Discussing Kathleen M. O’Connor’s understanding of the book of Jeremiah as a book by and for traumatized survivors of the collapse of Jerusalem (587 B.C.E.), this essay introduces the concepts of cultural memory (Jan Assmann) and cultural trauma (Jeffrey Alexander) as the methodological bases for a synchronic reading of the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. It is suggested that the apparently chaotic shape of Jeremiah as well as the orderly style of Lamentations reflect the emphasis of the collective agents or carrier groups (Alexander) that stood behind the writing down of the books on the healing process of a society searching for meaning. This textual chaos is also reflected in the gendering of voices in Jer 2; 8–9, and Lam 1–2; 4 which constructs the audience as victims of their ancestors’ transgressions.
Trauma and Traumatization in Individual and Collective Dimensions: Insights From Biblical Studies and Beyond, 2014, p. 162-176