Is somebody in there? Soliloquy in the Psalms.

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On Tuesday 7th May the Oxford Psalms Network will be hosting Prof. Dr. Alexandra Grund-Wittenberg (Philipps-Universität Marburg).

Is somebody in there? Soliloquy in the Psalms. 

A contribution to the concept of person in the O.T.

In a recent anthropological discussion on the concept of person in Ancient Israel R. Di Vito  claimed that in the Old Testament the person is “lacking … ‘inner depths’” and is “’authentic’ precisely in their heteronomy”. However, in a culture where people lack ‘inner depths’ or experience themselves as heteronomous and dependent on others, explicit interior communication within the person is difficult.  This paper contributes to this anthropological discussion by dealing with soliloquy in the Psalms. In contrast to the psychological phenomenon of self-talk, soliloquy is a literary device that is widespread in ancient Near Eastern and Old Testament narrative, usually marked by introductory formulas, while explicit passages in the Psalms are not so frequent. This talk gives an overview of the major psalms where a speaker is talking to his “heart” (leb) or “soul” (nefesh) and takes a closer look on their contents and contexts. These psalms dramatize the inner life of the speaker and demonstrate that in their struggles with foes, illness, social isolation, divine absence or wrath they are not alone and their communication with their inner soul is a counterbalance to this.