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date: 23 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The Psalms can conjure a variety of images ranging from the darkest fears of death and abandonment to the most exuberant worship of the Creator. The Psalter’s rhetorical power stems in large part from its deployment of literary imagery. Scholars employing iconographical approaches to the Psalms explore the structure of the texts by juxtaposing the literary imagery of the psalms with pictorial imagery from ancient Israel and the larger ancient Near East. In his 1972 monograph, The Symbolism of the Biblical World: Ancient Near Eastern Iconography and the Book of Psalms, Othmar Keel argues that “iconography compels us to see through the eyes of the ancient Near East.” In recent years, many biblical scholars have relied on ancient Near Eastern iconography to understand the background of biblical imagery. This article explores how pictorial imagery can enhance the exegetical process by focusing on Psalm 76, which shows how scenes of violence in ancient Near Eastern iconography can shape one’s reading of the Psalms.

Keywords: Psalms, Psalter, literary imagery, ancient Near East, Othmar Keel, iconography, biblical imagery, Psalm 76, violence

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