Psalms - where do you start the first verse?

Discussion in 'OT Wisdom Literature' started by Eoghan, Jan 17, 2019.

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  1. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    I was listening to Joel Beeke explain that Dutch Bibles start the verse numbering with the heading. He accepts that the heading is part of the text which prompted me to check a Jewish copy of the OT and they number the heading as the first verse. This means that Dutch and Jewish verse references can be "plus one" in many psalm references.

    What is the reason that many reformed folks reject the heading as part of the text? I don't accept "we were told at seminary" or "tradition" as valid arguments?

    The only grounds I could forsee is a document from antiquity which has no headings with attributions or directions.
  2. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    Quick, grab a newspaper and start reading it. I'll bet you skipped over the byline and dateline, if there was one. When singing hymns, we don't sing at the end: Isaac Watts, Short Metre. The information can be important, even inspired, but not be seen as a spoken part of the text.
  3. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    "Reject" is likely too strong a word. But I don't have an answer as to why English translations (at least as far back as the Geneva Bible) treat the superscript separately as a prefix, while the Hebrew, Septuagint and Latin Vulgate incorporate it as verse 1 (as does Luther). Perhaps our historians can weigh in with some insight?

    Personally, I treat the superscripts as useful information - though some are more obviously useful than others. The biographical information is a bit like the background story of a hymn; in some cases, it gives a richer understanding to the hymn, while in other cases, there is no such interesting story. Either way, the meaning of the psalm is still contained in the body of the psalm itself, not a reconstructed background.
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  4. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    I was puzzled that this should even be an issue, then it dawned on me what was at stake.
  5. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    I'm not sure the numbering differences reflect a different understanding of what is inspired text. I suspect they're just different numbering customs. This is annoying for those who must deal with older translations or with Latin or Jewish ones. There are differences in how the 150 (or 151) psalms are numbered, too, and Catholic Bibles enter into the mix in that case. Equally annoying.
  6. Eoghan

    Eoghan Puritan Board Senior

    One of the important distinctions I think is between the MT and the LXX. The latter does add superscriptions which I would disregard. The LXX is a translation in my opinion, the MT represents the original text.
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