The Psalms as Re-typified Archetypes

One of my favorite professors, Dr. Dieudonné Tamfu, did his dissertation on the water imagery in the Psalms. This paragraph from his introduction fundamentally re-orientated the way I look at the entire book Psalms. I understood the Torah as forward looking, eschatological, anticipating the fulfillment of promises. I understand the Psalms also as forward looking, including specific prophetic promises that are fulfilled in the Messiah. I understood the Psalms to be backward looking (several Psalms specifically recounting the history of Israel)–but I hadn’t ever put all the pieces together quite like this.

One could accurately call these writers true biblical theologians in that they based their writing on the Scriptures and hoped for a future that derived its design from earlier Scripture. For the psalmists, the design of the present and the future was in the past. The Scriptures saturated them, and their Scripture-pervaded worldview overflowed in their use of the water imagery. Therefore, this dissertation pursues an inner-biblical investigation of the water motif in the Psalms and argues that the authors drew this motif primarily from the Scriptural accounts of creation, Eden, Flood, and the crossing of the Red Sea because they viewed these events as archetypes that were being re-typified in their days before they would be reenacted in the future.

The entirety the Psalter (really, the entirety of Israel, within which the Psalter was written) is forward pointing, and consciously takes it’s direction from the Torah: fully intentional, re-typified archetypes, all of them anticipating a future fulfillment.

(Photo by Victor Carvalho on Unsplash)

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