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136 SHOFAR Spring 2000 Vol. 18, No.3 tion of Alt's model (without the infiltration) in the light of the modem idea of intrasocietal evolution. His insistence on most of the "Proto-Israelites" having originally been nomads, on regional differences, and on the importance ofthe archaeological side of the problem is gratifying. This is an approach to emulate! The volume is enhanced by 40 illustrations (ground plans, pottery drawings, tables), eleven sketch maps, a large bibliography, and indices of terms and names, toponyms and scriptural passages. Leaving aside some weak points in the handling ofEgyptological matters and in the transcription of Arab place-names, the book can be read as a handbook of the Negev in the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages and as a thorough treatment ofthe settlement of"Proto-Israelite" groups in this marginal region ofancient Palestine. Manfred Weippert Theological Faculty University of Heidelberg (Germany) Faces of a Lamenting City: The Development and Coherence of the Book of Lamentations, by Jannie Hunter. Beitrage zur Erforschung des Alten Testaments und des Antiken Judentums, 39. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1996. 155 pp. $35.95. Over the last decade or so, a renewed interest in Lamentations has come to light in a considerable number of studies which attempt to identify the literary coherence ofthe book and to locate its outlook within the streams oftradition prevalent in late monarchic and exilic Israel. Aside from a widely agreed focus on the linguistic and stylistic features ofLamentations, there has been no consensus on how the book developed and what precisely it means to say. Hunter's study falls within this earnest company, offering some insightful details but scarcely unlocking the book in any innovative way. The basic thesis ofHunter is that Lamentations 1: I-II, cast in a descriptive mode, sets forth all the fundamental themes that, in contrasting lament and prayer modes, are taken up and elaborated in the remaining poems ofthe collection. The heart ofhis study is an intertextual reading showing how words and themes in I: 1-11 are "dispersed" throughout the poems. So pervasive are these links across the whole collection that Hunter posits a group of closely knit writers working off 1: 1-11 as the template for all the poems. The reader can see these major intertextual connections at a glance by consulting the table on p. 134. It is not surprising that the opening section of a collection might set forth many, if not all, of the leading ideas of the whole. Some of the intertextuallinks identified by Hunter are clear enough, but many involve semantic variations and transformations that suggest arbitrariness in grouping them as thematically akin. It does not appear proven that authors of the rest of Lamentations were closely following 1: 1-11 for their Book Reviews 137 repertoire of stock words and themes. Also, Hunter does not offer a plausible explanation for why 1: I-II should be regarded as "a core proposal poem," when it is embedded as the first half of a larger acrostic poem. Indeed, on Hunter's evidence, it seems just as plausible that chapter I could have been written last as a summarizing introduction to the assembled poems. And ifthese opening verses are a template for the whole collection, the theme of hope or trust in Yahweh, which emerges at later points, is at best no more than hinted at in the terse appeal, "0 Yahweh, behold my affliction!" (l:9,cf.ll). As for the thought-world ofLamentations, he does not see it as closely aligned with any ofthe other current traditional "theologies." The authors operate with awareness of deuteronomistic theology, the tradition of Zion's inviolability, at least certain of the Psalms, and the radicaljudgment speech ofprophecy. However, they are so "thrown off balance" by the catastrophe they lament that they do not really have any master theological scheme or concept to propose. The one possible affinity Hunter does not' seem to mention is wisdom tradition, which in its doubting mode is similarly often at a loss for theological answers to life's injustices. Hunter's assignment ofLamentations to a limbo beyond any single theological system accords with this reviewer's most recent...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 136-137
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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