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Risking Truth: Reshaping the World Through Prayers of Lament: A Response to Scott A. Ellington

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This response is directed to ch. 6 of Risking Truth in which Ellington examines the use of lament in the New Testament. His discussion falls into four parts: 1) A reflection on the paucity of prayers of lament in the New Testament. Ellington hints at but does not articulate the best accounting for this paucity of lament, namely that early Christians found the prayers present in the Old Testament to be effective and satisfactory instruments for the expression of their own lamentation; 2) A discussion of the effect that the New Testament teaching on the shared suffering with Christ has on the ongoing validity of lament. In this section Ellington could explore further the function of lament within the eschatological framework of the kingdom message announced by Jesus as well as the function of the Pauline language of 'joy' and 'rejoicing' which all too often is interpreted in a too facile manner; 3) An analysis of the function of lament within the structure of the Apocalypse. Ellington correctly discerns the important role lament plays in the theological structure of the book; and 4) An argument for the canonical function of lament in Matthew. Ellington's treatment of lament in Matthew, wherein he regards Jesus' encounter with the lamenting Canaanite woman as marking a major structural transition in the narrative, is not so convincing. Ellington's brief foray into the New Testament cannot be faulted since his main intention is to explore the contours of lament in the Old Testament. His preliminary statements do reveal that a study delving more deeply into the shape, character and function of New Testament lament would be of great value to the academy and to the Church.

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