“Karl N. Jacobson has written a solid critical study that gives access and illumination to the Psalter. He has two goals. First, to help us read the Psalms of Asaph knowingly. Second, to let us better understand the dynamics and strategies at work in cultic remembering. He has accomplished both goals effectively. He calls us to attend to the work of remembering that requires imaginative, constructive engagement.”
Although the Psalms of Asaph (Pss. 50, 73‒83) contain a concentration of historical referents unparalleled in the Psalter, they have rarely attracted sustained historical interest. Karl N. Jacobson identifies these psalms as containing cultic historiography, historical narratives written for recitation in worship, and explores them through mnemohistory, attending to how the past is remembered and to the rhetorical function of recitation in the cultic setting. Jacobson describes mnemohistory at the intersection of memory and history, explores the singularity of the rhetorical and formals aspects of remembrance in the Asaph material, and discusses “residual mnemohistory,” material that is not intentionally called to remembrance. Jacobson shows that Asaph “remembers” the past as a movement from henotheism to a more orthodox form of Yahwism as the core memory that informs a new historical situation for worship participants. By describing the “way Asaph remembers,” Jacobson highlights symbolic and individualized elements of the psalms’ mnemohistorical work that earlier form-critical approaches failed to recognize.
- Publisher Fortress Press
- ISBN 9781506423463
- Format Hardcover
- Dimensions 6 x 9
- Pages 230
- Publication Date June 15, 2017
1. Introduction and History of Interpretation
2. Theoretical Considerations: History and Communal Memory
3. Mnemohistory and the Asaphite Corpus
4. How Asaph Remembers
5. Psalm 78: The Heart of What Asaph Remembers
6. What Asaph Remembers
7. Excursus: Residual Memories in the Asaphite Corpus
8. Conclusions: Why Asaph Remembers
Karl N. Jacobson has written a solid critical study that gives access and illumination to the Psalter.
This is an important volume for anyone who wants to better understand how the writers of the psalms used the known and remembered past to shape the identity and faith of the people of God in the present.
“Jacobson introduces a way through the stalemate in the study of the historical psalms. By engaging in an extensive study of the Asaph collection, he applies the concept of mnemohistory or remembered history in an innovative way, a method that has applications beyond the Psalms of Asaph. This is an important volume for anyone who wants to better understand how the writers of the psalms used the known and remembered past to shape the identity and faith of the people of God in the present.”
Anyone dealing with these psalms in a classroom or a pulpit will want to begin—and end—with Memories of Asaph.
Going beyond a traditional historical-critical method, mnemohistory reaches back to the actual events, considers them in their contemporary setting (which for Israel is the cult), and then points ahead to their implications for the future. Jacobson is fully aware of critical scholarship on the psalms, carrying on a discussion with Gunkel, Westermann, Mowinckel, Nasuti, Zenger, Brown, and others. The writing is crisp and clear, reflecting the author’s years as a scholar, teacher, and preacher on the psalmic material. Anyone dealing with these psalms in a classroom or a pulpit will want to begin—and end—with Memories of Asaph.”
I anticipate that this work will provide a valuable contribution to the twenty-first-century study of the shape and shaping of the Psalter.
“Karl N. Jacobson’s Memories of Asaph is an important study of one of the lesser-known collections that make up Psalms. His approach, which explores the intersection of memory and history in the Psalms of Asaph, is an example of the rich multiplicity of ways that scholars read and appropriate the biblical text. I anticipate that this work will provide a valuable contribution to the twenty-first-century study of the shape and shaping of the Psalter.”