Heath Thomas on Poetry and Theology in Lamentations

SEBTS professor Heath Thomas is a prolific author who has committed more than a few acts of literature over the past several years. His most recent offering, Poetry and Theology in Lamentations: The Aesthetics of an Open Text (Sheffield Phoenix) is the culmination of more than a decade’s work in the book of Lamentations, including research from his Ph. D. dissertation at the University of Gloucestershire (supervised by Gordon McConville).

The publisher offers a helpful summary of the book:

The book of Lamentations is a challenge to its readers. Its ambiguous theology, strident protestations against its deity, and haunting imagery confound interpreters. This monograph engages the enigma of Lamentations by assessing its theology. It does so, however, neither by tracing a single theological perspective through the book nor by reconstructing the history of the composition of the book. Rather, Heath Thomas assesses the poetry of Lamentations by offering a close analysis of each poem in the book. Utilizing the work of Umberto Eco, Thomas argues that Lamentations represents a distinctively ‘open’ text, one that presents its reader with a myriad of surprising avenues to interpret the poetry.”

Poetry and Theology in Lamentations thus contributes to Old Testament studies in general and to Lamentations and OT poetry studies in particular. In so doing, Dr. Thomas enables Christians to read, understand, and enjoy Lamentations and thereby better love God and one another.

Dr. Thomas is Director of Ph. D. studies, Associate Professor of Old Testament, and editor of the Southeastern Theological Review at Southeastern. Among his other recent and forthcoming publications are: Heath Thomas and Robin Parry (eds.) Great is Thy Faithfulness? Reading Lamentations as Sacred Scripture (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011); Heath Thomas, “Until He Looks Down and Sees”: The Message and Meaning of the Book of Lamentations (Cambridge, UK: Grove, 2009); Habakkuk: A Commentary, in Two Horizons Commentary Series (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, forthcoming); Heath Thomas, Paul Copan, and Jeremy Evans (eds.) Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, forthcoming May 2013).

And, for those of our readership who are potential students: yes, Southeastern offers several degrees with a focus on the Old Testament. The Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies with a minor in Biblical Studies introduces undergraduate students to the knowledge and skills central to the work of pastors, particularly in the area of Old and New Testament competency. The Master or Arts (Biblical Languages) prepares students to serve as translators and as field supervisors for Bible translation teams. The Master of Arts (Old Testament) provides serious students with an opportunity for advanced study beyond the Master of Divinity or baccalaureate degrees.

The M.Div. with Pastoral Ministry prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with and is grounded in study of the Old and New Testament. The M.Div. with Christian Ministry offers the same strong core education while giving one freedom to pursue elective courses in the area of Old Testament and Hebrew. The M.Div. with Advanced Biblical Studies offers the greatest opportunity for focus in Old Testament and Hebrew exegesis, preparing one for a pastoral or teaching ministry. The Th.M. in Biblical Studies equips post-M.Div. students who want to enhance their theological training, either for preparation for doctoral study or as an advanced degree for service in the church. Students can take the thesis or non-thesis tracks under the supervision of a professor in the area of Old Testament. Finally, the Ph.D. in Biblical Studies with a concentration in Old Testament prepares students to teach Old Testament, Hebrew, and other courses to college or seminary students, and to write about the interpretation and theology of the Old Testament.

We invite you to study with Dr. Thomas and the rest of our Old Testament Faculty in the B. A., M.A., M.Div., Th.M., or Ph.D. programs of Southeastern. For more info visit our website (http://www.sebts.edu/) and check out the Admissions and Academics links.


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