Archive for February 16th, 2008

Eugene Peterson in his book Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, makes an interesting observation about the fact that Lamentations is written in the form of an acrostic poem. Peterson observes that the acrostic form (as it goes through the Hebrew alphabet) both organizes and puts limits upon grief and suffering:

“In such ways does the acrostic function: it organizes grief, patiently going over the ground, step by step, insisting on the significance of each detail of suffering. . . . Arranged in the acrostic structure the suffering no longer obsesses, no longer controls. . . it makes certain that nothing is left out, but it also, just as certainly, puts limits upon the repetitions. If there is a beginning to evil, there is also an end to it.” (p. 122)

The form of Jeremiah’s lament shows “a pastoral style.” There is full sympathy for the terrible suffering being endured and yet, the structure insists upon a termination to the time of grief. It reminds us that sorrow and suffering are not endless: (more…)

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