Where is God in the Megilloth? Brittany N. Melton constructs a dialogue among Ruth, Esther, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs centred on this question, in an effort to settle the debate about whether God is present or absent in these books. Their juxtaposition in the Hebrew Bible highlights their shared theme of apparent divine absence, but, paradoxically, traces of God’s presence are unearthed as well.
By examining various aspects of this theme, including the literary absence of God, divine abandonment, God-talk, allusive language, God’s providence, and divine silence, it becomes clear that the ambiguity of divine presence and absence in the Megilloth presents a significant challenge to current conceptualizations of divine presence and absence in the Hebrew Bible.
Brittany N. Melton, Ph.D. (2017), University of Cambridge, is Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. She has published several book chapters, including “‘Oh, that I knew where I might find him’: Aspects of Divine Absence in Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes” in
Exploring Old Testament Wisdom (Apollos, 2016).
Table of contents
AcknowledgementsAbbreviationsIntroduction: Where is God in the Megilloth? The Complexity of Conceptualizing Divine Presence and Absence in the Hebrew Bible The Contribution of the Megilloth for Conceptualizing Divine Presence and Absence In Search of God in the Megilloth 1
The Controversy of Divine Presence and Absence Debating Divine Presence and Absence in the Hebrew Bible Debating Divine Presence and Absence in the Megilloth Summary 2
Five Books in Dialogue on Divine Presence and Absence Biblical Texts in Dialogue: A Literary-theological Approach Table Conversation: A Methodological Metaphor Discovering the Dialogue 3
Perceiving Divine Absence Literary Absence of God: A Dialogue between Song of Songs and Esther Divine Abandonment: A Dialogue between Lamentations and Ruth Summary of Divine Absence 4
Perceiving Divine Presence God-talk: A Dialogue among Ecclesiastes, Ruth, and Lamentations The Edenic Presence of God: A Dialogue between Lamentations and Song of Songs Summary of Divine Presence 5
Perceiving Divine Providence Miqreh in Retrospect: A Dialogue between Ruth and Ecclesiastes Divine-Human Action: A Dialogue between Ruth and Esther Summary of Divine Providence 6
Perceiving Divine Silence: A Dialogue among the Megilloth Differentiating Impressions of Divine Silence Comparing Incomprehensible Divine Silence in Ecclesiastes and Lamentations Summary of Divine Silence
Conclusion: The Ambiguity of Divine Presence and Absence in the Megilloth Implications Suggestions for Further Research
All interested in the theology of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible and divine presence and absence in the Bible, and especially anyone concerned with the Megilloth.