PIUS X 1903-1914

The Authors and the Time of the Composition of the Psalms *


[Reply of the Biblical Commission, May 1, 1910]


2129 Question 1: Whether the designations Psalms of David, Hymns of David, Davidian Psalter, used in the ancient collections and in the Councils themselves to designate the Book of 150 psalms of the Old Testament, just as also the opinion of many Fathers and Doctors who held that absolutely all the psalms of the Psalter are to be ascribed to David alone, have such force that David ought to be held as the only author of the entire Psalter?–Reply: In the negative.


2130 Question 11: Whether from a comparison of the Hebraic with the Alexandrian Greek text and with other old versions it can rightly be argued that the titles of the psalms prefixed to the Hebraic text are more ancient than the so-called version of the seventy men; and therefore have derived, if not directly from the authors themselves of the psalms, at least from an old Judaic tradition?–Reply: In the affirmative.


2131 Question III: Whether the aforesaid titles of the psalms, witnesses of the Judaic tradition, since there is not serious argument against their authenticity, can prudently be called into doubt?–Reply: In the negative.


2132 Question IV: Whether, if the by no means infrequent testimonies of Holy Scripture about the natural skill of David, illustrated by the grace of the Holy Spirit in composing the religious hymns, are considered, the institutions established by him on the liturgical singing of the psalms, the attributing of the psalms to him both in the Old Testament and the New, and in the inscriptions themselves which were prefixed to the psalms from antiquity, besides the consensus of opinion of the Jews, Fathers, and Doctors of the Church, it can be prudently denied that David is the chief author of the hymns of the Psalter; or on the other hand affirmed that only a few hymns of the Psalter are to be attributed to him? Reply:–In the negative to both parts.


2133 Question V: Whether in appearance the Davidian origin can be denied to those psalms which are cited in the Old and New Testament distinctly under the name of David, among which to be considered before the rest come: psalm 2, Quare fremuerunt gentes; psalm 15, Conserva me, Domine; psalm 17 Diligam te, Domine, fortitudo mea; psalm 31, Beati, Quorum remissae sunt iniquitates; psalm 68, Salvum me fac, Deus; psalm 109, Dixit Dominus Domino meo?–Reply: In the negative.


2134 Question VI: Whether the opinion of those can be admitted who hold that among the psalms of the psalter some, whether of David or of other authors, which for liturgical and musical reasons, the listlessness of the amanuenses, or for other unknown reasons, have been divided into several groups or joined into one; and likewise that there are other psalms, such as Miserere mei, Deus, which, that they may be made to fit in better with historic circumstances or the solemnities of the Jewish people, have been lightly revised and modified by the subtraction or addition of one or two verses, although preserving the inspiration of the entire sacred text?–Reply: In the affirmative to both parts.


2135 Question VII: Whether the opinion can probably be sustained of those among more recent writers who, relying on internal indications only, or on an inaccurate interpretation of the sacred text, tried to show that not a few psalms were composed after the times of Esdras and Nehemias, even in the late period of the Machabees.–Reply: In the negative.


2136 Question VIII: Whether because of the many testimonies of the Sacred Books of the New Testament, and the unanimous consent of the Fathers, together also with the indications of the writers of the Judaic nation, more psalms should be recognized as prophetic and messianic, which have predicted the coming of the future Liberator, the kingdom, the priesthood, the passion, the death, and resurrection; and therefore their opinion ought to be completely rejected, who pervert the prophetic and messianic nature of the psalms and restrict the same oracles on Christ only to pronouncing the future lot of the elect people?–Reply: In the affirmative for both parts.

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