Last night, the Armenian Prelacy concluded its 6-part Lenten Bible Study Program on Exploring the Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, conducted by Archdeacon Shant Kazanjian, Director of Christian Education at the Eastern Prelacy. The program was held on Wednesdays of Great Lent, from February 17 to March 24, 8:00-9:00 pm, via Zoom. Optionally, 9:00-10:00 pm was exclusively devoted to Q & A. Over eighty people participated.
Dn. Shant discussed different types of psalms, including praise/thanksgiving, lament/petition, royal, wisdom, and penitential psalms. He highlighted some distinctive poetic features of the psalms. He examined several key recurring Hebrew words and showed how they have been translated into classical Armenian following the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), words such as merciful (voghormadz), gracious/compassionate (ktadz), and abounding in steadfast love (pazoomoghorm)—words that describe the attributes of God, which are used frequently in the Armenian Church prayers and services. He also reflected on what to do with imprecatory psalms, petitions directed against one’s enemies.
Dn. Shant pointed out that there are two ways that we can use the psalms in our personal prayer life, both systems are based on the Armenian Apostolic tradition: 1) read the psalms continuously—start with Psalm 1 and move through the entire Psalter consecutively, reading one or two or more psalms every day, 2) read the psalms that the Armenian Church reads during the seven daily cycle of services, psalms that are fixed to a particular time and service of the day (a list was provided to the participants).
The Psalter is a school of prayer. Anyone who is interested in scriptural prayers and praying according to the Scripture must become a student of the Book of Psalms (Saghmosakeerk), for it is the prayer book of the Bible, the first prayer book of the Church.