Looking at Reception History of the Psalms through the Ages


My research looks at Jewish influences on (Christian) translations of the Psalms into English in the Middle Ages. To begin, I took a broad look at various reception histories of the Psalms: ancient Israelite, Karaite, rabbinic, early Christian, lay Christian, monastic Christian, and interfaith reception. The media of reception ranged from written texts (Masoretic Text, Qumran scrolls) to musical psalters to illuminated manuscripts to poetic interpretations to theological exegesis. My tour of the reception history gave me a number of fun glimpses of ongoing research on the Psalms, including modern attempts at understanding how the Psalms may have been sung in their ancient conception.*

Here are the books I flipped through for this preliminary research:

My main goals in taking this survey on the Psalms through the ages include:
1. Glean a general understanding of the arc of the history of the Psalms
2. Understand the state of current scholarship on the Psalms
3. See how much research has been done on my specific research topic
4. Find leads as starting points to look deeper into for my research

To my delight, I found that there has been a recent increase in scholarship on Psalms reception history, seemingly coming out of nowhere. At Oxford University, a gathering of scholars from all over the world has formed a community of sorts for such research.

Looking at my specific topic, I found some points of interest. The first English translations of the Psalms appear in the 9th C. Later, starting at the turn of the 11th C., medieval scholars became more and more interested in the literal meaning of Biblical texts, leading them to care for its original linguistic integrity. A number of medieval English scholars worked in Paris, where some interchanged knowledge with the Jewish community there. These interchanges often produced glosses–mostly in Latin–of the Psalms. Following the glosses came a resurgence of full translations of the Psalms into the English vernacular. A significant portion of these translators (many of them figures who planted the seeds of the Reformation) preferred to translate straight from the Hebrew.

In further research, I am thinking to look deeper into the interchanges between Anglo-Norman scholars and Jewish rabbis. I am also hoping to find some interfaith interchange that may have affected the earlier (9th-C.) translations, although I am not betting on the existence of such interchange. I will be speaking with my adviser this Thursday to decide on my direction from here on.

*David C. Mitchell, How Can We Sing the Lord’s Song?: Deciphering the Masoretic Cantillation explains modern efforts at understanding the actual musical implications of the Trope symbols that are found on the Masoretic Text’s copy of the Psalms.

Who am I???

Hi y’all!


My name is Ryan and I am a 4th year Mathematics major with a minor in Applied Math. I have background in the health sciences and do research in the Department of Anesthesiology in Emory SOM. Our research encompasses topics within neuroscience such as stroke, TBI, and novel therapies. I have an individual project which was spun off a novel idea a fellow PhD from our lab presented in her dissertation. I currently have one other undergraduate training under me who helps on my project.

What project???

Our project is investigating the efficacy of direct conversion therapy in juvenile rats post-traumatic brain injury (TBI). Essentially, it has been shown that a mixture of drugs can reprogram somatic cells in the brain into neuronal cells to assist in post-TBI recovery. I am using a specific transcription factor, NeuroD1, encased within a viral vector (lentivirus) which is injected into the post-ischemic area a few days after TBI is induced. We can observe supportive glial cells converting into neurons. This therapy is novel since it uses the host’s cells, thus reducing the emphasis of immuno-suppression. Furthermore, it appears to be relatively harmless and easily translated to other species. We can further improve our mechanism by finding a way to have NeuroD1 or a similar activator target specific types of cells within the local injury region.


This week, I have to do some surgeries inducing TBI on rats. I have some preliminary data but I need a higher n group number to have some conclusions regarding the highest rate of cell proliferation within the first two weeks following TBI. Thus, I can then determine the best time to inject the lentivirus. Once I do the surgeries, I will sacrifice the animals depending on the time point and study cell proliferation or migration via immunohistochemistry staining, microscopy, imaging, and cell counting. The data analysis will likely take me at least a month.

Where is my future???

I hope to attend medical school and become a pediatrician. I hope that one day I can be a leader in pediatric clinical trials studying TBI, since young children and adults have the highest rates of TBI. Much of the work I do now today, I hope becomes the same therapy methods I translate to human therapy within the next two decades.