We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion


Revd John K. Maher

Contact Revd John K. Maher


The Psalter as Torah: A hermeneutic for the canonical reading of the Psalms based on Pss. 1, 19 and 119

The work will offer a mode of reading the Psalms as "torah", as a teaching vehicle. The research will centre around two poles:

Firstly, Psalms 1, 19 and 119 will be examined to see how they offer a hermeneutic for reading the Psalter. What is proposed in Ps 1, that the Just one should read this book in search of a path to blessedness, is developed in Ps 19 and is developed further in this very elaborate exaltation of Torah in Ps 119. These three Psalms, often classed as "Torah Psalms" are not simply milestones in the Psalter but offer one key to the reading of the Psalter as a form of worship and praise that seeks to teach the "just one" at the same time.

Another pole needs to be developed. Semantically, linguistically and thematically, the Psalter is in many ways in parallel with the Torah-Pentateuch. The study will also examine where these links are closest and how they may demonstrate both points of convergence but also strong differences in emphasis as the idea of the written texts are developed in Israel as a means of preserving traditions and teaching Wisdom to new generations.

Research Interests

I live and work in Paris. My background before theology was in literature and I am interested in the literary approach to the Scriptures and how the Scriptures in turn have had an effect on literature. I also study how, within different Christian and Jewish traditions, different approaches to reading and interpreting the Scriptures can be mutually enhancing rather than conflicting.

I belong to a Catholic contemplative tradition. I am very interested in how the Scriptures are the source and summit of that contemplation.


“The Answer of Job to God”, in PIBA No. 28, 2005.

Book Reviews in Irish Theological Quarterly and The Furrow.

Homily note for Scripture in Church and Intercom.

I translated the article by Vanhoye (The Reception in the Church of the Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum) which appeared in Granados, Jose et al: Opening Up the Scriptures—Joseph Ratzinger and the Foundations of Biblical Interpretation. Eerdmans (Ressourcement), 2008.

With Julie Kavanagh, I have co-edited Entrusted with the Word, a training programme for Lay Readers.

I have been editor of the Kildare and Leighlin Advent and Lent Scripture Sharing booklets for the past five years.

Imminent for publication is an article on suffering in the Old Testament, "When scorched by the Burning Bush", in a collection in honour of Fr Ragheed Ganni, martyred in Iraq in June 20008, which will be produced by the Pontifical Irish College, Rome, ed. Liam Bergin.