The Wisdom Shaping of the Psalter


Wisdom Psalms
Canonical Approach

How to Cite

Dunham, K. (2023). The Wisdom Shaping of the Psalter: From Wisdom Psalms to a Wisdom Framework. Old Testament Essays, 36(2), 445–470. Retrieved from


Much debate surrounds the alleged presence of wisdom in the Psalter. Many studies focus on the identity and nature of wisdom psalms. This approach remains controversial in that few interpreters agree on which psalms constitute wisdom psalms. This article argues that a preferable approach concentrates on the function of wisdom persons, terms and themes in shaping the Psalter. Key markers suggest that the final editors of the Psalter intended the book to be read and mastered as a wisdom writing by their placement of wisdom vocabulary, paragons and motifs as mnemonic benchmarks. These features include the governing position of Pss 1–2 as the twin introduction to the Psalter, the distribution of the ‘ashre’ formula, lexical and thematic ties to Proverbs, the use of the term ‘maskil’ in connection to David’s wisdom, the recurring presence of sages and the wisdom framing of Book V. These factors hint that wisdom carried a decisive, functional influence in shaping the Psalter.


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