Grounded in the Body

A Bakhtinian Reading of Lamentations 2 from Another Perspective

In: Biblical Interpretation
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The personification of Jerusalem as female in Lamentations is often the entry point for interpretive engagements with the book. Although Daughter Zion metaphorically represents the physical city, the figure is most often interpreted as a poetic means of portraying the suffering and distress of the human inhabitants of the city. Descriptions throughout are dominated by images of human suffering and degradation, and the struggle to come to terms with the trauma of military defeat and destruction. The book is, in its essence, anthropocentric. Does this mean, however, that these poems are limited only to an anthropocentric reading? Drawing on Bakhtinian dialogics, this paper explores the possibility of reading Lamentations 2 from another perspective. Taking its cue from Lamentations’ opening image of the widowed city seated (on the earth?), the discussion explores the metonymic potential of reading the embodied language of the text as a site of engagement with the other-than-human world. Through an excess of seeing, Lamentations 2 is read alongside Jer. 4:5–31as a means of retrieving the voice of another (non-human Other) in the text.

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