Encountering the Book of Psalms

A Literary and Theological Introduction

series: Encountering Biblical Studies

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"The strengths of the book are many. . . . Having completed this book, the student will have been introduced to the major theological and literary elements within the Psalter as well as major scholarly contributions on the subject."--Bradley Embry, Review of Biblical Literature

According to Hassell Bullock, "No collection of poems has ever exercised as much influence on the Western world as the Book of Psalms." The attraction for Jews, Christians, and others is surely the personal element that pervades these poems, which describe the human situation in all its complexity. Though the Psalms are perhaps the most familiar portion of the Hebrew Bible, they are also among the most difficult to interpret. As a result, Bullock has created this guide to introduce students to the study and interpretation of the Psalms.

Encountering the Book of Psalms begins by examining literary and hermeneutical dimensions. Bullock discusses the nature, structure, and authorship of the Psalter and provides readers with specific principles for interpretation. He goes on to examine the use of Psalms in worship from the ancient world to the twenty-first century. Bullock further explores how the psalmists used historical reflection to serve their theological purposes, and he concludes by investigating different types of psalms (e.g., praise, lament, and wisdom).

Like other volumes in the Encountering Biblical Studies series, Encountering the Book of Psalms is designed for classroom use and includes a number of helpful features, including chapter objectives and outlines, sidebars, charts, and illustrations.

The Author

  1. C. Hassell Bullock

    C. Hassell Bullock

    C. Hassell Bullock (PhD, Hebrew Union College) is professor of Hebrew Bible emeritus at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is the author of the two volumes on Psalms in the Teach the Text Commentary Series as well as An Introduction to the Old...

    Continue reading about C. Hassell Bullock


"Bullock helps the reader gain a grounding in the psalms by placing them in chronological and historical perspectives. He also examines how psalms have been used in worship services, tracing that use up to the present day. The book, illustrated with drawings and charts, is suitable for classroom use, and each chapter includes an outline and objective. This is a text that anyone desiring and introduction to, and an in-depth study of, the psalms can put to excellent use. It is easy to use, substantive in its material and clear in its presentation."--Presbyterian Layman

"The interesting 'Encountering' series by Baker is aimed at Bible Colleges and provides well constructed text books at this level. Outlines, sidebars and illustrations appear in the text as well as summaries and questions. . . . the approach in this volume is far more balanced and interactive with the actual text of Scripture than some discussions used in Bible Colleges. It is intelligent and fair minded, and deserves wide use."--Banner

"This book would benefit pastors in training or ministers who wish to extrapolate background information for an intensive study of the Psalms."--Church Libraries

"The strengths of the book are many. First, the punctuation of the narrative with helpful charts and diagrams increases understanding and makes the material discussed more enjoyable. Second, while Bullock demonstrates an overall command of the Psalter, he deftly avoids overemphasizing a personal agenda in his interpretation. . . . Third and most importantly, the book does indeed function as a literary and theological introduction to the book of Psalms. Having completed this book, the student will have been introduced to the major theological and literary elements within the Psalter as well as major scholarly contributions on the subject."--Bradley Embry, Review of Biblical Literature

"This is an excellent summary of information about the various scholarly opinions about the Book of Psalms. . . . The 'Encountering' series is designed to appeal to a modern reader. Clear headings, sidebars, study questions, tables, and various graphical elements make the pages visually interesting. . . . An excellent introduction to scholarly and devotional approaches to the psalms. A student or pastor building a personal library should seriously consider adding this volume to his Psalms shelf."--L. Russ Bush, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology

"A scholarly and quite detailed work. . . . It is a helpful, comprehensive, well-written and well-presented introduction to the Book of Psalms. Anyone beginning serious study of the psalms will find Bullock's work to be an excellent starting point."--Jamie Grant, Themelios

"Bullock's book is a gift to all who pray, live, and love the Psalter. . . . Numerous pictures, charts, tables, definitions, and devotional thoughts are sprinkled throughout Encountering the Book of Psalms, making this book a treasure for those who seek a superb devotional and teaching resource on the Psalms."--Reed Lessing, Concordia Journal

"[This volume] is the fruition of deep, academic preparation and presentation on the part of the author. . . . Though its utilization would be favorable for undergraduate courses, lay persons will find a wealth of information in this treatment of the Psalms. . . . The book's organization may well be one of its most admirable traits. Sidebars are used to isolate contemporary issues of concern and show how the book of Psalms speaks to pressing ethical and theological matters. At the beginning of each chapter is an outline of the chapter and a suggested list of goals to guide the reader in approaching the material. Key terms and a glossary follow each chapter, along with discussion questions. A variety of illustrations are found throughout the book, which are intended to make the text more aesthetically pleasing and more easily read. Tables group psalms according to genre. . . . [The book contains] excellent formatting and helpful applications of the Psalms."--William M. Tillman Jr., Review and Expositor