Theology of the Psalms of Solomon – Introduction

One of the delights which I discovered upon discovering the Septuagint was the Psalms of Solomon. While most, if not all, of canonical history has never accepted them as canonical, a text of the Psalms was found in the Codex Alexandrinus. (See also here) While some might find the study of the 2nd Temple Judaism a vile enterprise, or at the very least a waste of time, I find that the New Testament was not written in a vacuum, and that by shedding light upon the theological concepts found therein by using the literature which the writers, especially Paul, would have used, we can gain a richer insight into the communities which produced our own scared writings. Admittedly, this will not be concise, nor will it touch every strain of theology in this work.

The Psalms of Solomon is at times considered pseudepigraphical and others, on the outside of the deuterocanonicals. With a strong possibility of a Hebrew origin for most if not all of the Psalms, the current manuscripts are all in Greek. The original name is known to history, but it is thought that due to the nature of the Psalms, and the value which many placed on it, the name of Solomon was attached to it to keep it attached to Judaism. They were written over a half century before the birth of Christ, perhaps in Palestine, which was suffering under the rule of Rome and the priesthood of the Maccabees.

M. de Jonge writes:

“This leads us to the question of the date. The PssSol do not describe historical events, but reflect them. They are clearly against the Hasmoneans, who did not discharge their priestly duties in a proper way (1:8; 8:11-13, 22) and usurped the high priesthood (8:11) as well as royal authority (17:5f). Psalm 8 clearly describes Pompey’s entry into Jerusalem in 63 BC, together with the events leading up to and following it (verses 15-21; cp. 17:7-14). Ps. 2:1f mentions his capture of the city together with his pollution of the temple (so also 17:13f). Psalm 2 pictures him first and foremost as a proud and insolent sinner who does not observe the limits set to him as instrument of the Lord and disregards God’s strength and judgement (cp. verses 23-37). The author of this psalm prays for deliverance and is shown how the insolent transgressor lies slain on the mountains of Egypt without anyone to bury him (2:26f). Although the language is traditional we may see here a reference to Pompey’s death in Egypt in 48 BC.” (Outside the Old Testament, pp. 160-161)

It is in this light which we find a solid development in thought that Messiah would not only be heavenly, but the Son of David. This thought creates a tension between the author(s) of these psalms and those who would have currently been in power, the priestly Maccabees who promoted the idea of the Messiah ben Joseph (son of Joseph).

Early Christians adopted these Psalms, and the Odes, as valuable to their communities, although never canonical. (A Greek MSS of the Psalms can be found in Alexandrian Text.) It is evident, as we examine them in more detail, why. They provide, like other intertestamental works, a direct connection between the close of the Hebrew Scriptures and the world in which the Gospels were written – very much in the light of 2nd Temple Judaism. We can find vital links to Christian doctrine, showing progression in thought during these years, finally finding fruition in the doctrine of the New Testament.

We will examine the theology of the Psalms, specifically,

  • Resurrection
  • Messianic Expectation

The Jewish Encyclopedia, Psalms of Solomon.

I propose that due to the Messianic value of the Psalms (especially 17 and 18), Solomon was chosen because he was the son of David which first fulfilled 2nd Samuel 7.14-15.

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28 Replies to “Theology of the Psalms of Solomon – Introduction”

    1. Fr. Robert, it is you who should check himself. I never said that I do not believe that doctrine developed from Adam until the Apostles. I said it stopped at the Apostles.

      1. Joel,

        By using sources that are also not canonical, this makes it hard to explain, i.e. your position. When the Apostles died it was only natural for the Church to expand its thought. The nascent church had to grow and develop. This is the nature of all historical reality. This is also why the Book of Acts is itself a transitional action, from the OT to the New. And now the Church is the incarnational reality of the living Christ. To deny in some sense that doctrine does not develop, i.e. the Apostles Doctrine. Denies the nature of growth in the Kingdom of God. For Anglicans and other Christians also, “The Three Creeds, Nicene Creed, Athanasius’s Creed, and that which is commonly called the Apostles Creed, ought thoroughly to be received and believed: for they may be proved by most certain warrants of holy Scripture.” (VIII. Of the Three Creeds).
        And we can see the very nature of this development, in the middle of the second century thru to the fourth century. Also for Anglicans, the Orthodox and some Protestants there are Seven Ecumenical Councils. The fact that the historical and theological story of the seven first ecumenical councils is always of paramount and profound importance to Christian belief, turns on this reality of their doctrine and development in these Churches, both East and West.
        Fr. R.

