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ART. IV.—THE TITLES OF THE PSALMS. 1. The Psalms Translated from the Hebrew, with Notes
chiefly Exegetical. By WILLIAM KAY, D.D. (London, . 1871.) 2. The Holy Bible, with Commentary. Edited by F. C.
COOK, M.A. Vol. IV. the ‘Poetical books.' (London,
1873.) 3. The Psalms Chronologically Arranged By FOUR FRIENDS. . Second Edition. (London, 1870.) 4. The Psalms, with Introductions and Critical Notes. By A.
C. JENNINGS, M.A. Assisted in parts by W. H. LOWE, . M.A. (London, 1877.) 5. The Book of Psalms : a New Translation, with Introduc
tions and Notes Explanatory and Critical. By J. J. STEWART PEROWNE, D.D. Fourth Edition, revised. (London, 1878.)
To judge from the volumes that lie before us, there seems to be something like a consensus among modern English critics that the Titles of the Psalms, whatever value may be attached to them, form no integral part of the text of Holy Scripture. Dr. Kay alone is consistent in upholding their authority throughout; in the Speaker's Commentary they are usually treated with considerable respect, though the editor appears to consider that they have no claim to be regarded as fixed portions of the Canon, and accordingly we find doubts expressed concerning their accuracy in some few places; while the ‘Four Friends, who, in their chronological arrangement of the Psalter blindly follow the guidance of Ewald ; and Messrs. Jennings and Lowe appear substantially to agree with the verdict expressed in the popular Commentary of the Dean of Peterborough :2. The Inscriptions cannot always be relied on. They are sometimes genuine, and really represent the most ancient tradition. At other times they are. due to the caprice of later editors and collectors, the fruits of conjecture or of dimmer and more uncertain traditions. In short, the Inscriptions of the Psalms are like the Subscriptions to the Epistles of the New Testament: they are not of any necessary authority, and their value must be weighed and tested by the usual critical processes.'!
1 Vol. i. p. 103.
15 of forf various iss? We the boo The
. When, therefore, we find that, with but few exceptions, our modern English Commentators (following, as usual, the lead of the Germans), are agreed upon their right to treat the titles as no integral parts of the Psalms to which they are prefixed, we may fairly inquire what are the facts of the case, and what are the grounds that have led them to this conclusion. . And first, what are the facts of the case ? To begin with, the comparison of the inscriptions with the subscriptions of the Epistles made by the Dean of Peterborough, and repeated with approval by the ‘Four Friends ’l and Mr. Jennings, is wholly misleading. The subscriptions to the Epistles are wanting in the oldest MSS. and Versions; and are probably due to the conjecture of Euthalius, Deacon of Alexandria (A.D. 458), and in the MSS. in which they occur there is often considerable variety of form, as may easily be seen by a reference to the digest of various readings in any of the critical editions. In the earliest MSS.' writes Dr. Scrivener,
the subscriptions as well as the titles of the books [sc. the Gospels), were of the simplest character. . . . The same is the case throughout the New Testament. After a while, the titles become more elaborate, and the subscriptions afford more information, the truth of which it would be hardly safe to vouch for.' 3
Passing now to the Titles of the Psalms, all this is changed. Against them, as a class, not a tittle of external evidence can be brought: their form is identical in all MSS. and (with the slightest exceptions) Versions, whatever their date may be. 4 In fact, we may say that as regards external evidence, they stand on exactly the same footing as the Psalms themselves ; and in favour of their genuineness, we point (1) to the consent of MSS. and Versions, and (2) to the fact that they were un1 p. 438.
2 Introd. p. 9. 3 Introd. to Criticism of the New Testament, p. 60.
4 This has been already pointed out by Mr. Armfield (Gradual Psalms, c. ii.), to whose argument the Dean of Peterborough replies in a note. Our earliest MS, of the Old Testament, of which the date is certain, is of the tenth century, whereas, we have MSS. of the New Testament of the fourth, a century earlier than the date at which the subscriptions were added. If the MSS. of the Old Testament were of corresponding antiquity, we might, in the same way, be able to trace the addition of the inscriptions. And this is rendered almost certain when we observe the variations of the LXX. and the Syriac, and when we further bear in mind that the historical inscriptions are prefixed only to David's Psalms. What this last remark has to do with the subject, we confess that we are unable to see. The case of the LXX. and Syriac is considered in the text : and we would only add, that no reasonable man can doubt that the inscriptions were read by Origen and Jerome in their Hebrew MSS. exactly as we have them in our own.
intelligible to the translators of the LXX., and therefore considerably more ancient than that version.
