A.L.H.M. van Wieringen, «Psalm 65 as Non-Appropriation Theology», Vol. 95 (2014) 179-197
The biblical perspective that a receiver of God's promises is not allowed to claim these promises is called non-appropriation theology. Psalm 65 can be read as an example of this non-appropriation theology. The 'I'- character does not claim the fertile Land but can only speak about the abundance of the harvest of their wheat (v. 10). The heading of Psalm 65, identifying the 'I'-character as David, preserves the non-appropriation theology. This non-appropriation theology is retained in the receptionhistory of Psalm 65, as can be found in the Septuagint and the liturgical use of Psalm 65 in the funeral Mass.
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Psalm 65 as Non-Appropriation Theology
In the Bible, the receiver of God’s promises is not allowed to
claim these promises. I call this biblical perspective non-appropri-
ation theology. This non-appropriation theology can very often be
observed in narrative texts. I have already pointed out that Gen
22,1-19 reflects this non-appropriation theology within the Abra-
ham-cycle: Abraham does not himself outrightly possess the reali-
zation of God’s promises, formulated in 12,2, but rather has to forfeit
the realisation of these promises by giving up his son Isaac 1.
In this article, I will uncover the non-appropriation theology
which can be found in the poetic text of Psalm 65. The first-per-
son-characters of Psalm 65 and, in their wake, the text-internal
reader are usually supposed to enjoy the Lord’s blessings, such as
being chosen and inhabiting the Promised Land. However, a com-
munication analysis shows this interpretation to be rather problem-
atic, for in Psalm 65 there is no identification at all between the
first-person-characters and the recipients of the Lord’s blessings!
The text-internal reader is also purposely blocked from being cho-
sen and from receiving the Promised Land. A communication-ori-
ented analysis makes it clear that the position of both the
“I”-character and the text-internal reader can be described as being
in a position of non-appropriation.
This exegetical result matches ancient re-readings of the psalm.
I will deal with two of them: the new heading of Psalm 65 in the
Vulgate, and the use of Psalm 65 in the funeral liturgy according
to the Roman rite. The reluctance to personally appropriate the
promises made by the Lord in the psalm is theologically relevant.
A.L.H.M. VAN WIERINGEN, “The Reader in Genesis 22:1-19: Textsyntax –
Textsemantics – Textpragmatics”, EstBíb 53 (1995) 289-304.
BIBLICA 95.2 (2014) 179-197