Title page for ETD etd-09182007-122559

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Viviers, Lizette
URN etd-09182007-122559
Document Title Psalm 116 in its context : an intra-, inter- and extratextual analysis
Degree MA (Ancient Language and Culture Studies)
Department Ancient Languages
Advisor Name Title
Prof G T M Prinsloo
  • extratextual analysis
  • intertextual analysis
  • intratextual analysis
Date 2007-07-28
Availability restricted
Psalm 116 is found in Book Five of the Psalter, as part of the collection of the Hallel-psalms (Psalms 113-118). This collection is also known as the Egyptian Hallel (cf. Psalm 114), which calls into remembrance the Exodus of the nation from Egypt. It forms part of the festival liturgy as well as the family celebrations of Jewish Passover.

The purpose of this song of thanksgiving is not to record the historical events that the poet experienced, but to interpret these events and give (religious) meaning to it. The reaction of the faithful ones is dictated by the religious customs of a time when the correct manner of worship was very important.

The major problems presented by the Psalm is the difficulty of defining the structure and various interpretational problems such as death and the underworld in verse 15, the cup of salvation in verse 13, the land of the living and the bands or chords of death, and ‘servants’ in verse 16. The death of his servants is regarded as ‘precious’ in verse 15, an interpretation which poses numerous problems.

The majority of literature written on this psalm concerns itself mostly with the intratextual or literary aspects of Psalm 116 in particular or the collection of which Psalm 116 forms part. The hypothesis is that the researcher will come to a more comprehensive understanding of this particular text if it is viewed from more perspectives than just intratextuality. Therefore, the research method consists of a combination of intra-, inter- and extratextual analyses. The three ‘levels’ of research broadly outlines the chapters of this study. Chapter 2 contains the intratextual analysis where specific reference is made to the different poetic stratagems, intent and translation of the Psalm. Chapter 3 describes the difficulties of translation and interpretation that occurs in Psalm 116. Chapter 4 consists of the intertextual analysis that investigates the poem's Gattung and Sitz im Leben, and Psalm 116 in light of the collection of Hallel-psalms of which it is part. The extratextual analysis, in particular the iconography, mythology and the social-scientific study of the Psalm is addressed in Chapter 5, with the conclusion in Chapter 6.

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