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A Dialogic Theology of the Book of Lamentations
Daughter Zion Talks Back to the Prophets offers a new theological reading of the book of Lamentations by putting the female voice of chapters 1–2 into dialogue with the divine voice of prophetic texts in which God represents the people Israel as his wife and indicts them/her for being unfaithful to him. In Lam 1–2 we hear the “wife” talk back, and from her words we get an entirely different picture of the conflict showcased through this marriage metaphor. Mandolfo thus presents a feminist challenge to biblical hegemony and patriarchy and reconstrues biblical authority to contribute to the theological concerns of a postcolonial world.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www.sbl-site.org)

Abstract

Biblical scholars need to pay more attention to violent women as feminist subjects, and violence as a means of enabling women, rather than the disabling that has occurred through a politically and conceptually strategic commitment to their victimization. This paper explores the feminist erasure of Jael’s violence in Judges 4, and asks whether this violence might be appreciated as a vehicle of feminist empowerment. This erasure does biblical women a disservice by not taking their violence seriously as a signifier of their identity as women. How might violent biblical women model a kind of radical agency that feminists have typically shied away from? Dismissing these female characters as patriarchal patsies robs them of what might be their last recourse to self-expression. Rather than requiring justification, their violence might better be heralded as a fundamental qualifier of their femininity.

In: Biblical Interpretation
In: Horizons in Biblical Theology
Personal tragedy and communal catastrophe up to the present day are universal human experiences that call forth lament. Lament singers—from the most ancient civilizations to traditional oral poets to the biblical psalmists and poets of Lamentations to popular singers across the globe—have always raised the cry of human suffering, giving voice to the voiceless, illuminating injustice, or pleading for divine help. This volume gathers an international collection of essays on biblical lament and Lamentations, illuminating their genres, artistry, purposes, and significant place in the history and theologies of ancient Israel. It also explores lament across cultures, both those influenced by biblical traditions and those not, as the practices of composition, performance, and interpretation of life’s suffering continue to shed light on our knowledge of biblical lament.