Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Talking back to God: Some implications of narrative biblical laments for human -divine relations and Christian worship
by Rickert, Kathryn Ann, Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2009, 270; 3356892
Abstract (Summary)

While the theological status of biblical laments—crying out in distress to God—is not uncontested, there is considerable evidence that laments play a substantive role in models of human-divine relations found in the Hebrew Bible. And within liturgical theology, it is widely acknowledged by many scholars that lamentation is one of the tasks of Christian worship. However, even with these considerable bodies of scholarship advocating public communal practices of Christian lament, such practice is very rare and is resisted from within the traditions by other theological and cultural forces. It is the perspective of this work that the continuing lack of liturgical lament is due in part to a gap between biblical and liturgical studies. Due to the understandable particularities of specialization and focus in each field, lament scholarship from one field or the other may not be mutually intelligible to the other field. This dissertation proposes a "bilingual", dialogical, biblical and liturgical, hearing of four narrative biblical laments for the purpose of constructing a liturgical theology of lament. From this bilingual hearing of the biblical texts, some observations of the characteristics and functions of laments will be made. These characteristics include: human willingness to acknowledge elements of risk and vulnerability in human-divine relations, sounds of distress which convey strong emotions and a sense that lament is transformative of human-divine relations as well as salvific and ethical. The difficulty of reconciling the nature and strength of ancient with postmodern emotions is acknowledged and addressed through a dialogical reading of biblical laments which identifies the theological functions of these powerful expressions as the intensification of human-divine relations. The quality of relations, human and divine, sustained by a practice of public communal lament is characterized by audacious human prayer/worship, and a dialogically formed image of the Holy One as amenable to human persuasion. The most strategic potential of public communal lament is the capacity to liturgically engage the tehom, the depth, including tragic human suffering and trauma, through witness, protest, crying out, arguing, and talking back to God. Lament thus enacts human-divine intimacy and formation for ethical compassion.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Amussen, Susan D.
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Biblical studies, Theology
Keywords: Biblical, Christian, Human-divine relations, Lament & liturgy, Lament & reconciliation, Laments, Narrative laments of HB, Strong emotions & Christian worship, Worship
Publication Number: 3356892
ISBN: 978-1-109-13119-2
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