The Psalms and the Life of Faith

By Walter Brueggemann; Patrick D. Miller | Go to book overview

4

The Formfulness of Grief

THE LAMENT PSALMS offer important resources for Christian faith and ministry, even though they have been largely purged from the life and liturgy of the church. Such purging attests to the alienation between the Bible and the church. This chapter will consider ways in which the lament psalms might be appropriated for the life and faith of the church.1


I

The literary rhetorical-form questions about the laments of Israel are fairly fixed and need no review here.2 The question of the setting in life, as we noted in chapter 1, is less clear. Since Hans Schmidt it is widely assumed that the lament form for the individual has an in

1. This chapter works out some implications of the previous chapter, "From Hurt
to Joy, from Death to Life." See also Claus Westermann, "The Role of the Lament
in the Theology of the Old Testament" (see chap. 1, n. 25).

2. See the summary statements of Hans-Joachim Kraus, Psalms 1–59 (Minneapo-
lis: Augsburg, 1988), and Claus Westermann, "The Structure and History of Lament
in the Old Testament" (see chap. 3, n. 2), 165–73. More specifically on the ele-
ments of the standard form see Westermann, "Structure and History," 170; Kraus,
Psalms 1–59, 48–49; and Erhard Gerstenberger, "The Psalms" (see chap. 1, n. 1),
200. The fullest discussion is that of Westermann, The Praise of God in the Psalms
(see chap 1, n. 4). The enumerations of elements differ in detail but agree in the
primary components.

-84-

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