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Lamentations Through the Centuries

ISBN: 978-1-118-33264-1
232 pages
March 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
Lamentations Through the Centuries (1118332644) cover image


Covering a rich landscape of literary, theological and cultural creativity, the authors explore the astonishing variety of interpretations inspired by Lamentations, one of the shortest books in the Bible.
  • Features a wealth of reactions – covering two and a half millennia – to this ancient text's influential and unflinching account of the devastation wreaked by war
  • Explores a kaleidoscope of examples ranging from the Dead Sea Scrolls; Yehudah Halevy; John Calvin; and composer, Thomas Tallis; through to the startling interpretations of Marc Chagall; contemporary novelist, Cynthia Ozick; and Zimbabwean junk sculpture
  • Deploys "reception exegesis", a new genre of commentary that creatively blends reception history and biblical exegesis
  • Offers sensitive treatment of challenging theological and psychological responses to one of the most disturbing books of the Hebrew Bible
  • Widely relevant, with nuanced reflections – both religious and secular – on human suffering and the disasters of war
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Table of Contents

Series Editors’ Preface viii

Abbreviations x

List of Figures xii

Introduction 1


Afterword 193

Bibliography 196

Author Index 206

Subject Index 209

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Author Information

Paul M. Joyce holds the Samuel Davidson Chair in Old Testament/ Hebrew Bible at King's College London. He is the author of Ezekiel: A Commentary (2007), and Divine Initiative and Human Response in Ezekiel (1989), and is co-editor of After Ezekiel: Essays on the Reception of a Difficult Prophet (with Andrew Mein, 2011), and Crossing the Boundaries: Essays in Biblical Interpretation in Honour of Michael D.Goulder (with Stanley E. Porter and David E. Orton, 1994).

Diana Lipton teaches at Tel Aviv University, Israel, and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rothberg International School. She has been a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, as well as Reader in Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at King’s College London. She is the author of Revisions of the Night: Politics and Promises in the Patriarchal Dreams of Genesis (1999) and Longing for Egypt and Other Unexpected Biblical Tales (2008), and is co-editor of Feminism and Theology (with Janet Martin Soskice, 2003) and Studies on the Text and Versions of the Hebrew Bible in Honour of Robert Gordon (with Geoffrey Kahn, 2011).

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“I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is informative, thought-provoking, and –despite being a commentary – holds the reader’s attention. It made me appreciateLamentations in a new way. To be recommended.”  (The Swedish Exegetical Yearbook 2014, 1 October 2014)


“In this engrossing investigation of Lamentations --a splendid addition to the Wiley-Blackwell commentary series-- Paul Joyce and Diana Lipton draw on a fascinating array of visual, literary, musical, scholarly, religious and secular responses […] an indispensable resource for scholars and students of the book of Lamentations, for those interested in the manifold ways it has been interpreted and appropriated, and for anyone curious about reception history in general and what it can teach us.”—J. Cheryl Exum, University of Sheffield

“Mourning the physical Jerusalem is the business of the biblical Lamentations. Showing us how this is done in the book and in its reception history, over the ages, is the business of the present volume. The volume's value as guide through mourning is greatly enhanced by its inception as a Jewish-Christian authorly cooperation. Jerusalem the symbolical is thus well served; and we, the readers, those who nurture our own Jerusalems, gain a guide to mourning—as much necessary, perhaps, as any guide for joy.”—Athalya Brenner, Universiteit van Amsterdam

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