Christopher Smart: A Translation of the Psalms of David

(1549 words)

When the Psalms are removed – liberated, one might say – from the Bible and printed normally instead of in that curious tradition of double columns, it is then possible to see them for what they are: an anthology of ancient Hebrew poetry. And what a varied anthology it is. There are poems of joy and exultation, and there are poems of a tender sadness. There are also poems of a quite shocking violence and brutality in which the psalmist calls down curses on his enemies, and it is hard to know how the church, and those medieval monks who learned the whole of the Psalter by heart and were required to recite it, could equate such sentiments with the commandment to love thy neighbour.

But the translators of the King James Bible …

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Curry, Neil. "A Translation of the Psalms of David". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 January 2008
[, accessed 26 November 2015.]