I’ve been reading an old(er) book lately: Israel’s Sacred Songs: A Study of Dominant Themes by Harvey H. Guthrie (1966). I picked it up at a second hand bookstore when I noticed that Brueggemann wrote a blurb on the back cover. The book tries to situate the Psalms in their ANE culture.
Here’s something that made me think. Guess which one of these quotes is from our Psalms, and which one is a pagan prayer from Babylon:
To thee have I prayed; forgive my debt.
Forgive my sin, my iniquity, my shameful deeds, and my offence.
Overlook my shameful deeds; accept my prayer;
Loosen my fetters; secure my deliverance;
Guide my steps aright, radiantly like a hero let me enter the streets with the living.
Do you, you gods, ever really decree what is right?
Do you direct mortal men uprightly?
No! With wicked hearts do you ordain what is to happen on earth;
Your power lets violence come easily.
It just goes to show that nothing is written in a vacuum.