Biblical Archaeology Review 38:4, July/August 2012

Can Archaeology Help Date the Psalms?

By Mitchell First

The previous issue of BAR included an article on the possibly oldest Hebrew inscriptions. Among the candidates were two abecedaries—that is, inscriptions of the alphabet. No words, just the alphabet.1 These abecedaries can also provide some archaeological help in dating the Book of Psalms!

The 150 psalms in the Book of Psalms are traditionally divided into five books. This division is already reflected in the Bible, as certain verses seem to serve as divisions between the books.2 These books probably originated as independent collections.3 This is seen, for example, by the fact that Psalm 53, in the second book, is an almost identical repetition of Psalm 14.

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