The Medieval Irish Book of Psalms: A Clarification

Tyler Williams, at Codex: Biblical Studies Blogspot has written a clarification on his blog about the discovery of the Medieval Irish Book of Psalms. He correctly says that, since the Book of Psalms discovered in the Irish bog was written in Latin, then Psalm 83 in the Latin Vulgate is actually Psalm 84 in our English translations. Tyler wrote:

“There has been a clarification in connection to the Psalm book discovered in the Irish bog. Initial news reports said that the book was open to Psalm 83, which in most modern English translations is a prayer to wipe out the enemies of Israel. What no one noted is that they meant Psalm 83 in the Latin Vulgate, and the Latin Vulgate (like the Greek Septuagint it follows) is usually one chapter off of the Hebrew MT tradition and our modern English translations. So as it turns out – much to the dismay of all of those who interpreted this as some sort of sign from God – the book from the bog is open to Psalm 84 according to our modern translations.”

Even though I did not mention Psalm 83 in my post, I did so when I responded to the comment of one reader. The blog world and several Christian writers have made a direct connection between Psalm 83 and the war between Israel and Hezbolla. What many people failed to realize is that, since the psalms were in Latin and were taken from the Vulgate, the numbering of the Psalms in this collection would be different from the numbering of the Psalms in our English Bibles. In his post, Tyler explains the reason the numbering of the Psalms in our English Bibles differs from the Greek (the Septuagint) and from the Latin (the Vulgate) translations.

Many Christians are not familiar with textual differences between our English translations and many of the ancient translations and even the original Hebrew text. Complete dependence on the English translations can cause people to make mistaken assumptions, such as in the case, relating the psalm to the war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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5 Responses to The Medieval Irish Book of Psalms: A Clarification

  1. >Very good clarification. Thanks.

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  2. >Maybe someone out there who can decipher the text on this image can tell us if it is Psalm 83 or 84? Or maybe some other passage, like Psalm 81?Hear, O my people, while I admonish you; O Israel, if you would but listen to me!…O that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways!

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  3. >Milton,Thank you for your comment. Many bloggers have used this discovery to discuss the war in Lebanon and the struggle between Israel and Hezbollah.The fact is, many people are not aware that Psalm 83 in the Irish Book of Psalms is Psalm 84 in our English translations.Claude Mariottini

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  4. >Dear Cur Deus Homo ,The image that you mentioned in the comment has been associated with the Book of Psalms discovered in the Irish bog. Maybe my eyes are getting week, but I found it difficult to read the text from the image.Claude Mariottini

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  5. Anonymous says:

    >It’s easier to believe that Catholics failed to recognise the prophetic significance of the Psalm rather than your best scholars made an elementary mistake on versions.Cover-up?

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