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The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential
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The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  861 Ratings  ·  130 Reviews
One of the world's most trusted Bible scholars, N. T. Wright turns his attention to the central collection of prayers that Jesus and Paul knew best: the book of Psalms. Wright points out that the Psalms have served as the central prayer and hymnbook for the church since its beginning--until now. In The Case for the Psalms, Wright calls us to return to the Psalms as a stead ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published September 3rd 2013 by Harper One
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Sandra Sadly no; except for the final chapter (and the penultimate chapter was also interesting to me because it addressed using the Psalms in liturgy;…moreSadly no; except for the final chapter (and the penultimate chapter was also interesting to me because it addressed using the Psalms in liturgy; Wright almost always spoke of "singing" the Psalms instead of "saying" or "reading" them, and it was nice that he finally talked about singing them, but even that discussion was woefully brief and inadequate for its stated purpose. But I suppose since it inspired me to go looking further for resources, perhaps it did accomplish its purpose after all.(less)

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Oct 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
About 10 years ago I read an article on N.T. Wright on the Christianity Today site. The article, was published when Wright was dean of Lichfield Cathedral, and I remember Wright making a comment that if you want to understand his theology, you have to see him at worship.

This is Wright at worship. In this book he commends the Psalms as a prayer book and as something that gives shape and depth to corporate worship. His context as an Anglican theologian has meant that he is part of a communion that
Oct 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While there are a few nuggets to be found in this book, most of the book attempts to cram the Psalms into three categories: time, space, and matter. This seems to be forced and muddles the beauty of the Psalms. It is also a bit confusing and at times I wondered exactly what the author was trying to communicate.
One thing that annoyed me about this book is the regular references to the author's other books--it was like having a stream of advertisements in-line while reading. Footnoting them would
Zack Clemmons
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A delightful little book, considering the Psalms through the lenses of time, space, and matter. I like Wright's attention to the continuity of Torah, Temple, and New Testament theology, and his ability to read each in the Psalter. I know something of the intellectual firepower he wields, and am thus more impressed with his ability to write clearly and simply, to hold back and dive in as needed. His personal account of living with the Psalms was endearing, and an encouragement to engage more deep ...more
Jacob Aitken
In many ways this might be Wright's best work ever. I had always suspected something like his thesis when I read the Psalms (more on that below) but I couldn't articulate it. The psalms give us a musical ontology. Wright says the Psalms transform the reader (better yet, the chanter and singer) because they place him or her at the intersection of Space, Time, and Matter--the very place where Jesus of Nazareth is.

People who pray the psalms will be learning to live in God’s time, space, and “matter
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This little book is an outstanding read in a couple of ways. Wright, for those who don't already know, is one of the world's most compelling and surely that most recognized New Testament scholar. In this he has written a book on the Psalms that draws upon the biblical worldview that he has articulated so well for his readers in his various volumes on Jesus, Paul and NT origins. In its own understated way the book makes clear how the ongoing life of the Church in worship is enriched and best unde ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Despite a few minor areas (in this volume at least) where I disagree with Wright's thoughts, I found this book to be very helpful and beneficial in showing how vital the Psalms are to a Christian's life. They aren't merely a collection of ancient poetry, but capture the entirety of Man---emotions, body, and soul---his relation to God, and the complex interactions we have with the world. Wright outlines it as relating to Time, Space, and Matter and one of the sections I found particularly engagin ...more
Becky Pliego
Dec 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I really wanted to love it, but I only liked it. I loved, however, the Introduction, and chapters 1-2
Joshua Parks
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Definitely the best part of this book is the afterword, titled "My Life With the Psalms." Wright tells of times in his life when particular Psalms brought him hope, comfort, and wisdom. I believe one of the most powerful ways God sustains our faith—or at least mine—is through the lives and stories of other believers, and this book fits the bill.
Jun 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that grew out of a lecture Wright gave on the Psalms (accessible on YouTube at ).

Wright investigates the Psalms as one who has meditated and sung them throughout his life (in the afterword he gets unusually personal with the role the Psalms played in his life) and as a scholar of Second Temple Judaism and the development of Christianity.

His case for the Psalms rests in three matters: time, space, and matter. He argues that the Psalms are where God's time and
Sep 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a fast, but edifying read. It's not an academic book, but more of a sustained spiritual reflection on the general themes of the psalms. Ok, I made it sound boring. It's not. This is N.T. Wright, after all, and these are the spiritual reflections of one of the leading Bible experts of our time. So these are incredible rich reflections. The reflections, which revolve around the tension between divine and human space, time and matter as expressed in the Psalms, have a decidedly eschatologi ...more
Jesse Slimak
Jun 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a great gem of a book: small but beautiful. Wright approaches the Psalms as a life long Anglican who has prayed, read and sung them for years. He also definitely approaches them through the lens and trajectory of the New Testament, but this is to be expected since that is his primary area of study.

