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Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Lamentations: Alphabetic Acrostics

5. The order of the Alphabet.

With respect to the manner of speaking, that is so παθητικὸν/pathetic, that, compared with this book, the tragedies of Æschylus,[1] Sophocles,[2] Euripides,[3] and Seneca,[4] are but shadows and sport. It is also certain that book consists of Poetic meters, as Dirges, Tragedies, and lamentations are wont to be formed to soothe souls with songs. Nevertheless, that is to be held, as Saint Jerome taught, that a far different sort of song was in use among the ancient Jews than modern practitioners, who appear to have borrowed their Poetry from the Arabs: and that of the ancients was closest to unrestrained speech, not intricately bound after the manner of the Latins in numbers and quantity of syllables. Finally, all things were arranged according to the Alphabet, with the final chapter excepted, and with this difference, that the first, second, and fourth chapters give a verse to a letter, but the third chapter gives three verses to each letter. This Alphabetic order was kept by the Prophet, whether on account of elegance, or so that he might consult the memory, or because it was received in the usage of the time, that public songs were composed in this way, as the vestiges of this are found in the Psalms of David and the Proverbs of Solomon.

[1] Æschylus (525-456 BC) was perhaps the earliest of the Greek tragedians. [2] Sophocles (c. 495-406) was a Greek playwright. Of his one hundred and twenty-three plays, only seven tragedies survive. [3] Euripides (c. 480-406) was a Greek playwright, one of the great tragedians. [4] Lucius Annæus Seneca (c. 4 BC-65 AD) was a Roman philosopher and dramatist.

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