Hard on the heels of Goldingay’s recent NICOT volume on Jeremiah comes this one on Lamentations. Who better to write on Lamentations than one who just finished a major work on Jeremiah? While not a sequel, the two works are natural companions. Fortunately, he didn’t run out of steam from exhaustion with the major labor that work on Jeremiah surely required. Perhaps the genre difference in Lamentations sparked his interest as he writes with obvious vigor.
When I reviewed the earlier Jeremiah work, I felt he was more overtly conservative or at least more sympathetic to such conclusions and that made it for me his best work to date. Perhaps he wouldn’t agree at all with my perceptions, but I have them nonetheless and continue to have in this Lamentations volume. If your view of Scripture is like mine, that will make this volume much more valuable to you.
Beyond his conclusions, questions of scholarly work and investigation can never be doubted in his work. No one would ever accuse him of laziness. He is at his best in addressing questions that interest scholars. Some of those questions are more esoteric to, say, pastors or general Bible students, but I feel that he has written more profitably for such audiences without sacrificing the scholarship that is his thing. Again, more so than some other works of his. I’m other words, the work isn’t dry.
While there isn’t a section called structure in the Introduction, he covers it effectively in “the unity and interrelationship of the poems” and following. Genre works into that discussion beautifully here and is likewise explained. Since Lamentations describes the devastation of 587 B.C., the historical background is straightforward yet well presented here. He wisely comes out for the MT though it is through something of a circuitous journey. The theology and thematic sections culminating in the questions of theodicy are rich. In fact, that is where the treasures of Lamentations lay for pastors and Bible students.
The commentary proper is on target. Take for example my favorite passage in Lamentations in chapter 3 where hope rises precisely where all looked lost. Amid the scholarship, he made me pause and thank my Lord for His steadfast love (Hesed). That’s striking the right balance in an exegetical work for sure. Another good one!
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