In Lamentations, we read of the unbearable grief experienced by a group of believers. Leslie Allen suggests the book can be read as the script of a liturgy performed to help the people of God come to terms with the fall of Jerusalem and the national catastrophe it entailed. It reveals God’s sometimes hidden support for those who grieve and for their caregivers. In this unique commentary A Liturgy of Grief: A Pastoral Commentary on Lamentations, respected Old Testament scholar and volunteer hospital chaplain Leslie Allen appropriates this oft-neglected book of the Bible to deal with a universal issue. Incorporating stories of pastoral encounters with hospital patients, Allen integrates Scripture and pastoral care to present a biblical model for helping those coping with grief.
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A Liturgy of Grief is at one and the same time an important contribution to our understanding of and dealing with grief and an important contribution to our understanding of one of the supreme pieces of literature in the Old Testament. Take and savor!
—Nicholas Wolterstorff, Emeritus Noah Porter Professor of Philosophical Theology, Yale University
Leslie Allen combines his considerable skill as a biblical interpreter with his extensive experience as a hospital chaplain to explore the book of Lamentations for its profound resources for ministering to those who suffer grief. The result is an illuminating and compelling study that will help people who are in the throes of grief as well as those who support them.
—Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College
Realism. This is the desperate need for a church that has forgotten how to lament. Committed to celebration, it has few tools to articulate excruciating grief at a loss, to confess sin and accept divine judgment, or to express frustration with God in times of trouble. In the expert hands of Leslie Allen, Lamentations becomes a companion through the labyrinth that is the difficult, and sometimes sorrowful, pilgrimage of faith on the way to hope. We need this book.
—M. Daniel Carroll R., distinguished professor of Old Testament, Denver Seminary
Leslie Allen is no stranger to tears. He is a scholar of the Hebrew Bible whose exegesis is thoroughly tested week after week as he goes walking in hospital halls as a chaplain with a listening heart. His responses to grief well up from the empathic soul of a wounded healer who can point the way to the discovery of a holy hope. This is a book for the caregiver who loves thoughtful scholarship and for the scholar who, in loving people, has a heart for caregiving.
—David Augsburger, senior professor of pastoral counseling, Fuller Theological Seminary
Leslie C. Allen is senior professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has written several major Old Testament commentaries and has served as a hospital chaplain for more than a decade.