Item description for Singing in the Reign: The Psalms and the Liturgy of God's Kingdom by Michael Patrick Barber & Scott Hahn...
Overview You've known the Psalms as individual pearls - but have you ever experienced them as a 150-piece necklace? Michael Barber recovers the narrative unity of the Psalms, showing how this celebrated book of the Bible brings us from suffering and pleading to triumph and praise.
Publishers Description Discover the secret riches of the Psalms. Christians know the Psalms. singthe Psalms, and pray the Psalms. Yet believers have lost the big picture -the single sense that unites all the Psalms as one coherent book.
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Studio: Emmaus Road Publishing
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.28" Width: 5.32" Height: 0.49" Weight: 0.57 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2002
Publisher Emmaus Road Publishing
ISBN 1931018081 ISBN13 9781931018081
Availability 87 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 22, 2016 04:58.
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The Best Catholic Introduction to the Psalms in Print! Aug 7, 2006
At least in English, this book is in undoubtedly the best introduction to the Book of Psalms presently in print. It is written by a Catholic biblical scholar who is on fire for the Word of God and wants to get that Word out. But this book is much more than just an introduction to the Psalms. It is an introduction to the theology of the entire Bible.
This book begins with a generous introduction by Dr. Scott Hahn. Dr. Hahn not only introduces the book but also helps to set the stage for a Christological interpretation of the Book of Psalms, canonically interpreted.
In the short chapter 1, Barber clarifies exactly what he wants to do with the entire book:
"It [this book] will show how the historical hope for the restoration of the Davidic kingdom, was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus. This kingdom was the means by which God would extend his covenant family bond to all men. In doing so God would restore man to the original calling that Adam received: divine sonship." (35)
In part one, which is comprised of chapters two, three and four, Barber presents a theology of the Psalms. He proceeds in Chapter 2 to review the Davidic covenant as the Old Testament climax. He begins at the beginning: Genesis 1. Utilizing the theme of "covenant", which undergirds the entire Bible, he gives the reader a bird's eye view of the important covenants up to the Davidic covenant. This latter covenant "is not simply a private oath sworn to David. It is the climactic event of the history of God's covenant dealings with mankind in the Old Testament. Through the Davidic king, God will restore the covenant relationship with humanity that was lost since Adam fell at the dawn of time."(57)
In Chapter 3, Barber provides an overview of some the themes of the Psalms, which include the New Exodus (which is the restoration of the 12 tribes of Israel and the nations under the Davidic king), the movement from Sinai to Zion, the role of wisdom and its relation to the Torah, and finally the Todah or "thank offering".
Finally in Chapter 4, the reader is led through a canonical study of the Book of Psalms. Divided into five "books", Barber skillfully delves into each one with his usual lucidity and conciseness. But he doesn't stop there.
Now comes part two, which is comprised of three chapters and brings the entire story to its climax: Jesus and the Restoration of the Kingdom, with the church as the Kingdom of God on earth. He explains that "[t]he Church is the extension of the Kingdom of God on earth, because the Church, through her sacramental ministry, extends God's covenant family relationship to all men."(154) In the epilogue, Barber exegetes Romans 9-11, explaining God's fatherly plan for finding the lost tribes.
Although a Scripture index would have been helpful, this is a well-written book of Biblical theology. Although not all aspects of his insights may turn out to be accurate under scrutiny, the gist of the book is worth the journey taken.
Written for the average Catholic, this book should be placed in the hands of all who want to know the Psalms better. In doing so, it will immensely enrich their lives. And Michael Barber will help them do just that.
A Book Review by the Rev. Fr. Johann W. Vanderbijl III Dec 14, 2005
Despite the corny title and equally corny headings from time to time, the book delivers more than its title reveals. The rather lengthy introduction by Scott Hahn (an ex-Presbyterian and fairly recent convert to Roman Catholicism) sets the tone for the rest of the book. Old Testament symbolism provides the backdrop for the further development of the Davidic Covenant theme proposed by the author for the reading of the Psalms. Much of this type of work has been covered by lesser-known authors such as James Jordan (especially in his book "Through New Eyes", Wolgemuth & Hyatt Publishers, Brentwood TN, 1988) and Peter Leithart (both Presbyterians), whom the author quotes a few times.
It is, perhaps, this background work that will prove to be the most fundamental part of this publication as it recaptures an area long neglected, not only in scholarly circles, but also in the Church at large. So much of biblical language in both Old and New Testaments is steeped in symbolism and if the reader of Holy Scripture has not done his or her homework in this vast yet vital field, he or she will find that so much simply slips by unnoticed or is ignored or, worse, written off as indecipherable apocalyptic language open only to those who wrote the words and those who heard them for the first time. Thus to read an author attempting to recapture the essentially Hebraic form of Holy Writ is refreshing to say the least. Far too many authors still fall prey to the Hellenistic interpretations largely inherited from the Enlightenment. However, there is a danger of finding symbols under every rock, tree and serpent once the bug has bitten and one has to exercise a fair amount of caution (not to mention humility which at times seems to be sadly lacking in the opening and closing chapters of this book) to ensure that one remains squarely within the parameters set by Scripture itself.
Barber also draws our attention to another very important trend in recent biblical scholarly work and that is a re-emergence of a canonical approach to Scriptures. Ever since the so-called Higher Critics invaded the hallowed halls of Christendom, scholars have been all too busy speculating about issues not conducive to the serious study of the Word as God has seen fit to preserve it for our use. The logical conclusion to their approach has been a hermeneutic of suspicion in which the Scriptures are "guilty unless proved innocent". Taking the Bible at face value, working with what we have and allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture as the primary source of Divine revelation (as that is what it claims to be) is surely the gentlemanly way to treat ancient literature, and Barber calls us back to a hermeneutic of trust and respect. Working with the whole of God's revelation is the only way to truly know God as He has chosen to reveal Himself. As such, Barber sees what the Early Church saw...the New revealed in the Old. This is the foundation upon which he builds his exegesis of the Psalter as essentially Messianic...the story of the Davidic Monarchy arranged in such a way as to point forward to the restoration of all things under the reign of the eternal Davidic King.
