Skip to main content

Full text of "E. G. King on "The Influence of the Triennial Cycle upon the Psalter""

See other formats


STOP 



Early Journal Content on JSTOR, Free to Anyone in the World 

This article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in 
the world by JSTOR. 

Known as the Early Journal Content, this set of works include research articles, news, letters, and other 
writings published in more than 200 of the oldest leading academic journals. The works date from the 
mid-seventeenth to the early twentieth centuries. 

We encourage people to read and share the Early Journal Content openly and to tell others that this 
resource exists. People may post this content online or redistribute in any way for non-commercial 
purposes. 

Read more about Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate-jstor/individuals/early- 
journal-content . 



JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people 
discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching 
platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not-for-profit 
organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please 
contact support@jstor.org. 



CRITICAL NOTICES 579 



CRITICAL NOTICES, 

E. G. KING ON "THE INFLUENCE OF THE 
TRIENNIAL CYCLE UPON THE PSALTER." 

In the January number of the Journal of "theological Studies 
Dr. E. G. King has an important essay on the above subject. The 
two clever diagrams which are here reproduced will explain Dr. King's 
theory, and he, together with the editors of the Journal named, are 
cordially thanked for permission to use the blocks of the diagrams. 
Dr. King has made a most welcome and original contribution to the 
literary history of the Psalter. 

The first diagram explains the division of the Pentateuch into 
Sedarim on the triennial system. Dr. King follows the lines ably 
laid down by Prof. Buchler in this Review (Vol. VI). The readings in 
the three years are represented by three concentric circles, and the cycle, 
as Prof. Buchler urged, is taken as beginning on Nisan 1. Dr. King 
shows (like Prof. Buchler before him) that the triennial cycle accords 
in a really striking manner with Jewish traditions ; many incidents 
traditionally associated with certain dates are found to come round 
in the cycle to the very dates assigned by tradition. These precise 
dates were evolved by the Rabbis from the cycle of Sabbath-readings ; 
that is the theory, and it is certainly very probable in the light of 
the facts. 

Dr. King has accepted Prof. Buchler's results and has added original 
points of his own. Some of the most important new points must be 
cited. "In the first year of the cycle the readings from Genesis 
would have reached chap, xi, i.e. the Story of Babel and the Con- 
fusion of Tongues, at the season of Pentecost. Now it is certain that 
the writer of Acts ii associated the Confusion of Tongues with the 
Day of Pentecost, the Gift of the Spirit being a reversal of the curse 
of Babel." This is a very notable coincidence indeed. Again, in the 
second year of the cycle the Decalogue is read on Pentecost — whence, 
as Dr. Buchler suggested, the traditional association with Pentecost 
of the Giving of the Law. It is curious too that Exodus xxxiv comes 
round to the 29th of Ab, exactly eighty days after the 6th of Sivan 



5 8o 



THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 



(Pentecost), and the eighty days are accounted for by the two periods 
of forty before and after the sin of the Golden Calf. Now Exodus xxxiv 
" will be found to contain the elements of a second Decalogue by J, 
originally independent of the Decalogue by E in Exodus xx. Thus 
the 29th of Ab practically marks a second Giving of the Law, and we 

Table I. 




may note the fact that, in the third year of the cycle, Deuteronomy 
began on that day." The objection to this suggestion is that it 
proves too much. It would mean that the triennial cycle very much 
affected the arrangement of the Pentateuch, and this is hardly 
tenable. Also the argument seems to imply two inconsistent prin- 
ciples : one that the accidents of the cycle affected certain traditional 



CKITICAL NOTICES 



58l 



dates, the other that the accidents of traditional dates affected the 
cycle. It is remarkable, however, that the Decalogue should be read 
on the 1st of Elul in the third year of the cycle, and the 1st of EM 
■was a New Tear (Mishnah, Ro$h Hashana, I. i). What is most signi- 
ficant is that Genesis ended (with the death of Jacob and Joseph) 
on the first Sabbath in Shebat, and that Leviticus also ended on this 
same Sabbath. 

Table II. 



cj 



146_±"1H_J01 




If we now turn to the second diagram we have Dr. King's attempt 
to arrange the Psalter for a triennial cycle of 147-150 Sabbaths. 
Here Dr. King's success is very remarkable. He certainly gives us 
very strong ground for believing that the arrangement of the Psalter 
was influenced by the triennial cycle. Dr. King does not claim more 
than this. " I have no thought of suggesting," he writes, " that the 
Psalms were originally written for consecutive Sabbaths, but I do 



582 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW 

maintain that certain groups of Psalms belonged to certain definite 
points of the Calendar, that the triennial cycle was a natural develop- 
ment of this earlier thought, and that this triennial cycle was known 
to the editor who arranged the Psalter in Five Books." 

