Traditional scholarly commentaries aspire to open up biblical texts in the light of their ancient social and cultural contexts. In this commentary Robin Parry seeks to take the insights of such works seriously yet also move far beyond them by considering Lamentations within ever-expanding canonical and contemporary contexts. How do the words of Lamentations resonate when read in the context of Jeremiah? Or in the contexts of Isaiah 40-55, the New Testament, the history of Christian anti-Semitism, or the suffering of victims today?
The question at the heart of this unusual engagement with the text is -How can Lamentations function as Christian scripture?- Parry argues that the key to answering this question is to follow the ancient liturgical tradition of the church and to see the text in the light of the death and resurrection of Israel's Messiah -- Jesus. According to Parry, Lamentations is Israel's Holy Saturday literature -- the cries of those caught between the death of Jerusalem and its resurrection. In this context Christians are able to make connections between this anguished Israelite poetry, the sufferings of Jesus, and the sufferings of the world.
These biblical-theological links have the potential to open up fresh and imaginative theological, doxological, and pastoral encounters with a sadly neglected biblical book.
Robin A. Parry is Acquisitions Editor at Wipf and Stock.His books include Old Testament Story and ChristianEthics, Universal Salvation? The CurrentDebate, and Worshipping Trinity: Coming Back tothe Heart of Worship. For the latest thoughts fromParry, visit his blog, Theological Scribbles. -