Piles of Slain, Heaps of Corpses

Reading Prophetic Poetry and Violence in African Context

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Jacob Onyumbe Wenyi
  • Eugene, OR: 
    Wipf & Stock
    , June
     224 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


Piles of Slain, Heaps of Corpses reads the violence in the book of Nahum against the background of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and tries to show how this violent book can be therapeutic and transformative for wounded communities. Here Jacob Onyumbe views Nahum through four scholarly lenses: poetic analysis, study of Assyrian iconography related to eighth- and seventh-century Judah, ethnographic research among survivors of war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and modern studies on the impact of war trauma on communities of survivors. He argues that Nahum uses lyric poetry so as to evoke in seventh-century BCE Judahite audiences the memory of war and destruction at the hands of the Assyrians. The prophet uses poetry to evoke (rather than narrate) in order to bring comfort to his audience by revealing the powerful presence of God in the conditions of traumatic violence. Viewed thus, the book of Nahum cannot be dismissed (as has commonly been the case among both scholars and general readers) as irrelevant or merely vindictive. On the contrary, this book--with its depiction of a vengeful God and repulsive war scenes--is essential, especially for traumatized communities.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Jacob Onyumbe Wenyi, a Roman Catholic priest of the diocese of Tshumbe (D.R. Congo), is Associate Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame at Tshumbe and Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at the Saint John Paul II Major Seminary at Lodja (D.R. Congo).


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