Protest Against God: The Eclipse of a Biblical Tradition
The Hebrew Bible contains many examples of protest or complaint against God. There are classic cases in the psalms of individual lament, but we find the same attitude in community complaint psalms, in the prophetic challenges to God, and in the Book of Job. And yet, after the exile, the complaint tradition was largely suppressed or marginalized. In this imaginative book, Morrow asks the unheard of question, Why? A shift in the religious imagination of early Judaism had taken place, he argues, spearheaded by the psychology of trauma and by international politics. A magnification of divine transcendence downgraded the intercessory role of the prophet, controlled the raw pain of exile (Lamentations, Second Isaiah), and led to intransigent refusal of the logic of lament (the friends and Yahweh in Job). The theology of complaint was eventually overshadowed by the piety of penitence and praise (the Dead Sea Scrolls). Modern readers of the Hebrew Bible are not obliged to assent to the loss of lament, nevertheless. Ours is an age when the potency of the biblical complaints against God is being newly appropriated. Although the transcendental imagination of Western culture itself is moving into eclipse, a heightened individual consciousness has emerged. There may still be life, therefore, in the ancient prayer pattern of arguing with God, which assumes that worshippers have rights with God as well as duties, that the Creator has obligations to the creation as well as prerogatives. This stylish intellectual history will be welcomed for its scope, its panache and its theological engagement.
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Albertz ancient Israel apotropaic argumentative prayer Axial Age Balentine Baruch book of Job Broyles chapter city-lament Claus Westermann community complaints community lament complaint prayer complaint psalms composition Confession of Trust contain context covenant mediator cultic Dead Sea Scrolls demonic distress DtrH enemy Esdras examples Exod Explicit Petition extra-biblical Second Temple Fortress Press Gebet genre Gerstenberger God-complaint Hebrew Bible Hermann Gunkel human Implied Petition Indirect Protest individual complaint individual lament informal lament Israelite Jeremiah Jerusalem Jewish Job's Judaism Klage lament psalms lament tradition Laytner liturgical Macc Mesopotamian monarchical period Moshe Greenberg motifs narrative national defeat Old Testament penitential prayer Pentateuch person poems poetry postexilic Praise and Lament pre-exilic prophetic protest prayer protests of national psalms of Indirect Psalms of Solomon Pseudo-Philo question Qumran Religion request rhetoric Second Isaiah Second Temple suffering texts theology tion tlie Walter Brueggemann we-complaint Yhwh Yhwh's