Biblical Studies Job
by
Carol Newsom
  • LAST REVIEWED: 18 June 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 September 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0065

Introduction

The book of Job is one of the wisdom writings in the Hebrew Bible. In the Jewish canon it is placed with the Kethubim (“Writings”), and in the Christian canons with the Poetical Books. Unlike other biblical wisdom texts, it does not take the form of an instruction or a proverb collection. Uniquely, it is a set of poetic dialogues (first between Job and his friends, then between Job and God), which are framed by a prose tale about the legendary figure of Job. Although the date of the composition of the book is uncertain, most consider it likely to be from the early postexilic period. The book shows considerable familiarity with ancient Near Eastern literary and mythic traditions, and indeed, Job himself is not presented as an Israelite. The literary quality of the book is exceptionally high, with poetry that is difficult and sophisticated. Undoubtedly the author was a member of a learned scribal intelligentsia. Within the book, issues concerning the nature of piety, the enigma of innocent suffering, the nature of God, and the existence (or not) of a moral order in the world are examined from a variety of perspectives. Job not only has elicited extensive theological commentary but has also inspired significant artistic and literary work throughout the ages.

General Overviews

Introductions to Israelite wisdom literature contain substantial chapters on the book of Job. Crenshaw 1998 is a well-balanced and comprehensive survey of the major issues. Perdue 2008 also includes treatment of theological themes and a consideration of the social location of the book.

  • Crenshaw, James L. Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction. Rev. ed. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1998.

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    Crenshaw presents an accessible and fairly comprehensive introduction to the constituent parts of the book and its major features. See pp. 89–115.

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  • Perdue, Leo G. The Sword and the Stylus: An Introduction to Wisdom in the Age of Empire. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008.

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    Perdue offers a lucid discussion of the probable historical and geographic context of the book, its literary structure, and its parallels among Babylonian texts. He also discusses select theological themes, as well as what the book may reveal about the social location of the sages. See pp. 117–151.

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Text of Job

The book of Job was originally composed in Hebrew and translated into a variety of other languages in Antiquity. These ancient versions are of interest both for text-critical purposes and also for the light they shed on early interpretation of the book. Modern-language translations are based on the Hebrew text. Because the Hebrew of Job is in places very difficult and obscure, modern translations often differ significantly from one another, depending on how the translators understand the underlying Hebrew text.

Hebrew Text and Ancient Versions

Scholarly printed Hebrew Bibles, such as Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), and modern translations are based on the Leningrad Codex, one of the oldest complete manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible. The text is available online from TanakhML Project and Das wissenschaftliche Bibelportal der Deutschen Bibelgeselschaft. The latter site also provides the Septuagint (LXX) and the Vulgate. Only small portions of Job were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (Baillet, et al. 1962, Skehan, et al. 1992, Ulrich, et al. 2000), though they contain important information about the text of Job.

English Translations

Because the poetry of Job is so difficult, translations often differ in ways that can substantially affect meaning, and it is advisable to consult several. The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and the Revised English Bible (REB) are ecumenically sponsored. The New International Version is sponsored by the International Bible Society, an evangelical Protestant organization. Its translation of Job is similar in style to the New Revised Standard Version, though occasionally less literal. The REB is somewhat more free. The New American Bible is Catholic-sponsored, and the New Jewish Publication Society Tanakh Jewish-sponsored. The New Jewish Publication Society makes more use of later Rabbinic Hebrew in translating difficult passages than do the other translations. All of these translations, plus the Authorized or King James Version, are available online at Oxford Biblical Studies Online.

Dictionary Treatments

Crenshaw 1992 and Balentine 2008 both offer substantial reviews of historical-critical and thematic issues, as well as the book’s relation to ancient Near Eastern literature and to its reception in Judaism and Christianity.

  • Balentine, Samuel E. “Job, Book of.” In The New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Vol. 3. Edited by Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, 319–336. Nashville: Abingdon, 2008.

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    An up-to-date survey of critical issues. Balentine examines historical critical issues, ancient Near Eastern backgrounds, and reception history. His overview also includes a brief analysis of each of the major parts of the book and discussion of religious and theological issues, specifically cosmology and evil, anthropology and the human vocation, and the nature and character of God.

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  • Crenshaw, James L. “Job, Book of.” In Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 3. Edited by David Noel Freedman, 858–868. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

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    A well-balanced and comprehensive overview of critical issues, but now somewhat dated. Crenshaw’s essay contains a particularly valuable discussion of related works in the ancient world.

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Bibliographies

The major commentaries include extensive bibliographies (see Commentaries). ATLA Religion Database and Old Testament Abstracts are searchable by passage, topic, author, etc. Aufrecht 1987 does not include the most recent studies on the so-called Job targum from Qumran. Dailey 1997 is extensive, but by the nature of the project somewhat indiscriminate. Estes 2005 is most suitable for general readers.

Surveys

In addition to the resources in this section, many of the major commentaries provide introductory sections that survey the history of Joban scholarship; see especially those listed under Major and Technical Commentaries. Kuhl 1953a, Kuhl 1953b, and Kuhl 1954 provide a thorough review of older scholarship, and Newsom 1993 and Newsom 2007 provide a selective review of recent trends in Joban scholarship. Müller 1995 is the most comprehensive overview of scholarship.

  • Kuhl, Curt. “Neuere Literarkritik des Buches Hiob.” Theologische Rundschau 21.3 (1953a): 163–205.

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    A convenient survey of older literature.

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    • Kuhl, Curt. “Neuere Literarkritik des Buches Hiob.” Theologische Rundschau 21.4 (1953b): 257–317.

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      A continuation of Kuhl’s review of literature.

