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594 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
specimen of the value of Assyriology for Hebrew study, the latter is
chiefly of sociological interest. The derivation of 33 'roof,' also, is
obscure ; apparently the Hebrews were indebted to a foreign race for
the terms, though presumably not the appurtenances, of town and
house-life. The subject is one that might be profitably pursued.
S. A. Cook.
J. W. THIRTLE'S " TITLES OF THE PSALMS."
The Titles of the Psalms : their Nature and Meaning explained : by
James William Thibtle. (London, &c, Henry Frowde.)
This book embodies a new theory respecting the titles of the
Psalms. Hitherto — drastic emendations apart— general opinion has
acquiesced perforce in unsatisfactory explanations, none of which
are advocated with fervent conviction. But here is a forcible and
convincing presentation of a new point of view, and a fresh discussion
of the problems in question follows.
The clue which the writer has discovered is obvious once it is
discovered and explained : " In a proper arrangement of the material
the lines at the top of a psalm should . . . (i) describe the piece, whether
a Song, a Psalm, Michtam, &c, (2) state the author ... (3) set out the
circumstances of its composition ... or the object for which it was
written. . . . Anything not coming within this description belongs to the
preceding psalm" (p. 16). Nor is this merely a happy conjecture, for,
as the writer points out, we have in Habakkuk iii a psalm, standing
alone, which has a title giving class of the composition, author, and
circumstances, while the so-called Musical Title is placed at the end.
This original theory then, which postulates no deep-seated corrup-
tion of the text and is in itself simple and natural, is definitely
supported by good external evidence. Further, when applied, it
immediately approves itself— in some cases. Thus, according to the
common arrangement, Ps. lxxxviii is attributed by the title to two
distinct writers: (1) "A Song or Psalm for the sons of Korah, to the
chief Musician upon Mahalath Lpannoth, (2) Maschil of Heman the
Ezrahite" (A.V.). On Mr. Thirtle's theory, (1) is a foot-note to
Ps. lxxxvii, giving its liturgical use, and repeating also (cf. Ps. xlvi)
the information contained in the title at the beginning, " A Psalm or
Song for the sons of Korah." Similarly, the title of Ps. xlvi gains in
point and pertinency if it is attached to Ps. xlv. Thus the praises of
" the King's daughter " are fittingly allotted to the choir of Maidens
(Alamoth). And in the case of the title of Ps. lvi the connexion of
CRITICAL NOTICES 595
the first part, "To the chief Musician upon Jonath-elem-rehokim,"
with the preceding psalm has already been recognized. But it was
reserved for Mr. Thirtle to infer from this and the data of Habakkuk iii
a general theory which obviously goes far to mitigate the present
" Cimmerian darkness " which surrounds these titles, especially the
Musical Titles. Subsequent discussion of the problem will probably
recognize that this clue is to be followed, but not always, for its
universal application has led to fresh difficulties which strain even
the ingenuity of its discoverer.
To the statement of the general principle succeeds a discussion of
the individual titles regarded in the light of the Psalms to which they
are now attached, in accordance with that principle, and elucidated
by the application of " known facts and teachings as distinguished
from mere conjectures." The results are interesting and attractive, if
not always convincing. Often the " logical relevancy of the subscript
title " is neither obvious nor easily established. But in each case an
honest attempt is made to elicit the meaning of the words as words
and not names of mysterious musical instruments, of imaginary
popular songs and tunes, or of peoples, which have been overlaid
by the Massoretes and spring into life when the Hebrew Bible, like
a palimpsest, is treated with the powerful re-agent of "critical
Gittith, " winepress," naturally suggests the vintage-festival. This
meaning is adopted both by the Septuagint and the Vulgate and
is certainly preferable to " belonging to Gath." With the new view
the three Winepress Psalms are vii, lxxx, lxxxiii. Of these Ps. lxxx is
obviously appropriate (verses 8 and following) : for the connexion of
the others with the Feast of Tabernacles we must refer our readers to
Mr. Thirtle's book itself. " Gittith, GM6th=' winepresses,' recalls the
Feast of Tabernacles, the object of which was to commemorate God's
great goodness to Israel in their pilgrimage through the wilderness. . . .
The Tabernacles Feast brought to mind that He was their keeper.
Hence the Psalms illustrate reliance on God in times of adversity, and
that very plainly."
A similar treatment is applied to each of the titles. The natural
meaning of the words is first ascertained : then attempts are made
to determine the feast or famous event with which this meaning may
be naturally associated: finally, the preceding psalm is examined
in the light of that association. Thus, for example, Shoshannim,
" lilies," is identified with the spring-feast Passover, and Muth-labben
(Ps. viii) is explained with the Targum as " Death of the Champion,"
i. e. Goliath. And so throughout the titles are explained as marking
(1) the reasons for which Psalms were used in public worship.
5<j6 THE JEWISH QUARTERLY REVIEW
(2) national commemorations — wherever it is possible to do so. But
even in the case of titles which yield no such historical or liturgical
reference, the writer is not prepared to resort to the musical instru-
ments or tunes. Such enigmas as Sheminith and Jednthun are with
Alamoth regarded as the names of special choirs to which certain
psalms were particularly assigned. A summary would not do justice
to the ingenuity with which each new case is presented. The general
principle certainly deserves serious consideration. The second half of
the book is occupied with the text of " the Psalms according to the
Revised Version, with the Titles discriminated and explained."
J. H. A. Hakt.
THE SEPTUAGINT IN ENGLISH.
Thomson's Septuagint, by S. P. Pells, 2 vols., 12s. net. Hades by
S. P. Pells, 5*. net. (Skeffington and Son, 1904.)
A note on the title-page of the first volume of this reprint of
Thomson's English Translation of the Septuagint explains the purpose
of its editor, who is also the author of the accompanying volume,
which deals with " Hades." " In publishing this first English Trans-
lation of the Septuagint my object is (he says) to call attention to the
high estimation in which these Scriptures were once held in the
Christian Church for a thousand years; and in hopes of bringing
about a return to a more Apostolic faith I have published a work on
' Hades ' in conjunction with it." Mottoes taken from Ecclesiasticus
follow, and it is unfortunate that this selection has not induced the
editor to add a translation of the so-called Apocryphal books. If
respect is to be had to primitive Christian usage, it must be admitted
that these outcasts once stood as high in general esteem as those
books which found themselves on the safe side of the boundary line
when the limits of the Hebrew Canon were finally determined and
defined. In spite of this, the theory which Jerome taught, but failed
to put into practice, is nowadays practised though not always taught ;
and Mr. Pells can plead common custom in thus issuing a translation
of the Septuagint which includes no more than the " Old Testament "
as understood by the bookseller and the British and Foreign Bible
Society. It is something that this rare English (or American) version
of the Septuagint should have been republished. By its means
perhaps some of the students of the English Bible may learn that
there is such a thing as the Septuagint, even if they do not heed its
" written preaching." But it is deplorable that any one who cares so