even going back to the origins of the
compositions themselves. As you said, we don't know when they were put
there, but since this is a somewhat atypical use of the preposition in BH, it
could indicate that they are quite ancient.
Back to lurking (preparing to learn scuba diving this weekend, actually :-)
Fame is fleeing, as good old Whatsisname used to say.
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