"Derek Olsen's conversational approach belies a serious scholarly study of one of the great figures of Western monasticism. He introduces us to Cassiodorus's seminal commentary on the Psalter by narrating the earlier influences on his thinking, his strategies for interpreting the psalms, and his legacy in art, music, and glossed psalters. By presenting history as story, Olsen enables his readers, whether familiar with Cassiodorus or not, to encounter this great scholar in fresh and memorable ways."
Sue Gillingham, Professor of the Hebrew Bible, University of Oxford
"This authoritative study of Cassiodorus's Explanation of the Psalms is an engaging and scholarly guide to one of the most influential works in the medieval church. As well as being a thorough and very readable exploration of Cassiodorus's important book, The Honey of Souls takes the reader on a captivating journey through the intellectual world of late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, tracing the transmission of knowledge and learning and demonstrating with great skill the centrality of the Psalms to the life and worship of the early medieval church. In this book, Derek Olsen provides a fascinating insight into a rich, profound, and now largely unfamiliar way of reading the Psalms, one that reveals the unexpected layers of meaning upon meaning to be found within these well-loved texts."
Eleanor Parker, Brasenose College, University of Oxford
"Olsen has produced an important study, one that belongs in every academic library. Highly recommended."
Catholic Library World
"This engaging book draws the reader in to the world of psalm interpretation that reflects the experience of Christians in Late Antiquity, when the reception of Scripture, and especially of the Psalms, was conditioned by oral tradition, liturgical performance, and prayer. The commentator comes alive in Olsen's account, which folds the salient details of translation, symbolism, historical context, and transmission into a seamless narrative. His analysis of Cassiodorus's contributions is enriching for specialists and informative for less expert readers."
Susan Leslie Boynton, Professor of Music, Historic Musicology, Columbia University
"Olsen examines how the Psalter functioned not only as liturgical prayer, but as a pedagogical resource, a rhetorical model, and a part of the material culture in religious communities. Though Olsen's work may be read out of pure intellectual interest, his examination of time and culture that is in many ways very different from ours, gives an occasion for a deeper reflection on the forces and habits that form - and that we hope will form - the life of Christian communities today."
The Living Church