In part I of his book, Barber explores the Davidic Covenant as the pinnacle of God's covenantal dealings with Israel. Beginning with creation, Barber works through each stage of the fulfilment of God's promise to restore the covenant broken by Adam's failure to fulfil his part of the creation mandate. It is here that Barber tends to make bold references to imagery that at once cause the reader to both gasp in awe, but also wonder if the link is really that clear. For instance, the meaning of "image" and "likeness" (a topic guilty of causing many a thoughtful scholar to scratch his pate more than a few times) is simply defined as "sonship" (40) and the deep sleep of Adam is taken to indicate the passing of one night (44). Also the use of the pseudepigrapha to defend the idea of Adam going into mortal combat for Eve is hardly convincing (45), especially since he is arguing for the primacy of Scripture. One other glaring problem is that Barber seems to be unaware that what he calls the climax of the Abrahamic Covenant, namely that all the nations would be blessed through his Seed, is found in Genesis 12, not only as a climax in Genesis 22 (48 - he makes this same error - if it is an error in Part II, 140).
However, in spite of a few minor question marks, Barber certainly presents the reader with a challenge to see the bigger picture and to look for the greater theme that runs through all of the Scriptures. His interesting harmony of the Covenant as climaxing in the hope for the restoration of the Davidic Monarchy with the structure of the Psalter is such a challenge - it certainly is one of the better outlines for a book as large as the Psalms out there. The theme of the New Exodus as greater than the first because of the incorporation of the Gentiles is clearly evident in many of the Psalms. What is interesting is that Barber contends that an editor(s) (perhaps exilic or post-exilic) purposefully shaped the book of Psalms to reflect this theme (59). It is interesting to see how he eventually (in Part II, 155-174) brings together his emphasis on all Israel being restored as a theme, not only in the Psalter, but also in the New Testament - however, his interpretation of Romans 9-11 is not as convincing as he seems to think it is, as it appears to detract from the undeserved grace of God in saving the nations - that God's only reason for saving the Gentiles was because somewhere in their ancestry a member of the ten lost tribes may be lurking.
Equally interesting is his linking of the Thanksgiving (Todah) Psalms with the self-offering of the individual, of Christ and of the Eucharist, governed by the promise that "all sacrifices will cease, but the thank offering will never cease" (79). However, his Roman Catholic understanding of the Eucharist seems to govern his idea of a realised eschatological presence in the Eucharistic liturgy (footnote, 154). It is more likely that in the liturgy a mysterious (in the Greek understanding of the word) spiritual elevation of the Church into the Presence of the reigning Christ takes place rather than a pre-cursor to the Parousia.
Another very interesting link is made with the five books of Moses by highlighting the divisions of the Psalter into five books that is surely not an editorial glitch. However, if Deuteronomy is a lesser law, as he seems to think, this presents problems for the climax of the restoration in Book V. It seems better to see Deuteronomy for the gracious covenant renewal that it is, as that fits in better with Barber's idea of establishment (Book I), failure (Book II), fall (Book III), renewal (Book IV) and restoration (Book V) of the Davidic Monarchy.
Barber's canonical approach does aid the reader of the Psalms to break with the all too common use of the Psalms as quick spiritual fixes read devotionally over a hasty cup of coffee. It serves to unify an otherwise unconnected compilation of personal prayers and liturgical litany and provides a sense of story and movement to the whole Book. As such, Barber cautions that the Psalter must be read on three levels. "First, each of the psalms must be read as individual prayers, which stand on their own, apart from their context. Second, many of these psalms may be understood as composed for some specific historical context, such as Psalm 110 as the enthronement of the king, and Psalm 132 as the bringing up of the ark to Jerusalem. Finally, the psalms gain new meaning as they are placed in the larger context of the Psalter. Such is the case with Psalm 90 which, as a response to Psalm 89, becomes emblematic of the hope of the New Exodus." (132-133) This is good advice for any portion of Scripture, as it will help the reader of Holy Writ to first place the text in the mind of the original author, the original historical context and the original literary setting before transporting the text into the 21st Century.
The canonical approach also makes sense of the apparently higgledy-piggledy form of the Book of Psalms. If one approaches the Psalms from standpoint of a purposefully edited book, the movement of the message from beginning to end can be seen and followed.
But perhaps the greatest of Barber's contributions is the linking of the Psalter to the fulfilment of the Davidic Monarchy in Christ. Once again, he moves through each development of the Covenant, broken and restored. The strong links between Old and New Testament symbols are also revisited as his quotation of Scott Hahn on page 138 illustrates. Whether the Church can be said to be the Kingdom of God is not convincing...this thought seems to violate the parable of the wheat and the tares in which the Kingdom is likened to a field that is later revealed to be the world. Thus the Kingdom of God includes the Church, but is greater than the Church. However, Barber succeeds in forcing the reader to make connections he or she would otherwise never have made between Old and New Testaments as well as between the Psalter and the greater covenant theme running through both Testaments.
Barber is to be congratulated in writing a book that not only revives the ancient art of canonical interpretation, but that also gives the reader a tool to open the symbolic passages of Scriptures thoughtfully and legitimately. His book sheds new light on the most read book of the Bible and thus makes it an even more life changing and challenging experience.