begin-title / end-title

Trevor Peterson speederson at
Fri Feb 2 22:50:24 EST 2001

Peter wrote:

> We do have Psalm 18 quoted, with a superscription but no "end title", in 2
> Samuel 22.

Or vice versa.  (I'm not trying to argue for one or the other--just point
out that it's not necessarily an open and shut case.  As far as that goes,
they could both be drawing from a third source.)  But the point is taken.

> Also a long compilation from various psalms in 1 Chronicles 16,
> with a superscription (verse 7) and a response (verse 36b) which looks
> interestingly similar to Psalm 106:48, which is probably the closure to Book
> IV of the Psalms. Of course these have their own uncertain textual
> histories, but the evidence of Psalm 106:48 suggests to me that at least
> Chronicles is quoting from the book of Psalms in a form similar to what we
> have now.

And I have no problem acknowledging that we do get some quoting of the
Psalms.  But I don't know that the "superscription" in v. 7 is all that
formulaic--a heading to the material that follows, I will grant you, but
as easily of the compiler's own doing as borrowed from a supposed source. 
And the response at the end is hardly the sort of thing this thread is
suggesting as an end-title.  Of course, since we're talking about psalms,
it seems that we're under different circumstances.  At least the way we
have them in the MT, many of them have their own headings, even though it
would probably be going too far to say that these were headings assigned
to individual scrolls.  (The format is too consistent not to have
undergone at least some sort of redactional activity after a collection of
psalms was established.  It's probably also plausible to infer that
literature such as the psalms would have been put into collections fairly
early in its development.  So I think we'd be hard pressed to make, let
alone substantiate, any claim that the psalmic headings on the whole have
anything to do with beginnings and endings of scrolls.)

I hope it's clear that I'm not trying to make some sort of blanket
assertion that there is no evidence of cross-usage in the biblical
material.  Nothing could be further from my mind.  My only point is that a
hypothesis of embedded section titles originating with scroll titles is
unlikely to find substantive evidence within the biblical material itself.
 I'd certainly be a lot more comfortable with the idea if there were some
comparable examples in other ancient Semitic literature.

Trevor Peterson

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