From time-bound to timeless : the rhetoric of lamentations and its appropriation

Giffone, Benjamin D. (2012-03)

Thesis (MTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2012.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study postulates a unifying rhetorical function for the book of Lamentations during the Persian period. After the destruction of the temple in 587 BCE, the people of Judah were geographically scattered and religiously and culturally fragmented. Lamentations, with its ahistorical, timeless character, its acrostic form, its posture of protest, and its totalizing references to all the different classes and groups of Judahites, became a rallying point for Jews seeking restoration after the exile, as well as a perpetual reflection on YHWH’s role in human suffering for oppressed Jews in many places and at many times through history. The historical component of this study seeks to establish the fragmentation of Judah and the goals of the various Judahite groups during the Persian period. The literary component attempts to demonstrate Lamentations’ suitability as a portable, timeless expression of suffering before YHWH, and as a source of imagery and motivation for Jewish restoration hopes. This study contributes to the understanding of the formation of Jewish identity, which since the destruction of the first temple has been shaped by minority status in nearly every cultural context, and by the evolution of a portable, textual religion. This study concludes that the preservation of the book of Lamentations was both a reflection of and a contribution to these two aspects of Jewish identity. This study also contributes to the interpretation of Lamentations—and the genre of communal lament—as literature and liturgy. It also explores the possibility of literary connections between Lamentations, Isaiah 40-55, and the genre of penitential prayers.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie postuleer ‘n verenigende retoriese funksie vir die boek Klaagliedere gedurende die Persiese periode. Na die vernietiging van die tempel in 587 vC was die inwoners van Juda geografies versprei en godsdienstig en kultureel gefragmenteer. Klaagliedere se ahistoriese en tydlose karakter, die akrostiese vorm, die geneentheid tot protes, en die totaliserende verwysings na al die verskillende klasse en groepe van Judeërs, het ‘n aanhakpunt geword vir Jode wat heropbou na die ballingskap nagestreef het, asook vir die voortgaande nadenke by onderdrukte Jode in baie plekke en tye deur die geskiedenis, oor Jahwe se rol in menslike lyding. Die historiese komponent van hierdie studie probeer die fragmentering van Juda gedurende die Persiese periode vasstel, asook die doelwitte van die verskillende groepe in Juda. Die literêre komponent poog om te illustreer dat Klaagliedere uitermate geskik was as oordraagbare, tydlose uitdrukking van lyding voor Jahwe, en dat dit ‘n bron van verbeelding en motivering vir die Joodse heropbou-hoop was. Die studie dra by tot die verstaan van die vorming van Joodse identiteit wat sedert die vernietiging van die eerste tempel sterk beïnvloed is deur hul minderheidstatus in byna elke kulturele konteks, maar ook deur die ontwikkeling van ‘n oordraagbare, tekstuele godsdiens. Hierdie studie kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat die bewaring van die boek Klaagliedere beide ‘n nadenke oor en ‘n bydrae tot hierdie twee aspekte van Joodse identiteit was. Die studie maak ook ‘n bydrae tot die interpretasie van Klaagliedere—asook die genre van gemeenskaplike klag—as literatuur en liturgie. Dit ondersoek ook die moontlike literêre verhoudings tussen Klaagliedere, Jesaja 40-55 en die genre van boetepsalms.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20205
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