Visual exegesis of praise and lament in the psalms of individual lament.

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For most of the twentieth century, the majority of Psalms scholarship has understood the change in mood in lament psalms, or Stimmungsumschwung, to be the result of an oracle of salvation of some sort. The result of this explanation for the Stimmungsumschwung was a “certainty of hearing” for the one participating in the cultic function tied to the respective psalm. Perhaps one of the most long-lasting developments of reading the Psalms in this way is Claus Westermann’s argument for the two primary genres of lament and praise with lament transitioning to praise at both the individual and book level. While many still hold Westermann’s view to be orthodox, several recent scholars have begun to doubt strongly the existence of the oracle of salvation and the resulting certainty of hearing. These recent studies rightly question the existence of an oracle of salvation and the resulting certainty of hearing, yet they still work within the conceptual confines of previous studies that see the laments necessarily transitioning from lament to trust (Janowski) or reading lament as an act of trust (Rechberger, Markschies, Weber). These readings do little to account adequately for the juxtaposition of the two poetic modes of lament and praise so prominent with the Psalter and offer only theologically positivistic approaches to the laments. In light of eroding support for the oracle of salvation and the recognition of structures within the psalms of individual laments that do not necessitate a simplistic or linear transition from lament to praise, I propose a reading of the individual laments that finds meaning in the tension between the two poetic modes. In this dissertation, I will contribute to the ongoing discussion of the lament-praise relationship in Psalms studies in three primary ways. First, in light of the gathering consensus that the Heilsorakel is not the cause of the Stimmungsumschwung, I will offer a new explanation for the (rapid) change of mood. Second, I will offer the beginnings of a theology of lament and praise that emerges from a dialogical reading of the individual laments. Finally, I will introduce a new form of scholarly engagement with the biblical text: the Iconic-Textual Approach.

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Lament. Psalms of lament. Psalms of individual lament. Creative research. Arts based research. Psalm 22. Psalm 57. Psalm 88. Psalm 102. Psalm 143.
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