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Original Research

Reading Psalms, and other urban poems, in a fractured city

Stephanus de Beer

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 36, No 1 (2015), 8 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v36i1.1472

Submitted: 12 May 2015
Published:  09 December 2015


This article was an attempt to (re-)read Psalms in the context of fractured cities, marked by socio-economic inequalities, woundedness, migration and exclusion. It explored urban motifs in selected psalms and considered their possible meanings in relation to both the socio-cultural contexts in which they were written but also how they could be read and understood today. It proposed the Psalms as urban poetry, and considered poems of praise, lament and resistance. It brought the Psalms into conversation both with ‘remixed’ psalms and also with other urban poems. A ‘remix’ is a technical term usually associated with altering, adding or changing songs or music into a new version more appropriate or suitable for a new context. It is essentially a genre that emerged from within urban popular culture. Finally, I suggested that an understanding of the Psalms as urban poetry of praise, lament and resistance, in conversation with other urban poems, can serve as a resource to unshackle our faith from the temple, from one city, or from human institutions, evoking a daring new imagination for a new people, new city and new creation.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The article explores contextual readings of the Psalms as urban poetry, and retrieves other urban poems from different genres, both in order to inform urban theological discourse and contextual theological reflections on the fractured city.

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Author affiliations

Stephanus de Beer, Centre for Contextual Ministry, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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ISSN: 1609-9982 (print) | ISSN: 2074-7705 (online)

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