Lamentations by Berlin (OTL)

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Mark this volume by Adele Berlin down as one of my favorites in the Old Testament Library (OTL) series. In fact, it has some helpful information that I’m not used to seeing in this series. There’s still the critical viewpoint, yet that criticism is not as orienting in the work itself and is far more open to conservative theories than I would’ve expected.

The Introduction begins by describing some of the unique elements of the book before it dives into an explanation of the poetry of Lamentations. Berlin makes it clear that it’s some unique poetry that we have here. There’s also an excellent use of imagery throughout the Book of Lamentations. He has some sane thoughts on the speaking voices of the book as well. The section on gender and suffering is really not over-the-top in any way, but just acknowledges some of the feminine language used throughout Lamentations. There’s an excursus on the personified Zion, as well as one on the residents of Jerusalem with a sociological profile. The discussion of mourning as a religious concept added good things the discussion as did the theology of destruction and the exile. The explanation of the paradigm of purity was interesting and beyond anything I’d thought of before. There’s a section on the literary context with some helpful thoughts, though perhaps a little overemphasis on Mesopotamian influences. In the section on authorship, there’s a fairly conservative conclusion about dating and at least an acceptance that it’s theoretically possible that Jeremiah wrote it though she feels it could never be known. More than arguing date, she sees the larger question as why was the Book of Lamentations written in the first place.

The commentary proper shows outstanding scholarly work. We might learn more about the people of Judah than we do about God in this work, but this is an excellent addition to your commentary library. I warmly recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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