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«Out of My Distress, O YHWH !». Outcry in the Hebrew Bible

Mod.: R.P. Stephen Pisano, S.J.

Sifting through the dissociated linguistic and literary material spread out In the Hebrew Bible, we try to present a comprehensive picture of outcry, which, while illuminating the distinctive terms used for it, would simultaneously shed light on the multidimensional nature of this phenomenon. Following a largely synchronic approach, the terms, on which this inquiry is based, are viewed as lively instruments of linguistic communication, which have to be analysed in the literary contexts in which they occur. Our focus, as we enter into the dynamics of this phenomenon, is on suitable interpretational modes for the distressful cry, which may be found in any text in the OT originating from whichever period of biblical history. The selection of a few texts, where the constitutive elements of outcry are especially evident, was a tactical methodological choice due to the vastness of the material that had to be accounted for.

A rather simple procedure is followed in this research: beginning with an examination of the fact, of this human utterance, it continues with an inquiry of its causes and culminated at its cessation. In Part One we tackle the problem head-on primarily from the lexical and linguistic point of view. As the terminological analysis revealed that outcry first and foremost represents a reaction to human distress, to elucidate this aspect its underlying causes were looked into in the subsequent chapters (Two to Five) and towards the end we try to investigate its effect (Chapters Seven and Eight) so that the reader can get an accurate idea of its multifaceted implications. The reactive and symbolic nature of the sound suggested by outcry permitted us also to examine the psycho-physical condition of the crier (Chapter Six) and to demonstrate the various levels of response (Chapter Seven) to this sound. Thus its typically human or anthropological traits are clarified in the first five chapters of Part Two and the theological implications in the last two. The whole discussion is conducted taking into account the communicational valence and impact of outcry in inter-human and human-divine level.