Bob MacDonald was born in Montreal, Canada in 1945. He was educated at Bishop’s College School in Lennoxville and at McGill University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics in 1967. Bob spent his working life in data processing, working first for IBM, then at the BC Systems Corporation, and then self-employed as a teacher of systems across North America. In 1984, he helped re-establish Anthony Macauley Associates, a software firm which over the last 30 years has been recognized in Canada and around the world as a provider of Financial Management and Performance Measurement software.
Bob has been a liturgical singer and cantor for over 50 years. It is both as musician and as software expert that he has approached the Hebrew Psalter. In Seeing the Psalter
, he used database techniques to reveal the inner workings of the recurring words in the Hebrew poetry. These patterns allow us to see into the construction of the poetry in a new way and to hear the ancient sounds of the poets in performance.
Bob began detailed work in 2006 immediately following the conference on the Epistle to the Hebrews at St Andrews, Scotland. After 4 years translating several books of the ancient writings (Psalms, Job, Lamentations, the Song, Qohelet, Ruth), using research materials from universities in Victoria and Ottawa, he spent an intense study period in 2010 first at the University of Oxford Psalms conference, thereafter at Cambridge as a reader in the University Library. His work was brought to its completion through a Community Sabbatical Fellowship at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria in 2011.
Bob is now reconstructing the ancient music of the Hebrew Bible as contained within the compact musical score in the Hebrew manuscripts of the te`amim
, a set of hand signals. Combined with the voices in the poetry which he has learned in detail over the last 7 years, he hopes to be able to hear the poets and to ponder the theology in their songs in a whole new way through their music.
Seeing the Psalter is a unique insight into the Psalms. These 150 poems are at the heart of the faith of Israel and of Christendom. No book of the Bible is more popular. Seeing the Psalter highlights and shows the patterns of repeated word usage in each poem and across the collections of poems. In this book, the Psalter is read and analyzed in sequence revealing a deliberate organization and a coherent message formed over centuries: how do we learn to rule in the midst of enemies?
Each poem is laid out in a very easy to read form. For the English reader, the translation is close and concordant, as far as that is possible. The concordance has been managed through a sophisticated database analysis of the glosses chosen. Seeing the Psalter includes a complete Hebrew-English and English-Hebrew glossary of all words used in the Psalter. The list of all uses of a Hebrew root in the Hebrew glossary enables an in-depth study of word usage. For the Hebrew reader, or for one who wants to learn Hebrew, the text is laid out in a form that enables memorization and the learning of the intricacies of translation. The poetry is phrase by phrase side by side with the English.
Each chapter shows in color the patterns of word recurrence in the poems. Many chapters show the close (or distant) relationships of poems with each other. As you study this work, you will find that all sorts of questions open themselves to you related to the history of the collections, the character of the faith, and the construction of the Psalter itself. A comprehensive index of Biblical references, names, and themes is included allowing you to find things easily in the text.
Each major section of Seeing the Psalter contains brief summaries outlining and highlighting inter-poem relationships and enabling the memorization of the whole. The Psalms are the dialogue between God and his people. It’s not a conversation one would want to miss. You will love this book and reading it will show you the love that is before all things.