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Conceptualizing Distress in the Psalms


A Form-Critical and Cognitive Semantic Study of the צרר1 Word Group


Psalms containing lexemes derived from the Hebrew root צרר (to bind, be in distress) reveal a previously-unnoticed generic subgroup in the Psalter. Through structural and cognitive linguistic principles, Rasmussen explores issues related to genre, Hebrew grammar, and syntax in order to arrive at a set of three cognitive domains of “powerlessness,” “palpable threat,” and “entreaty” which are relatively unique to psalms that include צרר lexemes. Rasmussen also makes suggestions about the editorial process of the Hebrew Psalter, concluding that after the Babylonian exile, distress was more strongly associated with divine discipline and displeasure, whereas before the exile it was more associated with declarations of innocence.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0610-9
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Feb 6,2018
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 314
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0610-9
$95.00

This volume explores a new methodology for applying the psalms to the present day.  Rasmussen uses a combination of form critical and cognitive semantic methods in the Psalter to investigate words related to distress (from the root צרר1). This investigation results in a set of three cognitive domains that are relatively unique to Psalms that include these distress terms. This study also reveals previously-unnoticed genre grouping in the Psalter related to this distress vocabulary.  Some of the stronger examples within this genre grouping include Psalms 22, 31 and 69, which serve as literary backdrop for the distress of the crucifixion of Jesus in the gospels.  Rasmussen also offers suggestions about the editorial process of the Hebrew Psalter, observing that the later portion of the Psalter (Book 5: Pss 107-150) more strongly associates distress with divine discipline, whereas in the first three books of the Psalter (Pss 1-89), distress is more strongly correlated with declarations of innocence. 

This volume explores a new methodology for applying the psalms to the present day.  Rasmussen uses a combination of form critical and cognitive semantic methods in the Psalter to investigate words related to distress (from the root צרר1). This investigation results in a set of three cognitive domains that are relatively unique to Psalms that include these distress terms. This study also reveals previously-unnoticed genre grouping in the Psalter related to this distress vocabulary.  Some of the stronger examples within this genre grouping include Psalms 22, 31 and 69, which serve as literary backdrop for the distress of the crucifixion of Jesus in the gospels.  Rasmussen also offers suggestions about the editorial process of the Hebrew Psalter, observing that the later portion of the Psalter (Book 5: Pss 107-150) more strongly associates distress with divine discipline, whereas in the first three books of the Psalter (Pss 1-89), distress is more strongly correlated with declarations of innocence. 

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Contributor Biography

Michael Rasmussen

Michael Rasmussen is pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Plano, TX. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Aberdeen/Highland Theological College, and has taught Old Testament and Practical Theology at various theological schools.  He resides with his wife in Dallas, TX.

Table of Contents (v)

Acknowledgments (xiii)

Foreword (xv)

Abbreviations (xvii)

Chapter One. Toward a Forward-Looking Hermeneutic in Psalm Studies (1)

   1. Genre Investigation as an Extension of Structural Linguistics (7)

   2. Frame Semantics: Cognitive Linguistic Classification of Findings from the Structural Analysis (9)

   3. Cognitive Linguistic Treatment of Force and Motion (13)

   4. Scripts, Macropropositions and the Experienced Reader: Cognitive Semantics Applied to the Real-Time Perception of Texts as Wholes (21)

   5. Palpability (25)

   6. The Indispensability of Inference in Semantic Analysis (26)

   7. Overview of the Genre Concept (29)

Chapter Two. Translating צרר Homonyms in the MT Psalter (53)

Chapter Three. Cognitive Profile of Distress: [POWERLESSNESS] (68)

   Introduction (68)

   1. Onset Causation of Rest/Motion in Ps 18 and Similar Clauses in Pss 116 and 142 (70)

   2. Force-Dynamic Event Frames Featuring the Adjective ʿārîṣ (Tyrant) (77)

   3. The Exhausted Spirit/Soul (81)

   4. Thrown (šālaḵ) by Yahweh (82)

   5. Force Dynamics and Motion Event Frames in Psalm 22 (84)

   6. Onset Causation of Rest through the Four-fold Repetition of Sābab (to Surround) in Psalm 118 (94)

   7. Lengthy Force-Dynamic Discourse in Psalm 9/10 (95)

   8. Four-fold Occurrence of Yād as a Metaphor for ‘Power’ in Psalm 31 (107)

   9. Water Motifs and Distress in Psalm 69 (110)

   Summary and Conclusion (116)

Chapter Four. Cognitive Profile of Distress: [PALPABLE THREAT] (119)

   Introduction (119)

   1. Self-Contained Motion and Related Force Dynamics in Psalm 46 (121)

   2. Self-Contained Motion and Related Force Dynamics in Psalm 77 (128)

   3. Self-Contained Motion in Psalm 59 (132)

   Conclusion (135)

Chapter Five. Cognitive Profile of Distress: [ENTREATY] (137)

   Introduction (137)

   1. Paradigmatic Analysis of Syntagms Referring to Trouble within Petition Clusters (138)

   2. Examples of the Psalter’s Petition Clusters: Similarity and Variety (142)

   3. The Ṣārar1 Genre Subgroup (144)

   4. The Potential Function of Petition Clusters as a Script-Triggering Device (147)

Chapter Six. Cognitive Profile of Distress: [EXTRA-LINGUISTIC CAUSE] (149)

   Introduction (149)

   1. Indeterminacy and the [EXTRA-LINGUISTIC CAUSE] Domain (150)

   2. Eight Categories of [EXTRA-LINGUISTIC CAUSE] (154)

   Summary and Conclusion (168)

Chapter Seven. Cognitive Profile of Distress: [GUILT?] (171)

   Introduction (171)

   1. Historical Survey of the Issue of Guilt versus Innocence (172)

   2. Grammatical Analysis (182)

   3. Correlation between Distress and Divine Wrath in Psalm 78 (184)

   4. Correlation between Distress and Disobedience in Psalm 106 (186)

   5. Correlation between Distress and Disobedience in Psalm 107 (187)

   6. Distress, Guilt and the Seam of Books 4 and 5 (197)

   7. Summary of Findings (201)

   8. Similar Correlation Elsewhere in the MT (202)

   9. Canonical Considerations (206)

   10. Interpretive Guidelines for Psalm 107 (214)

   Conclusion (214)

Chapter Eight. Distress in Psalm 107 (217)

   1. Psalm 107 Text and Translation (217)

   2. Text-Critical and Grammatical Issues (220)

   3. Psalm 107: History of Exegesis (224)

   4. The Uniqueness of the Portrayal of Distress in Psalm 107 (234)

   5. Exegetical and Cognitive-Semantic Analysis of Distress in Psalm 107 (240)

   6. Analysis of Ps 107: Toward a Forward-Looking Hermeneutic (268)

Conclusion (271)

   1. Summary of Findings (271)

   2. Toward a Forward-Looking Hermeneutic (273)

Bibliography (277)

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