'Whatever Is in Parenthesis We Do Not Include in Our Prayers'!?

The Problematic Nature of the 'Enemy Psalms' in Christian Reception

in European Judaism
Restricted access

Catholic prayer traditions always were very close to the whole book of Psalms. But when Second Vatican Council generated a process of reform within the Church, some thought it not appropriate for modern Christians to say prayers that sometimes resemble curses; so finally it was decided that in the Liturgy of the Hours some verses had to be omitted, or put in parenthesis. This criticism is not new; through the ages there have been various intents to cope with the problem, none of them very satisfactory. So this paper proposes five new tracks to understand the language and imagery of violence in the Psalms: their language is not so much descriptive, but poetic and metaphorical. The violence mentioned in the Psalms simply is part of our reality – and so it has to be part of our prayer. The questions 'who is speaking?' and 'whom are they speaking to?' reveal the perspective of the victims of violence as well as the strict theocentricity of the Psalms. And finally, the intention of these prayers is to limit or end violence, not to multiply it. Three modern 'Psalms' from twentieth and twenty-first century authors show that our modern times, too, need a powerful language to cope spiritually with various experiences of violence.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe