• Book of Psalms
  • Job
  • Book of Proverbs
  • Job (Job job )
  • Psalms
  • Proverbs (Proverbs )
  • Kohelet (Ecclesiastes )
  • Canticles
  • Wisdom (Catholic and Greek Orthodox)
  • Sirach ( Ecclesiasticus ) (Catholic and Greek Orthodox)
  • Prayer of Manasseh (Greek Orthodox)

Name after the ÖVBE. Pseudepigrapha the Septuagint are in italics.

The Book of Psalms (Hebrew סֵפֶר תְּהִלִּים sefer tehillim ) is a book of the Hebrew Bible ( Tanakh ) and the Old Testament of the Christian Bible. In the Jewish canon, the book of Psalms is at the beginning of the third and last part, the "Writings " (Hebrew כְתוּבִים Ketuvim ), in the Christian canon, however, before the great prophets in the wisdom or textbooks in second place behind the Book of Job.

The Book of Psalms is a collection of 150 psalms, ie prayers and songs, which are divided into five books. The Psalms play a significant role both in Jewish and in Christian liturgy and were picked up, especially in music and literature.

  • 5.1 Stylistic Devices
  • 5.2 psalm headings
  • 5.3 Numbering of the Psalms
  • 6.1 The Psalms in the Jewish tradition
  • 6.2 The Psalms in Christian tradition
  • 6.3 psalm settings and paraphrases
  • 8.1 Transfers of Psalms into German
  • 8.2 launches
  • 8.4 Individual studies


The usual in the Christian tradition designation Book of Psalms or Psalms goes beyond the Latin title liber Psalmorum or Psalmi short of the Vulgate from the Greek ψαλμός ( Psalmos, plural psalmoi ), from the verb ψάλλειν ( psallein, " the strings play "). It is used in most of the Greek manuscripts of the Psalms and also in the New Testament citing (eg Lk 20,42 EFA ) needed.

The term Psalter can be traced back via Latin from the Greek Psalter ψαλτήριον ( psalterion ), which is used in the Septuagint in the Codex Alexandrinus of the 5th century. It refers both to a large stringed instrument ( psaltery ), as well as a collection of songs that are sung to the accompaniment. Both names are probably a match for the occurring only in the Book of Psalms Hebrew מִזְמור ( Mizmor, paraphrased as " kantilierender Chanting with stringed accompaniment ") are overwritten with the 57 of the 150 Psalms.

A Hebrew name for the Psalms, to which the Greek could decline is not known, even if the use of the plural form mizmorot occupied in Palestinian literature as a term for the totality of the Psalms. Enforced in the rabbinic literature has, however, the designation סֵפֶר תְּהִלִּים ( Sefer tehillim, "Book of Praises " ) or short Tillim ( Aramaic Tillin ) that are used in Judaism since then, although only a portion of the Psalms are songs of praise. The irregular plural male goes to the female singular form tehillah ( " praise " ) of הלל ( hll, " praise " ) back, but with only Psalm 145 is overwritten. To select the name Tehillim for the entire text collection may have derived from the same root word popular liturgical refrain Hallelujah, " praise the Lord" contributed.

Historical classification

The individual psalms of the Psalter each have their own history. Basic versions of individual psalms - especially royal psalms and Zionshymnen - probably evolved before the Babylonian exile of the Israelite monarchy. However, most of the Psalms are from the post-exilic period, ie at the earliest from the late 6th century BC

The Book of Psalms consists of originally separate parts of collections from the 6th to 3rd century BC, which were compiled in several phases. When the collection was completed, although controversial, in research but the years 200-150 BC tend to be specified. This is supported by the proximity to the later wisdom literature, which is recognizable in the recent editorial adaptations of the Psalter. In addition, the collection in its present form seems to have already been a fixture in the community of Qumran, which also literary about the year 70 can be fixed to make BC. However, there Psalm manuscripts from Qumran ( 11QPsa ), the end of the collection of a different order of the Psalms in particular. Whether this is a reference to the principle still unfinished process of compilation of the Psalter or merely represents a specific Qumran individual variation, is controversial.

The earliest written evidence of the completed book form of the Psalter is a manuscript from the second half of the 2nd century BC

Position in the canon

In the Hebrew Bible, the book of Psalms to the top of the third and last part, the "Writings " ( Ketuvim ) is provided. So the sequence is also in the Greek Septuagint. The Christian tradition assigns the Psalms, however, consistently ahead of the "prophets" in the wisdom or textbooks in second place behind the Book of Job a.

Structure of the Psalter


The book of Psalms in its current form is an editorial compilation of five originally separate books with each own history. The first Psalm is the book like a motto. He is after the unit translation:

With the combination of the five collections received each of them its own new degree in the form of a doxology. These praises of God lead to the conclusion in the five Hallelujah psalms, the so-called " final Hallel " ( Psalms 146-150 ). By this construction, the Psalter receive a structuring which formally assigns him the five-part Torah. In later rabbinic Midrash Tehillim (at least from the 11th century ) states: " Moses gave the Israelites the five books of the Torah, and David gave the Israelites the five books of Psalms. "

The full list of psalms found in Article Psalm headings.


