This paper investigates four elements such as structure, genre, setting, and intention of Psalm 78 by utilizing recent form criticism which begins with an analysis of structure on the final texts. For this I investigated its structure and language, words and syntax, and its content with an idea of recent form criticism which explores texts synchronically and diachronically.
First, the structure of Psalm 78 is divided into three parts, introduc- tion(vv. 1-8), God's grace and sins of the ancestors of Ephraim(vv. 9-58), and conclusion(vv. 59-72). In particular, the final editor/writer repeats two opposed ideas such as God's grace and sins of the ancestors of Ephraim in vv. 9-58 to emphasize that God did not choose the tribe of Ephraim but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, and his servant David. In addition, he seems to have inserted v. 9 into the place between verses 8 and 10. In particular, ם־י(the sons of Ephraim) in v. 9 plays an important role in indicating that those who rebelled against God in the wilderness after exodus are not all the Israelites but the ancestors of Ephraim.
Second, Psalm 78 includes several genres such as wisdom, history, legend, hymn, and prophetic warning. Although the psalm have several genres, however, it begins with the form of wisdom poetry, and the speaker of the psalm says that his purpose is to give his instruction to his people (v. 1). Accordingly, the overarching genre of Psalm 78 is a wisdom poem, and the genres such as history, legend, hymn, prophetic warning belong to subordinate genres.
Third, it is difficult to decide the setting of Psalm 78, because the psalm includes many ancient traditions such as the exodus tradition, the wilderness tradition, the Zion tradition, and the David tradition. Furthermore, the psalm does not mention any specific date and setting. Nevertheless, Psalm 78 gives us a clue for deciding its date and setting as showing that God chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, and his servant David but he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. The election of the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, and David is a main idea of Psalm 78. Accordingly, this accentuation can be related to a very heightened feud between the Jerusalem community and the Samaritan community which began after the marriage of Manasseh to Sanballat's daughter. In sum, its final form is the product of 4th or 3rd century redaction.
Fourth, in this context, it is highly likely that the final editor/writer wanted to emphasize that Jerusalem community is the only legitimate community.
In sum, investigation of these four elements by utilizing recent form criticism gives us deeper understanding of Psalm 78. Furthermore, it may show us the importance of the analysis of content and structure on final text, in that their thorough analysis provides a different setting and intention.