Not being content with God : contestation and contradiction in communities under duress

Claassens, L. Juliana M. (2017)

CITATION: Claassens, L. J. 2017. Not being content with God : contestation and contradiction in communities under duress. Old Testament Essays, 30(3):609-629, doi:10.17159/2312-3621/2017/v30n3a5.

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Drawing on recent insights from trauma hermeneutics, this article sets out to investigate the sharply divergent divine metaphors used by Jeremiah while being in prison (Jer 20). In this text, one finds Jeremiah saying in so many words that he hates God; that God had violatedhim (Jer 20:7). However, in the same breath, he also confesses God to be the Liberator-Warrior God who delivers the needy from the hands of evildoers (Jer 20:11, 13). These divine metaphors that are rooted in contestation and contradiction reflect the deep-seated paradox of faith experienced by the prophet that quite likely also manifested in the people during the time of the Babylonian invasion and exile. In addition, this article explores the dramatic (re)descrip-tions of God in Jer 20 that supplement and challenge the more traditional ways of speaking about God with equally contentious and contradictory images for God that emerged in communities experiencing severe trauma such as during the Holocaust as well as the forced removals during the Apartheid era in South Africa. I propose that new images for God that are marked by contradiction serve as a vital means to challenge traditional, often simplistic understandings of God in the name of God that is essential if God is going to survive together with the people.

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