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Lamentations and the Song of Songs

Article excerpt

Lamentations and the Song of Songs by Harvey Cox and Stephanie Paulsell Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible. Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 2012. 304 pp. $30.00 (cloth). ISBN 978-0-664-23302-0.

THESE COMMENTARIES ON the books of Lamentations and the Song of Songs are part of a series that invites professional theologians (rather than biblical scholars) to reflect on the theological importance of Scripture for the church today. Harvey Cox begins his commentary on Lamentations by linking the book to his own experiences of ruined cities as a way of introducing the book's relevance for the church today. Then, after a very quick overview of the historical setting of Lamentations and some of the book's literary features, Cox engages Lamentations around thematic issues identified from various passages in Lamentations. He offers 16 essays concerned with theological issues (God's absence, memory, and evil); ethical issues (rape, torture, exile, starvation and cannibalism, humiliation, and pornography and war); and what he calls interrogations - questions that linger after reading Lamentations (e.g., about vengeance or the significance of Jerusalem today).

Stephanie Paulsell's approach to the Song of Songs is more like a traditional commentary in that her discussion follows the text sequentially, giving considerable attention to the literary dynamics of the book. …