The Psalms' insights are remarkable, unexpected, eye-opening. They have vital things to say to us if we listen intently to the ancient wisdom, much of which has been lost to modern ears.
Using the insights of the "shape and shaping of the Psalms" work done by Psalms scholars over the past twenty-five years, James Chatham presents an inviting study for nonexperts to explore the interactions that various psalms have with one another. The book invites us to listen in on several psalm conversations, to realize how contemporary they are, and to join them. Chatham encourages us to immerse ourselves in the mind, heart, and world of the Psalms editor, to get to know those editors well, and to realize that their world was, in important ways, very much like ours. Through this process, the messages spoken by the Psalms editors emerge with words of faith about everyday issues in human living, both then and now.
James O. Chatham is the author of several books, including Creation to Revelation: A Brief Account of the Biblical Story. A retired Presbyterian pastor, he is currently teaching Bible courses in the Road Scholar Program and in the UNC-Asheville College for Seniors.
In this innovative volume Chatham brings different psalms-and sometimes other Old Testament passages-into conversation with one another to explore various aspects of the human experience. The result is a series of creative and rich canonical readings and meditations.
The Bible Today
For those of us who know and love the Psalms, James Chatham's book is a gift that offers new perspectives and new avenues for faithful appropriation. For those who don't know the Psalms, this book is a wonderful introduction! Chatham writes with a scholar's wisdom and a pastor's heart (he was a pastor for thirty-seven years), and he succeeds beautifully in showing how the psalmists speak to each other and to us in a way that we contemporary folk desperately need to hear. His exposition is clear; his many vignettes and stories are engaging; and each chapter's concluding "Discussion Topics and Questions" make this a perfect resource for adult education that aims at helping us realize that we are "accompanied always by God's great heart of love" (from the Preface).
Clint McCann, Evangelical Professor of Biblical Interpretation Eden Theological Seminary, Saint Louis, Missouri
A captivating book. Chatham is clearly an excellent preacher. He draws the reader in and leads us to discover ourselves in the psalms. Even those who have been praying the psalms for years will find new insights.
Irene Nowell, OSB, Author of Pleading, Cursing, Praising: Conversing with God through the Psalms
The book's title can be viewed as a triple entendre, with conversations being carried on not only among the psalms, but also between the author and his readers, and between the readers and the ancient psalms compilers. This book is recommended for all parish libraries and for readers who wish to gain a deeper understanding of the psalms as a whole and of their place in Hebrew history and in the full canonical text of the Bible.
Catholic Library World
This book is simply beautiful. James Chatham manages to weave together explanatory notes on each psalm and its context along with stories from his own years in ministry. What emerges is a beautiful tapestry that is not yet finished. It requires our own connections-connections that begin to emerge in our reading and then more specifically through skillfully spun questions at the close of each chapter. As a teacher often called upon to help adults pray with the psalms and understand their source and meaning, this book will now be in my supply kit. As a Christian who wrestles with the ways God acts in our world, this book will become a companion.
Catherine (Cackie) Upchurch, Little Rock Scripture Study director
The psalms have shaped the core of official Christian prayer for centuries, incorporated into the liturgy of the Word at the Eucharist and forming the content of the Church's daily morning and evening prayer. In this engaging and informative exploration of these great biblical prayers, James Chatham employs his skill as a scholar and a pastor to invite the lay reader to become part of the "conversation" within the book of the Psalms, allowing the dynamic and sometime turbulent prayers of the psalmist to touch our own hearts.
Donald Senior, CP, President Emeritus and Professor of New Testament at Catholic Theological Union
I read Psalm Conversations and felt like I was part of the discussion. The power of Jim's teachings transformed my faith. I recommend this book to anyone who is searching for understanding.
Rosemarie Mucci, PhD, University Supervisor at Baldwin Wallace University