In the book of Psalms to groupings and relationships can be identified among the Psalms, allow conclusions on their origin, their place in life and spiritual content:

  • History Psalms
  • Creation psalms
  • Egyptian Hallel Hallel or Passover ( Seder ) ( Ps 113-118 )
  • Great Hallel (Psalm 136)
  • Akrostichische Psalms ( Psalms Alefbeth, Didactic Psalms) (Ps 9/10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 112; 119; 145). The first letters of the verses form the Hebrew alphabet, which is used to facilitate memorization.
  • Penitential psalms (Ps 6, 32, 38, 51, ​​102, 130; 143)
  • YHWH - king - psalms (Ps 93-99 )

Psalm genres

While there are in the Tanakh at various points psalms as songs, hymns and actions (eg, song of Moses Ex 15:1-8 EU, Song of Hannah 1 Samuel 2:1-10 EU and Psalm of Jonah Jonah 2.3-10 EU ), so there is, however, in the book of Psalms, by far the largest component.

Content in the Psalms deal mainly with the following topics:

  • Praise and Thanks
  • Atonement ( seven so-called penitential psalms Ps 6, 32, 38, 51, ​​102, 130; 143)
  • Mourning
  • Morning and evening songs
  • Joy
  • Consolation
  • Asking for victory over godless enemies

Formal design

Stylistic devices

Most psalms are written in Hebrew poetic form, which by the parallelism membrorum: is characterized ( in Latin "parallel Versglieder " ): Two (or three ) consecutive verses or Vershälften show a particular substantive terms, by expressing the same variable ( synonymous parallelism ), complement (synthetic Parallelmus ) or a contrast form ( antithetic parallelism ).

Example of synonymous parallelism:

Example of synthetic parallelisms:

Examples of the antithetical parallelism:

Psalm headings

In Hebrew, the majority of Psalms are provided with headings, ranging from short byline on today barely understandable musical information up to several sentences long situation descriptions.

The post-exilic Judaism wrote almost half of the Psalms to King David. In about 20 of the 72 Psalms of David, the heading provides additional information on the connection of the Psalms with situations from his life. Although authorship of David could thus appear historically plausible that is spoken in the Tanakh and outside of the Psalter of David as " Lyre " (1 Sam 16.17 to 23 EU) and " poet " (2 Sam 17.17 to 23 EU). In the attribution of its authorship it but this is not a statement about the general history of the ( David ) Psalms, but their importance to the Jewish people, which is emphasized by the figure of King David. In this sense one speaks of a " Davidisierung " of the Psalms. Here, the Hebrew title " ledawid " on the one hand be seen as " David ", with which their spiritual dignity is expressed, on the other hand, as " David ", with which the people of Israel expresses its hope of messianic age in praying the Psalms. Also for the above as Psalmist Moses and Solomon highlights their authority, the meaning of the texts and places them in the tradition of Israel.

The Asaf and Korah psalms are texts that come from these two Jerusalem Levitical singers guilds and possibly were part of the temple cult.

The Greek translation of the Septuagint adds additional headers, which probably come from a different Hebrew text source. Thus, in the Septuagint and in the derived from these translations all the psalms have a heading, with the exception of the first two. Even then, the musical information of the Hebrew text were no longer understood in many parts; according to their cryptic Greek transmissions later gave rise to a variety of symbolic and mystical interpretation.

The German translations add more headings. They are not in the original Hebrew, but were only added by the translators for easy location and orientation.

Numbering of the Psalms

In the book of Psalms, the chapter divisions follow the individual psalms and is therefore original. This distinguishes the book from all the other books of the Bible, where the classification was carried out in chapter until the Middle Ages. The division into verses came up with the printing press in the wake of Robert Estienne, but largely follows the natural Verseinteilung of poetic texts.

The numbering of the Psalms differs slightly between the Hebrew text in the Masoretic Text version of the one part and the translations of the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate based on it on the other. Protestant Bibles include how the original text, the Martin Luther used for his translation. Older Catholic Bibles used to count the Septuagint and Vulgate. The Latin edition of the Bible used in the Catholic Church now, in 1979, published Nova Vulgate follows the numbering of the Masoretic text. Therefore, one must be careful on which of the two numbering refers a reference when referring to Psalms. Often the Psalm numbers of the form Ps 51 (50 ) can be specified. The higher number refers to the leading Hebrew counting.

The Greek text of the Septuagint knows an additional Psalm 151, but which is referred to in its title as " outside the numbering ". The Hebrew version of the so-called apocryphal psalm is occupied in a Qumran manuscript.

Meaning and effect of history

The Book of Psalms is the prayer book of the Jews and early Christians. Outside the Temple in Jerusalem, the psalms were usually sung without instrumental accompaniment.

The Psalms in the Jewish tradition

As before, the psalms are liturgical in use in the synagogue.

The Psalms in Christian tradition

Liturgy of the Hours of the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican church consists mainly of psalms and antiphons associated. Psalms are sung in the Mass, in the administration of sacraments and sacramentals, processions and pilgrimages, at the funeral. The imagery in Christian churches and communities often goes back to designs from the Psalms.

Martin Luther called the Psalms "the little Biblia " and thus points to the comprehensive religious wealth of the Psalter. John Calvin wrote in the introduction to his interpretation of the Psalms: "With good reason, I call usually the [ Psalm ] book provides a breakdown [ anatomy ] all parts of the soul ." Pope Benedict XVI. described the Psalms as God's gift to Israel and the Church, and as a " school of prayer " as would the word of God word of the prayer.

Psalm settings and paraphrases

Many psalms are set to music as psalmodies, hymns and liturgical chants. And their texts were often transferred to a rhyme and stanza form. Artists deal today often in the Psalms with adaptations or musical settings. The Psalter also has a musical instrument, the psaltery, given the name.