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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Abstract

PRINSLOO, Gert T. M.. Suffering as separation: Towards a spatial reading of Psalm 11. Old testam. essays [online]. 2015, vol.28, n.3, pp.777-806. ISSN 2312-3621.  http://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2312-3621/2015/v28n3a13.

Every human being inevitably experiences illness, loss, failure, and disappointment. When it happens to a perceived-to-be "righteous " person, the problem of theodicy arises, the question whether it is just when deities allow righteous human beings to suffer. The existential crisis caused by severe suffering is a central theme in the Psalter. This study departs from the working hypothesis that suffering can be described in spatial terms and illustrates it with reference to Ps 11. Ultimately suffering implies separation from YHWH and his saving presence at-centre (Ps 11:2-3). In the universe as imagined by the poet there is but one solution: to take refuge in YHWH (11:1) at-centre. That confession, amidst the crumbling of personal security and comfort (11:2-3), draws the eyes of the poet to YHWH in his holy temple and in heaven. In 11:4 the poet's imagined space transports him from -”-. to --•-. There, in the presence of YHWH (11:7), he arrives at-centre, convinced that the wicked will finally be destroyed.

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