2021 Catholic Media Association Award second place award in academic studies
In this close reading of Psalms 90-150, Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford discovers meanings in the Psalms that were "there all along" but hidden beneath layers of interpretation built up over the centuries. Approaching the canonical storyline of the Psalter with feminist-critical lenses, she reads against the dominant mind-set, refuses to accept the givens, and seeks to uncover a hidden/alternate/parallel set of societal norms. DeClaissé-Walford attends to how context affects the way hearers appropriate the Psalter's words: women, for the most part, hear differently than men; women of privilege differently than women living in poverty. Her interchanges with students and scholars in post-apartheid South Africa bring the biblical text alive in new ways for today's believers.
Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford is the Carolyn Ward Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta, Georgia. She holds a PhD in biblical studies from Baylor University and is the author of several articles and books on the Psalms. DeClaissé-Walford is an active participant in and part of the steering committee of the Book of Psalms Section of the Society of Biblical Literature and is also the Old Testament editor for the Word Biblical Commentary series.
“This is an exciting Psalm commentary, which resounds, like the Psalter, a symphony of diverse singers, melodies and themes. With laudable, positive portrayals and allusions to women the book of Psalms comprises faith experiences reflecting on all humanity in its diversity. In alignment with this biblical book’s content, this volume also promotes the advancement of dignity, equality and justice. With various aspects of wisdom, the commentary attempts to enhance the fullness of well-being of all psalm singers in all places in our time.
“The proof of the pudding is in its eating. The reader of this commentary, whether scholar, pastor, student, lay women and men, or ordinary believer will find joy in its verbal music. Every page creates a joyful reading experience. Congratulations to Nancy deClaissé-Walford and all her ‘supporting voices’ for this extraordinary book.”
Dirk J. Human, Professor and Head of Department: Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, South Africa
“The commentary convincingly shows, that numerous psalms in book 4 and 5 refer to wisdom traditions and thus allude to Woman Wisdom as a counselor, offering wise words or instructions. With such a careful and yet creative study of the texts, the commentary reveals and presents a rich female tradition evoked by these psalms. In general, the commentary is a successful mixture of scientific exegetical writing and comprehensive language. I have enjoyed reading this commentary because it offers new and innovative insights to the psalms in books 4 and 5. I can highly recommend this commentary to all readers interested in the Psalms.”
Susanne Gillmayr-Bucher, Professor of Biblical Studies, Catholic Private University of Linz, Austria
“deClaissé-Walford’s commentary opens my white, male eyes to see new possibilities of interpretation, whether it is discerning Wisdom’s words in Psalm 119 or finding God writhing in childbirth in Psalm 90. But beyond finding the feminine in these ancient patriarchal texts, deClaissé-Walford engages other voices for insight, including those of South African women who personally testify to the hope these psalms provide in the midst of systemic violence and economic inequity. Her commentary is more than a commentary; it is a testimonial. Like Jacob wrestling at the Jabbok, deClaissé-Walford wrestles with these psalms to seek a blessing for all her readers.”
William P. Brown, William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary
“Nancy deClaissé-Walford is one of the leading Psalms scholars in the world today, and her extensive knowledge and interpretive insights are on full display in this very impressive volume. In addition to her own work, she has regularly included feminist voices from South Africa. She and her collaborators make it eminently clear that feminist commentary on the Psalms involves much more than identifying female references and feminine images for God. Rather, the Psalms are ‘Words for All People,’ including women. I especially appreciate the way that the Psalms are constantly put in conversation with pressing societal issues, ones that generally have a particularly problematic impact on women—racial and gender discrimination, systemic injustice, domestic abuse, income inequality, ecological threat, and more. deClaissé-Walford demonstrates again and again that the Psalms continue to instruct and inspire movement toward a world where peace and justice prevail for the benefit of all.”
J. Clinton McCann, Jr., Eden Theological Seminary, Webster Groves, Missouri