Where is God in the Megilloth?

A Dialogue on the Ambiguity of Divine Presence and Absence

Series:

In 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.
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Biographical Note

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

Acknowledgements Abbreviations Introduction: 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 Bibliography Index

Readership

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.