Relating Prayer And Pain: Psychological Analysis And Lamentations Research -- By: Heath Aaron Thomas

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 61:2 (NA 2010)
Article: Relating Prayer And Pain: Psychological Analysis And Lamentations Research
Author: Heath Aaron Thomas


Relating Prayer And Pain:
Psychological Analysis And Lamentations Research

Heath Aaron Thomas

Summary

Psychological approaches to biblical texts have gained currency, particularly in lament literature. One notes, however, an increasing interest in the intersections between Lamentations and psychological analysis as well. Upon a survey of literature, one quickly realises no singular methodology prevails: scholars have applied to Lamentations the insights of Kübler-Ross’ grief process as well as the insights of John Archer, Yorick Spiegel, Sigmund Freud and the perspectives of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Whilst useful in identifying and assessing pain in the poetry, these approaches undervalue the crucial indicators of prayer in Lamentations. These indicators press research to the fecund field of the psychology of prayer. This essay exposes diverse applications of psychological approaches to the book, presents an analysis of both the benefits and limitations of this research and then relates prayer and pain in its poetry by exploring the connections between Lamentations and the psychology of prayer.

1. Introduction

Psychological approaches have gained currency in biblical studies in recent years, especially in the field of lament literature. And a good number have cropped up in Lamentations research.1 The volume of

psychological approaches employed in research is somewhat daunting. But common to them is a focus upon coping strategies for dealing with grief and trauma.

In view of the fragmentation and human pain set in portraiture in its poetry, it is understandable that Lamentations has attracted a good deal of attention from this angle. This five-chapter masterpiece of poetry reflects, and reflects upon, the limits of human suffering following the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC. The ‘exilic’ period that followed became a theological watershed, spurring religious thinking and development for those who would write in this era and after.2

Although previous psychological research on Lamentations explores indicators of grief and trauma at work in its poetry, it has not fully attended to its emphasis upon prayer. A variety of ‘speech-acts’ in the book coalesce in their directed-ness to the Deity in prayer (Lam. 1:20-22; 2:20-22; 3:42-66; 5:1-22).You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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