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The mourning of the land in the Prophets

Scantlebury, Gordon M. (1990) The mourning of the land in the Prophets. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Prophetic writers within the Old Testament have spoken of the land or natural environment 'mourning'. Though this concept is likely an ancient one based in agrarian lamentation, the literary motif of 'The Mourning of the Land' does not appear to have been employed in Israel until Exilic or post-Exilic times.

The land's mourning is in a figurative sense, that is witnessed by the environment's drying up, infertility and devastation. In speaking of the land's mourning, the writers are seen to be including the wider creation, where 'mourning' becomes an expression of the totality of the creation's destruction. The motif of Chaos may also be employed, with the implication of some passages that a return to 'uncreation' is being envisaged.

The context of the land's mourning is that of judgement, with the land being destroyed. The mourning may be either as part of the judgement, or as a response to the judgement.

The land mourns because of the human inhabitants of the land, who have either sinned or broken covenant. For the majority of texts, no agent for the land's destruction can be identified: the mourning of the land follows on directly from the sin of the people. In a few passages, YHWH is the one who initiates the land's destruction, however. In a single text, it is the human rulers of the land who are identified as the ones who reek its destruction, leadind to its mourning.

Though not based on any particular covenant or treaty, the mourning of the land as a response to the actions of the inhabitants of the land, is seen to operate out of the conceptuality of the covenantal curse traditions. This is within the context of Creation, and is seen to have its closest links with the curses of Leviticus 26.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Board of Theological Studies
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Boorer, Suzanne
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