I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


In addition to the chiastic structure illustrated below under parallelisms, there are several figures that are significant to Ps 24. 
A. Metonymy
            First, there are at least two instances of metonymy in Ps 24.  Metonymy is a figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation.[1] 
1. Mountain of YHWH (v 3a).  A clear reference to Jerusalem, “the city of the great King” (Ps 48:1—2; cf. Matt 5:35), is made here by metonymy.  The mount footing of the city is put for the city itself.  This may serve as a poetic play on “founded” and “established” in v 1, as the sure foundation of the temple mount concretely illustrates the rock solid founding of Jerusalem and the Davidic throne, which are being commemorated in this psalm. 
2. Innocent hands…clean heart (v 4a).  These two terms are put for a holistic character that pleases YHWH, the whole person is to be innocent and clean.  Innocent hands refer to one’s practical life, while “clean heart” speaks into the inward attitude and motive of the worshipper.  Together they forcefully emphasize the singularity of absolute devotion and holiness required of the worshipper, and that by metonymy. 

B. Anthropopatheia
            This figure is used of the ascription of human passions, actions, or attributes to God.[2]  Interestingly, “the Hebrews had a name for this figure, and called it…Derech Benai Adam, the way of the sons of man.”[3]  This figure is less-than explicitly used in vv 7—10, which present YHWH as actually entering Jerusalem by means of the city wall gates. 

C. Personification
            Poetically, in vv 7 and 9, the “gates…eternal doors” are given the command to open.  In vv 8 and 10, the gates, seemingly, respond to the procession, seeking the identification of the King entering the city.  Jerusalem is often spoken of in feminine pronouns (see e.g., “God, in her palaces, has made Himself known…” Ps 48:3 NAS).  The notion of her, Jerusalem, even having “daughters” (Zech 9:9) and “children” (Matt 23:37) is commonplace in both the Old and New Testaments.  This concrete, organic portrayal of places and things was a convention of the Hebraic worldview.  It strikes the modern Western reader’s ears as odd; having been steeped in the language of abstractions inherited from the influence Greco-Roman thought has had on the development of the Western societies. 

D. Epistrophe
             There is a fine example of epistrophe in v 10a and c of Ps 24.  Epistrophe “is a figure in which the same word or words are repeated as the end of successive sentences or clauses, instead of (as in anaphora) at the beginning.”[4]
                        Who is this King of glory?
            YHWH of Hosts,              |
                            He is the King of glory. (v 10)

This figure brilliantly highlights YHWH as the King of glory, he who enters and dwells in Jerusalem.

[1] Bullinger, p. 538, op cit.

[2] Ibid., p. 872.

[3] Ibid. 
[4] Ibid., p. 241. 

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