"YHWH, remember!" : place, memory, and ritual in Psalms 120-137.


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This dissertation examines the collection of psalms with the superscription šîr hamma‘ălôt (120-134) along with the triad of psalms, 135-137, that follows the collection. The project begins with a history of scholarship with regard to the Songs of Ascents, with special attention given to studies that have explored the importance of “space” as a critical category in the Songs of Ascents. After providing a brief overview of the concept of critical spatiality and its application in biblical scholarship, this dissertation proposes that “place” as it relates to ritual provides a better framework for examining biblical texts than critical spatiality alone, specifically Jonathan Z. Smith’s work To Take Place: Toward a Theory of Ritual, which serves as the theoretical basis for the exegetical portion of the project. Psalms 120-134 are examined individually, with attention to structure, space and content. Building on Gert Prinsloo’s organizational model, the psalms will be approached in triads. This study proposes that the additional triad of psalms, 135-137, reinforces the collection’s emphasis on place and memory. The conclusion of the project explores the implications of this study for the “shape and shaping” debate in Psalms scholarship, specifically the influence of the Levitical singers in the collection of the Psalter.



Songs of Ascents. Ritual. Place.