Cultural Trauma and the Song of Moses (Deut 32)

How to Cite

Markl, D. (2020). Cultural Trauma and the Song of Moses (Deut 32) . Old Testament Essays, 33(3), 674 - 689. Retrieved from


The Song of Moses blames Israel for the idolatry that caused divine wrath and led to the people’s near annihilation by their enemies. This article analyses the Song’s structure and dynamics, its rhetoric of blaming and shaming, and its literary context within the book of Deuteronomy before re-evaluating the Song’s message through the lens of psychological and sociological trauma theory. Psychological research on the relation between trauma and feelings of guilt and shame helps us to understand the divine message of blaming and shaming as an externalised transformation of self-blame. Through the lens of the sociological concept of cultural trauma, the Song can be seen as an intellectual ‘working through’ of past collective suffering that marks the community’s identity for the future.


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