Praise, and Prophecy: A Theology of the Psalms by Geoffrey Grogan (Fearn: Christian Focus Publications, 2001)
This introductory overview of the Psalms comes highly recommended on the cover, with glowing praise from such worthies as Dale Ralph Davies, Alec Motyer, John Mackay, and Desmond Alexander. And it is an excellent book, a great example of an integrated biblical theology which is aware of questions of textual criticism, doctrine, ethics, historical theology, and pastoral practice, addressing them all at various points as appropriate.
With chapters of only about 10 pages each, it is easy to get through (a great book at bedtime!). It is best read with a Bible open by the side of the book because it is constantly referring to the text of Psalms itself without necessarily quoting texts in full each time, although if one is familiar with Psalms this would not be too much of a problem. It is well-researched, but may be off-putting for the layman with no idea of who Childs, Barth, Mowinckel, Westermann and others are. Grogan is aware of the history of Psalms scholarship, but has not overburdened the book with too much technical detail or heavy footnotes. I’m not sure that many people in the pews would be capable of digesting it, although it would certainly be of use to keen students and well-trained Lay Readers as well as clergy.
Grogan specifically talks about the Christian use of Psalms at the end of the book, but he usually includes some kind of contemporary application in each chapter (sometimes a bit trite and clichéd but often profound). He never forgets the New Testament; there are a great many comments about the continuity of the testaments, showing how specific texts or themes are taken up from the Psalms later on in the Bible.
Overall, this book is reminiscent of Robert Reymond’s biblical theology of Paul (Paul: Missionary Theologian) being pitched by the same publisher at the same kind of level. It interacts with all the latest research, distils it, and attempts to show the practical ministry implications. It’s great as an overview of the longest book in the Old Testament, of much help if such an overview was missing from one’s college training or if one is contemplating a sermon series on Psalms. Those who are more familiar with Psalms from years gone by will still find much stimulating material here, including a good outline of the “Psalms as a Book” approach which is popular among scholars at present.
This review was first published in Churchman 117.4 (2003).