Wright looks at the Psalms through the categories of time, space and matter and sees much that the Psalms point to fulfilled in the New Testament. He especially makes a compelling case for a c
Peter Davids
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was another great book from N. T. Wright. He admits that he is not a Psalms specialist, although he consulted with one, but he is indeed a faith specialist who has been singing the Psalms since at least age 7 (when he started as a choirboy), although he admits to times when the Psalms were dry for him. He sees in the Psalms the great themes of God's story, of creation and redemption, and he sees the dimensions of time and matter included in the story. So he sees the Psalms as transformative ...more
Amy Neftzger
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a short but meaningful book that discusses the importance of the psalms for Christians. The author explains how the psalms add to the richness of spiritual life by showing us how to relate to God, especially when these works of poetry are viewed within context of one another. Too often only portions of psalms are used in personal reading or worship. The author makes a great case for viewing these works collectively as one unit and describing how these pieces were designed to transform an ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tim Baumgartner
Since the time I heard about N.T. Wright, I've been able to observe his production as a Bible scholar. This guy gets things done! And done well (as far as I have read)! Once I read in the Table of Contents that his final chapter of this book was how he has directly benefited from the Psalms, I wanted to skip right to the end. But, I've been good and held out. Here's my synopsis:

Introduction (Ch. 1):
When I read "The Psalms represent the Bible’s own spiritual root system for the great tree we call
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Psalm 119 (really the last section of the psalm) changed the focus of my faith; it became my confession, my prayer, and my hope more than 20 years ago. And when I was done meditating on this passage, I began looking more closely at the collection of poetry and songs found in the middle of our Bibles. I was blown away by what I found and marveled that this book had been largely ignored in my Christian experience.

Oh, we read snippets here and there, but for the most part, we skimmed over this sec
Concise Reader
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
A decent book that doesn't offer anything new.

Here is how Wright summarizes the goal of his book:

In particular, I propose in this book that regular praying and singing of the Psalms is transformative. It changes the way we understand some of the deepest elements of who we are, or rather, who, where, when, and what we are... I hope my exposition of these themes will hep to explain and communicate my own enthusiasm for the Psalms, but I hope even more than they will encourage those churches that h
Thailer Jimerson
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Though a small book, it packs a punch for the worldview-shaping power of the psalms. Wright's simple point is to call for a rediscovery and reintegration of the psalms into a church world overladen with contemporary worship songs and suffering from a deep poverty of the church's original hymnal. His main point, beautifully summarized from Ephesians 2.10 is that we are God's "poiema" (Gk. for 'poem') and by accepting the invitation to inhabit the time, space and matter - i.e., the world of - the ...more
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian
Although he discussed some beautiful theological ideas, they did not in any way seem to support his thesis. He has a beautiful love for the psalms and that is clearly conveyed, but overall, the book read as a boomer trying to prove something was important because he thought it was important first, and then tried to assign meaning to it after, to prove the kids these days are doing it wrong.

As well, I was surprised at how little evidence he offered for the claims he made about the psalms and the
Maximilian Nightingale
Not bad at all! A great follow up to Bergsma’s book on the Psalms. Wright is best when he is considering whole sections of the Book of Psalms, showing how a theme develops from one to another. His section on the references to places in the Psalms was especially helpful. The book is more devotional than scholarly, so it will not satisfy every question on the Psalms, but still a great little exhortation.
Robb Sutherland
Feb 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Great book. My only complaint was that the audible version is very posh. I know I’m not the typical demographic of the Church of England. It would have been nice to break out of the stereotype and had someone with any form of regional accent.
Daniel Rose
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Helpful and accessible

This was a helpful little primer on the Psalms. It’s concise and straight to the point. I recommend it without any hesitation. The focus on time, space, and matter particularly insightful.
Richard Young
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's NT Wright, so naturally it rules.
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Good but more on academic side
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful little book. I found Wright's meditations on space, time, and matter in the Psalms not only refreshing but timely.
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A quick and readable little book about how the Psalms might reshape our views of time, space, and matter.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bible, psalms
absolutely wonderful
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This guy digs his Psalms. The target audience for this book is, of course, Christian. So it seems strange to me that Christians would need to read a book that recommends they read the central holy text upon which the entire religion is founded. Surely if you’re a Christian you read your bible anyway? And the Psalms are a pretty significant chunk of that. This book is well-written and the author is eloquent. I just don’t see why this book is necessary.
Nancy DeValve
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: bible-knowledge
N.T. Wright is passionate about using the Psalms in both private and corporate worship. His passion is contagious and I was reminded how seldom I am in the Psalms.

He shows how the Psalms relate to time, space, and matter: Time because the invoke the past and anticipate the future, Space because heaven and earth meet in the temple, and matter because God delights in all he has made.

I had a hard time staying engaged while reading, but that has more to do with me than N. T. Wright's writing style,
Alexis Salcido
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
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N. T. Wright is the former Bishop of Durham in the Church of England (2003-2010) and one of the world's leading Bible scholars. He is now serving as the chair of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity at the University of St. Andrews. He has been featured on ABC News, Dateline NBC, The Colbert Report, and Fresh Air, and he has taught New Testament studies at Cambridge, McGi ...more
“When humans take up their divinely appointed role, looking after God's world on his behalf, this is not a Promethean attempt to usurp God's role. It is the humble, obedient carrying out of the role that has been assigned. The real arrogance would be to refuse the vocation, imagining that we know better than God the purpose for which we have been put here.” 4 likes
“It shouldn’t be difficult, then, to make the transposition at this point into the early Christian vision of Jesus and the Spirit and the way in which the material world is both celebrated and renewed through their work. The Jewish basis for the early Christian patterns of belief and behavior is clear. It is important that God’s people are embodied, because God made this world and has no intention of abandoning it. The material of creation is a vessel made to be filled with God’s new life and glory, even though the transformation may involve suffering, persecution, and martyrdom.” 3 likes
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