Dave Washburn dwashbur at nyx.net
Mon Jan 21 08:44:05 EST 2002

> Dear List-members!
> In the introduction to his Commentary on Ps 1-50 (Word Biblical Commentary
> 1983), Craigie quotes Albright about Dahood's commentary on the Psalms (AB):
> "Even if only a third of his (Dahood's) new interpretations of the Psalter
> are correct in principle - and I should put the total proportion higher - he
> has contributed more than all other scholars together, over the past two
> thousend years, to the elucidation of the Psalter"
> Dahood really introduced new thoughts into the exegesis of the Psalter.
> Craigie writes: "In this commentary, wich owes a great deal to the insight
> of Mitchell Dahood, an attempt has been made to evaluate crtitcally Dahood's
> contributions to the study of Psalms 1-50. The critical evaluation is very
> limited, principally because the extent of Dahood's work is so massive that
> a complete book would be required for critical evaluation alone"
> Does anyone know about such an evaluation?
I don't know of a line-by-line evaluation - Dahood's commentary was 
3 volumes after all - but there were plenty of fairly extensive reviews 
when it first appeared.  His dependence on Ugaritic had one of two 
effects on reviewers: either they loved it or they hated it.  There 
seemed to be no in-between, a reviewer either hailed it as the 
greatest achievement of the century in Hebrew studies, as Albright 
did, or they castigated it as a joke because he erroneously 
(according to the reviewer) leaned so heavily on a cognate language 
at the expense of other more traditional branches of philology as 
well as the Qumran scrolls.

Dahood wrote a response to these criticisms called "Ugaritic and 
Phoenician or Qumran and the Versions" published in _Orient and 
Occident: Essays Presented to Cyrus H. Gordon on the Occasion of 
His Sixty-Fifth Birthday_ ed. by Harry A. Hoffner, Jr, AOAT 22 
(Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1973) p. 53-58.  In it he 
argued that cognate languages are going to be much more useful 
for advancing biblical Hebrew philology than resorting to versions 
and recensions such as those found at Qumran.

Whatever one thinks of Dahood's approach, the one thing that a 
researcher in the Psalms cannot do is ignore it.
Dave Washburn
This time, like all times, is a very good one if we but know what to do 
with it.

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