(1) The consent of MSS. and Versions. There are absolutely no Hebrew MSS. in which they are omitted as a class. Of course, here and there, a particular title may be wanting in some few MSS., just as a word or a verse elsewhere may be, but there is nothing in the MSS. in the very least degree parallel to the variations in the subscriptions of the books of the New Testament. Nor are the Versions much less unanimous. It is true that the editor of the Speaker's Commentary can write, The variations of the inscriptions in the LXX. and other ancient Versions sufficiently prove that they were not regarded as fixed portions of the Canon, and that they were open to conjectural emendation ;' but the case is surely overstated, and a reference to the Versions themselves rather leads to the opposite conclusion. The LXX. certainly often gives us additional titles, not found in the Hebrew, but in only two instances is a title existing in the Hebrew undoubtedly absent from the LXX., viz. cxxi. and cxxiii. (Heb. cxxii. and cxxiv.); in three other Psalms (cxxvi., cxxx., cxxxii.) the balance of evidence seems in favour of the insertion of the titles in the LXX., though they are absent from the Roman text; 2 while the title prefixed to cxxxvii. (Heb. cxxxyiii.) gives a remarkable instance of the reverence with which the translators regarded the Hebrew text before them. The title runs as follows: falòs To Aavid ’Ayyalov kaÌ Zaxaplov. Even in this case, where the translators evidently referred the Psalm to the time of the Return from the Captivity, they have not ventured to expunge the title claiming David as its author. Nor are the translators of the LXX. alone in this reverence for the titles : they were treated as portions of the Psalms by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, in all of whose versions they find a place : they are interpreted and explained in the Targum : prefixed in every case in the Latin Versions, from the LXX. of course in the Gallican Psalter, and so in the Vulgate ; but translated anew from the Hebrew in Jerome's later version, which gives us convincing evidence that there has been no growth in the titles, standing as it does midway between the date of the LXX. and that of the oldest existing Hebrew MS. In fact, the only ancient translations in which
1 The LXX. may here claim the support of the Targum, which also omits the title.
2 The Vatican MS. is unfortunately wanting in this part. The Alexandrian has the titles in cxxx. and cxxxii., but not in cxxvi. For the evidence, see further Field's Hexapla.
they are ignored are the Christian versions in Syriac and Arabic, in both of which their places are generally occupied by titles, sometimes referring to the occasion of the original composition of the Psalms, but more often explaining their spiritual application. In these exceptions, however, it should be noticed that the titles are not varied, but ignored, entirely fresh ones being substituted ; and it is by no means safe to infer that the titles were wanting in the MSS. from which the Versions were made. They were probably omitted to make room for the new ones explaining how the Psalms were interpreted by the Church.
(2) Secondly, we claim a still higher antiquity for the titles, from the fact that in many cases they were absolutely unintelligible to the translators of the LXX., the key to their true interpretation having been lost before that version was made. The information conveyed by the inscriptions is of three kinds, concerning (1) the author, (2) the circumstances under which the Psalm was composed, and (3) the liturgical use to be made of it. In the interpretation of the first two classes there is generally no sort of difficulty, and consequently these are fairly represented in the Greek and other Versions ; but with regard to the third, the case is different. It would almost seem that the meaning of the liturgical directionis was lost during the Babylonish Captivity, for there is no allusion to them in the Books of the Return, such as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Haggai ; while the solitary reference to them in Chronicles is in connexion with David's original arrangement of the musical service, and throws no light whatever on the expressions employed. In any case, we can hardly suppose that the terms in question were in common use after the rebuilding of the Temple, and restoration of the musical service, or some surer traditions of their meaning must have survived, if not in the LXX., yet in the Targum or the Talmud.
Turning then to the LXX., and comparing the liturgical notices there with the corresponding passages in the Hebrew, we are at cnce struck by the hopeless ignorance of their meaning displayed by the translators. A few instances will suffice to make this clear. The well-known formula n.wips (for the Precentor) which occurs in the inscriptions more than fifty times is invariably rendered eis TÒ Télos, and other terms still unintelligible to us were even more so to these early translators, e.g.:
1 i Chron. xv. 20, 21: the passage is probably taken from an older document.
VOL. VII.----NO. XIV. CC
Ps. v. 1. nisone-by (A. V.'upon Nehiloth) appears in the
LXX. as ÚTèp tạs kampovououons:
07Tào Top Ampou..
.kpudlov toù vioû.. Ps. xxii. 1. noun nx-by (A. V. upon Aijeleth Shahar) úmèp
της αντιλήψεως της εωθινής. Ps. xlv. 1. D'INDO-Sy (A. V. upon Shoshannim) ÚTèp TÔ
allowwnoouévov.. Ps. lxxxviii. 1. nibus nano-hy (A. V. upon Mahalath Lean
noth) Útèp Masrè0 toù åtorpidîvai. What conclusion can we possibly arrive at from a study of these examples, but this : That when the translation was made in the second century B.C., the titles were of no recent date, but that their origin and meaning were already lost in obscurity ? And this conclusion is confirmed by an examination of the titles themselves, and a consideration of the cases in which they are present or absent. In the first book (Pss. i.-xli.) four Psalms are without any title, viz., i., ii., X., xxxiii.; of these, i, and ii. are introductory, and, according to S. Jerome, were reckoned as but one Psalm,' while x. is clearly due to the author of ix.—to which it is joined in four Hebrew MSS., as well as in the LXX.,—and xxxiii. is connected with xxxii. in at least ten MSS. In the second book (xlii.-lxxii.) there are only two orphan Psalms,' viz., xliii. and lxxi., of which xliii. is evidently a portion of xlii., being rightly joined to it in no less than forty-six MSS., and lxxi, forms but a part of lxx. in twenty-seven MSS. In the third book (lxxiii. lxxxix.) titles of some sort are found in every case. In the fourth (xc.-cvi.) they are wanting in eight, and in only three instances is the name of the author given; and in the fifth book (cvii.-cl.) they are absent from eighteen ; while of the thirty-six Psalms in this book in which some title is given, in only sixteen is the authorship mentioned, fifteen Psalms being assigned to David and one to Solomon. Now were these titles due to a late editor or compiler, we should expect that they would be fullest in those Psalms composed nearest to his own date, and that they would be absent from the earlier Psalms, concerning the composition of which information would presumably be more difficult to obtain. But as a matter of fact, precisely the reverse is the case. The older the Psalm, the more confidently do we look for a title. The fact is striking ; and it is
1 So the Talmud: Tr. “Berachoth,' f. 9. 2.