Beginning the cycle as before with Nisan, it is seen that " the first 
and third Books of the Psalter end in Shebat, exactly as the first and 
third Books of the Pentateuch end in Shebat." Further, " the second 
Book of the Psalter ends (Ps. lxxii) at the close of Elul, exactly as the 
second Book of the Pentateuch ends at the close of Elul." The 
benediction, as Dr. King ingeniously urges, Psalm lxxii. 19, obtains 
a new meaning if compared with Exod. xl. 34, read on the same 
day. Again the Asaph Psalms (lxxiii-lxxxiii) begin at the season of 
the Feast of Asiph in the seventh month, when in the first year of 
the cycle Gen. xxx. 22 ff. was read, which tells of the birth of Joseph, 
and derives the name from the root Asaph. Dr. King had already 
urged the connexion on independent grounds, and his argument is 
thus strangely if not strongly confirmed. Very noteworthy indeed 
is the fact brought out by a comparison of Diagrams I and II with 
regard to Ps. xc. This Psalm comes at the very time which tradition 
assigned to the death of Moses, and was read on or about the Sabbath 
on which Deut. xxxiii was read. The heading of Ps. xc, " A Prayer 
of Moses the man of God" (almost identical with Deut. xxxiii. i), is 
thus for the first time plausibly accounted for. For this, if for no 
other reason, Dr. King's theory deserves respectful consideration 
from Biblical students. Equally strong is Dr. King's further con- 
tention that the group of Psalms xc-c has been influenced by 
Deut. xxxii-xxxiii which were read at the same season. Dr. King is 
thus applying a new and enlightening principle to the criticism of 
the Psalms. Further, " the Kingship of God is characteristic of the 
Korah Psalms exactly as it is of the group xc-c. But if we turn to 
Table II we shall see that the Elohistic Korah Psalms xlii-xlix occupy 
exactly the same place in the first year of the cycle that the 
Psalms xc-c do in the second year, while Pss. cxliv-cl, which were sung 
in the third year of the cycle, also speak of the New Song and of the 
Kingship of God (cxlv. 1, cxlvi. 10) ; and this too at a time when, in 
the order of the Sedarim, the Song of Moses, which is the locus 
classicus for the Kingship of God, was recited." Can all this be 
accident, asks Dr. King. It is not perhaps accident, but some of 
it is a little forced. 

More plausible than the last two points is, as it seems to me, the 
coincidence that the fifteen Songs of Ascents, the Pilgrim Psalms 
(cxx-cxxxiv) occupy the fifteen Sabbaths from 1st Elul to Hanucca. 
"Thus, in the third year of the triennial cycle, these Psalms would 



CRITICAL NOTICES 583 

be the Sabbath Psalms in the Temple during those very months in 
which the constant processions of pilgrims were bringing the first- 
fruits." Again, there is a tradition (T. B. Megilla, 31 b) that the 
Pentateuchal " curses " were read in connexion with the Decalogue (at 
Pentecost and Rosh Hashana). The two Psalms of Imprecation 
(lxix and cix, see Acts i. 20) come the one immediately after 29th Ab, 
the other immediately after Pentecost. Again, the similarity between 
the closing Psalms of Book I and the closing Psalms of Book II, 
which are penitential in character, is explained by Dr. King on his 
theory, for these Psalms come at Penitential periods in the cycle; 
Pss. xxii and lxix-lxxii in Elul just before the New Year, and so forth. 
Here one feels that Dr. King is on doubtful ground, for surely the 
first book of Psalms was arranged on the principle of grouping 
together the oldest Psalms. The cycle can hardly have affected this 
grouping. 

Without following Dr. King into his further suggestion of a Psalm- 
cycle beginning, not as the triennial cycle did in Nisan, but on the 
second Sabbath in Shebat, enough has been said to indicate the 
importance and plausibility of his theory. That there was " some- 
thing in it" was clear enough from Prof. Btichler's investigations. 
Dr. King has greatly strengthened the case. Students of the Bible 
owe him their thanks for having placed before them a new principle 
of criticism which has had fruitful results in Dr. King's hands and 
may have further results in store. 

I. Abrahams. 



F. R. TENNANT ON THE FALL AND ORIGINAL SIN. 

The Sources of the Doctrines of the Fall and Original Sin, by 
F. R Tennant, MA., B.Sc. (Cambridge: at the University 
Press. 1903.) 

In this well-written and learned treatise, Mr. Tennant enunciates 
sound conclusions with regard to the Jewish attitude on the problems 
of the Fall and of Original Sin. He is to be specially congratulated 
on his emancipation from Weber, and Rabbinic studies must gain 
enormously from the fact that Christian theologians of the rank of 
Dr. Porter of Yale, and Mr. Tennant of Cambridge, are determined 
to work independently of such unsafe guides as have previously been 
accepted as infallible. Mr. Tennant's book is thus doubly welcome. 
It is intrinsically very good, and extrinsically it is epoch-making in 
that it marks another stage in the adoption of a truly critical and