Written By: Liz Ronk

For the special double-issue that came out on Dec. 25, 1964, LIFE devoted nearly 150 pages to The Bible and attempted to delineate the its enduring appeal for untold millions, while also grappling with its uncanny power.

“Our age has been haunted by theories of history,” LIFE noted in an introduction to the issue, “and by political theories that appeal to the verdict of history (the thousand-year Reich, the historical dialectic of Communism.)”

History seems to be the only irrational subject that modern rationalists revere. Man, who has deified everything else, now deifies his own history and wants a theory about it in which he can believe. The Bible contains a theory of history, the oldest and most durable of them all. But the faith of the Bible is not in history, it is in history’s God.

The last feature in that issue, titled simply, “In Praise of the Lord,” included color photos made in the Holy Land by Paul Schutzer, along with excerpts from the psalms — a book in the Bible in which, LIFE noted, “praise to the Creator . . . reaches a height of poetic utterance.”

Here, we offer some of Schutzer’s photos, both published and unpublished, as well as excerpts from the psalms ancient hymns to the silence that ran alongside the pictures: examples of how, 50 years ago, one media outlet chose to address the eternally thorny issue of faith.

Psalm 39

“Lord, make me to know mine end, / And the measure of my days, / what is is; that I may know how frail I am. / Behold, thou hast made my days as a handbreath . . . ” — Psalm 39

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Psalm 63

“When I remember thee upon my bed, / And meditate on thee in the night watches, / because thou hast been my help, / Therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice . . .” — Psalm 63

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Psalm 121

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, / From whence cometh my help . . .” —Psalm 121

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Photographed for a photo feature on the Book of Psalms.

Unpublished image from a story illustrating the Book of Psalms.

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Psalm 19

“The heavens declare the glory of God; / And the firmament showeth his handwork . . .” — Psalm 19

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Photographed for a photo feature on the Book of Psalms.

Unpublished image from a story illustrating the Book of Psalms.

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Psalm 11

The Psalms, illustrated by Photographs: “The Lord is in his holy temple, / The Lord’s throne is in heaven . . .” —Psalm 11

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Psalm 29

“The Lord breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. / He maketh them also to skip like a calf . . .” — Psalm 29

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Psalm 104

“The earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works . . .” — Psalm 104

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

Photographed for a photo feature on the Book of Psalms.

Unpublished image from a story illustrating the Book of Psalms.

Paul Schutzer The LIFE Picture Collection/Shutterstock

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