this issue
next article in this issue

Document Details :

Title: Psalm 58
Subtitle: Curse as Voiced Disorientation
Author(s): DOYLE, Brian
Journal: Bijdragen
Volume: 57    Issue: 2   Date: 1996   
Pages: 122-148
DOI: 10.2143/BIJ.57.2.2002425

Abstract :
A close reading of Psalm 58, focusing particularly on its stylistic features, reveals the centrality of God's presence to his people in the midst of injustice and evil. In spite of its imprecatory language, Psalm 58 is a song of God's saving activity and a celebration of justice. A powerful seven-fold curse full of rich yet horrific images calls out for the disempowerment of the wicked. The Hebrew text, together with significant text-critical notes, along with a critical translation, colometric division and examination of stylistic features constitutes the first part of the article. The structuring and non-structuring elements of the poem lead us to its primary theological purpose which is discussed in the second half of the article. Placing Psalm 58 within the context of the lament genre, the purpose of its difficult words is examined. In line with authors such as W. Brueggemann and C. Stuhlmueller an attempt is made to surface the significance of formal language of violence in the search for theological meaning. A hermeneutic for understanding and utilising the imprecatory psalms as a form of speech which gives voice to our disorientation and the disorientation of others is presented. In conclusion, the article points out how the often hyperbolic and ugly language of Psalm 58 reflects a biblical spirituality which should not be denied in the prayer forms of the community.