The Psalter

The Psalter—Visual Grid and Performative Rhythm for Data

Ursula Kundert

deptii_kundert_page.jpg

Notker III, Old High German Translation and Commentary of the psalms: Here Ps 38/39 and 39/40. St. Gallen, Stiftsbibliothek, csg 21, p. 133 (Einsiedeln 12th c.). Source: http://www.cesg.unifr.ch/cesg-cgi/kleioc/g0010/exec/ pagesmaframe/"csg-0021_001.jpg"/segment/"body" on 1st November 2008.

This project aimed at understanding the ways in which the Psalter helped in the Middle Ages to organise dispersed data into a meaningful frame. The enquiry started from the theoretically-founded hypothesis that the Psalter of the Middle Ages is a symbolic form which governs the keeping, combination, and actualization of data. The sheer number of Psalters passed down to us indicates the scale of the phenomenon. While thousands of Latin Psalters have been preserved, several hundred vernacular versions in all European languages still exist. The relationship between Latin and vernacular versions seems especially relevant for analyzing the scope of this symbolic form. The project thus studied the phenomenon with the key example of the relationship between Latin and German Psalters from the tenth to the seventeenth century, covering thereby a time of important changes in the history of science: from monasticism, through scholasticism, to the beginnings of modern science.

Funding Institutions

Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin