Reflecting on Lamentations 5

We are studying Lamentations 5, the concluding poem in the book of Lamentations, for Sunday, April 25. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to consider, and perhaps discuss, as we study this text:
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How do we ourselves read the text? For instance, do we read it as an experience we feel close to, or distant from? Do we feel we “enter the human experience” of the text, or do we seem to remain outside it? What part or parts of the text do we notice, pay attention to, think about? What responses do we notice in ourselves as we read the text?

As we notice our own response to the text, what thoughts and feelings do we have?

Would we say we read the text “with love”? Why, or why not?

[More imaginative, but then again, also theological] If God were reading the text with us, how do we suppose that reading would be similar to ours? Or, different from ours? What do we notice about that?
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We probably remember, from the reading and studying we’ve done of the prophetic literature, including reading and studying we’ve done in this class over the years, that the prophets had addressed dire warnings to the people of Judah for a long time: change your practices, stop what you’re doing, or else.

[The prophets to the southern kingdom included the majors first Isaiah and Jeremiah, and the minors Joel, Micah, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. Glancing back at some of that material is sobering.]

What effect does knowing this have on our reading of Lamentations? Why does it have that effect for us, do we think? [We might ask ourselves: what other effect could it possibly have?]

How would we describe our own attitude towards the author and subjects of Lamentations?

[More personal] What does that attitude tell us about ourselves?

[A lot more personal, and possibly difficult] Do we notice any assumptions informing that attitude – for instance, assumptions we ourselves make about people, the world and how it works, justice, love, God, etc.?

Who shares those assumptions with us – for instance, in our class, or in the world? Who does not? Where do those differences and similarities seem to come from?

Are our assumptions correct, do we think? How do we know that – that is, what do we rely on to support our assumptions here? Does anything make us wonder about that?
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The last verse in the chapter is translated in different ways by different translators. Some translations are more declarative: “you have utterly rejected us.” Others are more tentative, like the NRSV: “unless you have utterly rejected us.”

Do these two ways of translating the last verse make a difference, do we think? What difference?
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two young women conversing over a picket fence

Image: “Conversation,” Camille Pissaro, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

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