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BASA Rebwar Audish Basa

The Hallel, a Song of Love and Freedom. A Structural, Rhetorical and Theological Analysis of Pss 113-118 as a Canonical Unit

Mod.: Prof. R.P. Gianguerrino BARBIERO, S.D.B.

     The canonical exegesis firmly believes that the Psalter has a specific order and that it follows a certain progress of themes and thoughts which are interrelated. This fact opens many doors to interesting discussions and prospects which need more attentive studies.
This doctoral dissertation which applies the canonical approach focuses on a group of Psalms (113-118) which is traditionally known as a unit called “the Hallel” and is used in the major Jewish liturgical feasts. The dissertation examines the hypothesis that Pss 113-118 forms one canonical unit, with Ps 118 not only belonging to it but being also the climax of all the psalms of this group. A thorough investigation is offered for evaluating the unity of the Hallel and its function and message.

     In addition to the introduction and the conclusion, the dissertation is composed of seven chapters. The first six chapters are dedicated to the study of each psalm of the Hallel, according to this order: translation, textual criticism, an overview on the structure in general, the subdivision and a brief analysis of the different parts and strophes of a single psalm. Then, the connection of each psalm with the preceding one in the same group is considered.

     In the last chapter an evaluation of the unity of this group of psalms is offered together with its theological message. The study considers Ps 118 as a climax for the Hallel through indicating the points of contact, the correspondences of terms, the themes shared with the other psalms of the Hallel, and all the other aspects which emerge from a canonical reading of the text, thus justifying the position of Ps 118 as the climax of the Hallel, and pointing out some elements as part of a canonical exegesis of the Hallel. Until now, to our knowledge, there has been no monograph which applies the canonical approach on this group of psalms. Therefore, this research contributes to filling a lacuna.
     The research concludes first of all, with the affirmation that the psalms of the Hallel are not put together arbitrarily but with a very precise intention, deep significance and main theological message. Actually, beside the uniqueness of each psalm in it, the dissertation affirms the unity of this group and the flow and the development of its themes and ideas.
     So, the results of the research are in favour of the old and very long tradition which recognized Pss 113-118 as one unit, especially through reciting it on joyous religious feasts, mainly on the three biblical pilgrimage festivals: Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot.

In the conclusion of the dissertation, some important points regarding the unity of the Hallel are presented together with some significant characteristics of it..