The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential
by N.T. Wright
HarperOne. San Francisco. 196 pages.
Is there anyone writing today more prolific than N.T. Wright?
The former Bishop of Durham who now serves as the chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of Saint Andrews is tireless in his service to the church. Spanning biblical studies and theology, Wright has offered a feast of reflections to guide Christians in discovering resources to help them pursue faithful discipleship. He turns his attention to the Psalms, “the Church’s original hymnbook,” in an attempt to recover their value for Christians whom he contends have largely ignored this book of prayers. He joins others, notably Walter Brueggemann and Eugene Peterson, encouraging a spirituality that has the Psalms at the heart of prayer and worship. “The Psalms represent the Bible’s own spiritual root system for the great tree we call Christianity.”
He insists on describing the Psalms as songs. As such, they should be the hymns around which all worship is gathered rather than ancillary to contemporary praise worship or other hymnody. Why? The Psalms ground the community in the deep history of the people of God. Wright’s strongest proposal is that the regular praying and singing of the Psalms is transformative. He does not use that word lightly, or as a cliché, but truly with all its depth of meaning for discipleship.