1. Lay out the full structure of shifting perspectives in Psalm 82. For each part, who is speaking, and who is addressed? Your full interpretation of the text must account for all of these elements.
2. What is the psalm’s sense of time? What is the time of the one speaking/praying? How does this time relate to the time of the divine speech quoted in the psalm? Is there a movement of time within the text itself?
3. Psalm 82 presents a mixed community that includes both divine and human members, even using explicit terms for both categories at different points in the text. How exactly would you describe each part of this mixed community, so far as each is visible in the short text? The divine part is more the focus than the human; why? Is there a change of status? Whether or not you see a change, what is the point of the statement about the gods dying in verse 7?
4. This whole text is about judgment, and every section relates in some way to this theme. What do you learn from each aspect of this motif? Notice that the final line asks God himself to “judge”; how does this fit the overall purpose of the psalm?
How would you characterize the entire purpose of the psalm? What would be the goal of reciting this prayer? The religious perspective of the psalm is unexpected, but you cannot treat its acceptance in the Bible as an accident. How do you account for the view of plural “gods” presented here? What is most difficult about this psalm, from your point of view – hardest to explain? It is easy to say the religion, but along with that, think about the way question of the prayer’s purpose; how would you provide an answer to the most difficult aspects of the poem? Why, in the end, is this text in the book of Psalms at all?
Your papers do not need to represent a list of answers to every detail offered in the above set of questions. This is intended as a framework to help you do your own interpretation. You do, however, need to address each of the four specific questions in some form, and you need to take on the core elements of the larger interpretation offered in the last part of your instructions.
Write a paper of 6 PAGES, double-spaced, normal margins and font (11- or 12-point accepted). There is no fixed structure for composing the paper, though you should treat the questions of detail before moving to the larger interpretation. It is important to begin by setting up the problem for me in a way that either anticipates your conclusions or lets me know something about your priorities and your method, so I understand the logic and structure of what you will go on to present as the main body of your paper.