Friday, February 8, 2013

Reflections on the Psalms

In his 1958 publication Reflections on the Psalms, C.S. Lewis begins with a mirthful statement (although he did not intend it so). He states "This is not a work of scholarship ... I write as one amateur to another." Those who have read any of Lewis' apologetic works will no doubt appreciate his logical and cunning mien, his depth of thought, and his reasoned approach. This man is no more an amateur than I am Albert Einstein. He makes clear right from the start that this is not a book that was designed to provide an in-depth analysis of the Old Testament book of Psalms. He merely wanted to discuss some of the things that he thought about and considered as he read, things that he noted or that troubled him. He states "It may appear to some that I have used the Psalms as pegs on which to hang a series of miscellaneous essays." Then he takes us on a thematic and stylistic journey through this ancient collection of poems and lyrics.

I will say that this book is a very typical Lewis work in that it is not meant to be light, casual reading. I dare say that approached in this manner, one might not glean "the treasure in the stone" as a sculptor might say. Yet it is quite elucidating in its approach. He does not step us through an analysis of the meanings or intents of the individual Psalms. Instead he touches on elements both dark and light in these works, and how he believes that they should be approached. He lends some very adroit analysis to some apparent Pagan (i.e. non-Christian or non-Godly) themes common to the Psalms. He bounds through the surface veneer that likely will be commonly seen by readers of these verses to give additional insight based on the context of the authors. For those who appreciate Lewis and have not read this one, I recommend it.