        1. If the Church added anything to the Apostles, then it is no longer the Church.

          This is only showing the development Messianic Expectation. 2nd Temple Judaism provided lingual fodder, and perhaps more, but it all ends in Christ. Nothing more after Him to expand. Sorry, Fr. Robert, but what you think you might have proving doctrinal development really doesn’t.

          1. That’s because you have no real points here. I do not believe in doctrinal development after the faith once for all delivered to the saints. You do. So, when I show that people begin to look for a Messiah, and that our New Testament writers obviously knew of these writings, you assume, incorrectly, that I have backed myself into a corner because this is what you want to see.

            There is no room for doctrinal development out side the New Testament. No license; no approval.

          2. Joel,
            The idea that the “development” of doctrine, or really better understanding of the doctrines of God are some addition, are simply flawed. It is the Holy Spirit in the Church, that gives any light here. See St. John 14:26. As with the Book of Acts and the transition from the OT to the New, so it is with the Apostles Doctrine. Even St. Paul still had to show this aspect in the NT Church again in 2 Corinthians 3. This aspect and reality of 2 Cor. 3:18, shows that it is always the Holy Spirit in the face and person of Christ, that gives us “light”. True we have the “common faith”, but it also needed the transition of both OT and New, into both the final Text (Canon, the Bible), and the Apostolic Doctrine. “The apostles, who, as the examples and representatives of all believers, are ministers of Christ. In vv. 8-9 the glory is related to the ministry of the new covenant. Here the glory is related to the apostles, the ministers of the new covenant. This shows that the ministry of the new covenant is not merely an activity carried out by new covenant ministers; rather, it is what the new covenant ministers are. They are one with their ministry, for the same invisible glory saturates and pervades both their work and their being, so that there is no difference between the two.”
            Therefore, we can be sure that God will always renew and keep both His New Covenant, with both His Apostolic Church and ministry, in His Word (Canon) and thru His Holy Spirit. This He did at and in the Ecumenical Councils, and He continues to do thru both the Catholic and Reformed Church. Thus both Word & Sacrament in this redemptive time of God’s grace!
            Fr. R.

          3. Fr. Robert, the Ecumenical Councils were little more than political battles, which settled for compromises not found in Scripture. (Not all, but most.) There is no authority for such things.

            We have all the light we need in the Apostles, and no further need to renew the Covenant which Christ has already given us – it is perfect, without need for change. It is more than a common faith, but the faith once for all delivered. Once you start to ‘tweek’, ‘develop,’ ‘renew,’ ‘redefine,’ then you run into problems such are Marian adoration, adoration of Saints, penance, indulgences, Latin only, and a whole host of doctrines which are clearly man-made.

            There is room in the writings of the Apostles for development, progression, or whatever term you care to use to justify any move away from the doctrine of the Apostles.

          4. Joel,
            Please, you need to read some on the Ecumenical Councils. Not just political for us Anglicans, nor the Orthodox, nor many Reformed Christians either. Some good books (on this subject) come from the Roman Catholic here also. Get with the whole Church Catholic will you please?
            Fr. R.

          5. The whole Church Catholic? I’ll stick with the Bible, Fr. Robert. I’ll stick with what was good enough for Peter and Paul. I have read the ecumenical councils – again, you assume because I disagree with you, I haven’t read them or their history. This is the wrong way to discourse.

          6. Joel,
            Saying that the Ecumenical Councils are simply political, this is ignorant itself, and hardly thought out discourse. And no you never deal with the biblical text, as I seek to at least. My quote on 2 Cor. 3, and St. John 14:26, etc. Think, mate think!!! I am not seeking to make you agree with me, I gave up on that long ago, but to “think”…well that is the real issue!
            Fr. R.

          7. The real issue is you not addressing my points, or taking my points out of context. Nicaea, while the outcome important, was political, so was 381, etc… So what?

  1. Joel,
    It would be nice if you thought out your replies, I can see that you have not thought at all about my last post. Just fired away! Such a “fundamentalist” answer, sad! You might want to read about what we Anglicans (real Anglicans) believe. I bet you have never read thru the Thirty-nine Articles?
    Fr. R.

    1. Fr. Robert, what would be really nice is for you to be a whole lost less condescending to people who don’t agree with you. Further, if you could cease from name calling, I would greatly appreciate it.

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