The Drama of Spiritual Rehabilitation in Lamentations 1

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Scholars have long struggled to discern order or progression in the ideas and messages contained in Lam 1. There is consensus that the poem features two speakers: in verses 1-9b the narrator's voice alone is heard, while in verses 9c-22 the voice of Bat-Zion is dominant, although hardly exclusive. This study draws from the sociology of collective trauma. For sociologist Jeffrey Alexander, culture agents seek to create culture scripts to encourage traumatized communities to adopt a metanarrative of meaning about their trauma. I assume that Lamentations, and with it chapter 1, is written for a sixth-century Judean audience in crisis. It not only expresses pain but is constructive, didactic, and hortatory in nature. Drawing from narratological studies of the didactic voice in Psalms and Jeremiah, I read the narrator as a pastoral mentor, a constructed figure who stands in as the voice of the author. Through the agency of the pastoral mentor, the author nurtures a relationship of confidence building with his audience, through the constructed figure of Bat-Zion. The pastoral mentor seeks to guide Bat-Zion through nine progressive stages of theological awareness and rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-578
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Biblical Literature
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

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