Friedhelm Hartenstein

Iconicity of the Psalms

Volume 5 () / Issue 4, pp. 326-349 (24)

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The article contributes to a better understanding of the imagery of the Psalms. A first part outlines the key concept of linguistic and non-linguistic symbols (following a suggestion from P. Ricœur, C. Geertz, and the concept of »image fields« by D. Peil). In order to interprete pictorial language in Israel's prayers one should not focus only on »inventive« metaphors but on the ongoing variation of conventional cultural (often cultic) symbols. The second part of the article shows the significance of the approach and elaborates in more detail on basic elements of the pictorial world of the Psalms, thereby using linguistic analysis as well as comparism with Ancient Near Eastern iconography (correspondence of cosmic and social sphere, temple and world, divine throne sphere as a fixed image field, images of life and abundance, the counter sphere of death). Some hermeneutical reflections on the role of the Psalter's mental images for the response of modern readers conclude the article.

Friedhelm Hartenstein Geboren 1960; Studium der Ev. Theologie, Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie; 1996 Promotion; 2001 Habilitation; 2002–10 Professor für Altes Testament und altorientalische Religionsgeschichte an der Universität Hamburg; seit 2010 Professor für Altes Testament an der LMU München.