Verse and voice in Lamentations 3 and Psalm 119

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The two longest acrostic poems in the Hebrew Bible, Lamentations 3 and Psalm 119, are often bracketed together simply on the basis of this formal and surface feature. Only a few studies have attempted to probe the nature of this connection, and these generally with a view to deepening understanding of acrostic poetry as a ‘genre’. The starting point for this contribution is the sense that this relationship (the ‘verse’ of the title) bears closer scrutiny than it has typically been given. Comparison of the ‘acrostic words’ (the initial word in each poetic line) demonstrates that certain stanzas have striking connections, even if there remain some contrasts. While these connections might suggest an acrostic ‘tradition’ lurking in the background, they also hints at a relationship between the first person referents in each poem (thus the ‘voice’ of the title). Without claiming identity for these voices, the study explores the impact of hearing each voice with the resonance of the other informing readerly perceptions. The exercise provokes a re-evaluation of both poems, deepening the social contours of Psalm 119, and the theological contours of Lamentations 3.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReading Lamentations intertextually
EditorsHeath A. Thomas, Brittany N. Melton
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury T&T Clark
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780567699596, 9780567699602
ISBN (Print)9780567699589, 9780567699619
Publication statusPublished - 4 Nov 2021

Publication series

NameLibrary of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament studies


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