Cart 0 Log In
SBL Press Bookstore
Trauma and the Failure of History: Kings, Lamentations, and the Destruction of Jerusalem
David Janzen
SemeiaSt 94
Publication Date
July 2019


A theoretical and exegetical exploration of trauma in the Hebrew Bible

David Janzen discusses the concepts of history and trauma and contrasts the ways historians and trauma survivors grapple with traumatic events, a contrast embodied in the very different ways the books of Kings and Lamentations react to the destruction of Jerusalem. Janzen’s study warns that explanations in histories will tend to silence the voices of trauma survivors, and it challenges traditional approaches that sometimes portray the explanations of traumatic events in biblical literature as therapeutic for victims.


  • Exploration of history as a narrative explanation that creates a past readers can recognize to be true
  • Examination of how trauma results in a failure of victims to fully experience or remember traumatic events
  • A case for why the past is a construction of cultures and historians

David Janzen is Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Durham University in the United Kingdom. He is the author of numerous academic monographs on the Deuteronomistic History and Persian period biblical literature, including The Violent Gift (2012), a study of the Deuteronomistic History through the lens of trauma theory.

Download volume front matter, including table of contents and introduction.

Download a printable publication sheet that you can put in your files or give to your librarian or bookstore.