Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lament or complaint?

Tremper Longman helpfully distinguishes between lament and complaint in the wisdom literature of the Old Testament.

Indeed, before speaking, [Job's three friends ] Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar sit for seven days in deep empathy with their friend (Job 2:13). They don’t offer their opinion until prodded to do so by Job’s lament—or, better, complaint (Job 3). Indeed, it is misleading to call Job’s words a lament because that invites comparison to the psalms of lament. Upon closer reading, we see that Job’s impassioned statement is closer to the grumbling tradition found in Numbers (e.g., Num. 20:1–13) than to the psalms. In the latter, the prayer is directed toward God, while the former is addressed to other people about God. God invites the lament, but not the complaint.

Quote from Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? A Biblical-Theological Approach (pdf here)

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