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      • Kuhl, Curt. “Vom Hiobbuche und seinen Problemen.” Theologische Rundschau 22.4 (1954): 261–316.

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        The third part of Kuhl’s review of literature.

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        • Müller, Hans-Peter. Das Hiobproblem: Seine Stellung und Entstehung im alten Orient und im Alten Testament. Erträge der Forschung 84. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche, 1995.

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          This review of scholarship, originally published in 1978, contains a survey of commentaries and articles, including mention of relevant interpretations by philosophers such as Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and others. A discussion of ancient Near Eastern parallels is included, as well as a treatment of post-biblical Jewish and Arabic legends related to the book.

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        • Newsom, Carol A. “Considering Job.” Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 1 (1993): 87–118.

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          Although not comprehensive, Newsom’s essays provide a survey of recent Joban scholarship, with attention to general trends in interpretation and works focused on particular parts of the book.

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          • Newsom, Carol A. “Re-considering Job.” Currents in Biblical Research 5.2 (2007): 155–182.

            DOI: 10.1177/1476993X06073806Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

            An update to Newsom 1993.

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            Commentaries

            Technical commentaries provide more discussion of philological and textual issues, as well as more extensive treatments of particular exegetical matters. Usually, they also give some attention to theological issues. Commentaries suitable for general readers devote more attention to issues of theology and hermeneutics but for this reason are often of considerable value to the scholar as well.

            Major and Technical Commentaries

            Commentaries since 1980 generally pay more attention to literary issues than do the earlier commentaries, which are more exclusively focused on historical-critical questions. There are also a number of commentaries that are suitable for the general reader.

            Recent Commentaries (since 1980)

            Clines’s three-volume commentary (Clines 1989) contains the most detailed exegetical treatments, as well as important philological notes. Habel 1985 represents a literary “new critical” approach, and Good 1990 embodies a self-consciously postmodern stance. Hartley 1988 is the most explicitly theological.

            • Clines, David J. A. Job 1–20. Word Biblical Commentary 17. Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1989.

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              This first of a three-volume series provides a detailed, verse-by-verse analysis, as well as extensive commentary, interpretation, and bibliography. The other volumes are Job 21–37 (Word Biblical Commentary 18A, 2006), and Job 38–42 (Word Biblical Commentary 18B; Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009).

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            • Good, Edwin M. In Turns of Tempest: A Reading of Job, with a Translation. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1990.

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              Unconventional commentary that eschews textual criticism and instead emphasizes a deconstructive reading that pays particular attention to imagery, discourse, and prominent thematic elements.

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            • Habel, Norman C. The Book of Job: A Commentary. Old Testament Library. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985.

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              Habel advances a final-form reading, suggesting that the continuous narrative plot gives unity to the book. The role of legal language and imagery in the book is emphasized.

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            • Hartley, John E. The Book of Job. New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1988.

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              Hartley provides a helpful and comprehensive review of scholarly perspectives and gives attention to grammatical, philological, and textual issues in his detailed notes. At the same time, the expressed intent of this series is to expound upon the Bible’s “implications for the life of faith today,” and he offers reflections on the theological “aim” of each section.

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            Older Commentaries (pre-1980)

            Commentaries published before 1980 tend to be oriented toward classic historical-critical questions, though some also include important theological analysis. Driver and Gray 1921 and Dhorme 1967 (originally published in 1926) are good for philological issues, as is the more recent commentary of Gordis 1978. Pope 1965 is especially valuable for ancient Near Eastern parallels. Fohrer 1963 is a well-balanced commentary, combining careful exegesis and technical discussions with significant theological analysis. Terrien 2005 (originally published in 1963) reflects the impact of existentialist philosophy.

            • Dhorme, Edouard. A Commentary on the Book of Job. London: Thomas Nelson, 1967.

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              Originally published in French in 1926, this commentary is still a valuable resource for technical and interpretive matters, especially related to language, text, and versions. It includes important notes on the LXX of Job.

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              • Driver, S. R., and George B. Gray. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Job. International Critical Commentary 14. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1921.

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                One of the classic historical-critical commentaries. Important philological notes, though somewhat dated.

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                • Fohrer, Georg. Das Buch Hiob. Kommentar zum Alten Testament 16. Gütersloh, Germany: Gerd Mohn, 1963.

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                  Fohrer pays particular attention to the development of the book. He understands the prose framework as folklore and argues that the Satan character was added in the postexilic period. Excellent exegetical treatments and thoughtful consideration of theological issues.

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                  • Gordis, Robert. The Book of Job: Commentary, New Translation, and Special Studies. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1978.

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                    Gordis gives extensive philological and grammatical commentary on the Hebrew text and also includes a series of essays on discrete units and wider issues.

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                  • Pope, Marvin H. Job: Introduction, Translation, and Notes. The Anchor Bible. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965.

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                    Although an older work, Pope’s commentary is still a useful resource, especially for text-critical and philological matters. Pope also notes many ancient Near Eastern parallels throughout the introduction and notes.

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                    • Terrien, Samuel. Job. Rev. ed. Commentaire de l’Ancien Testament 13. Geneva, Switzerland: Labor et Fides, 2005.

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                      The reprint of this French commentary contains a new foreword by Thomas Römer on Job in contemporary scholarship. Readers may also find useful the updated bibliography with literature from the years 1990–2004. Terrien’s approach to Job reflects the influence of existentialist philosophy. Originally published in 1963 (Neuchatel, Switzerland: Éditions Delachaux et Niestlé).

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                    Commentaries Suitable for General Readers

                    Although generally not providing extensive textual and philological notes, these commentaries are often very valuable for other interpretive issues. Balentine 2006 is noteworthy for the wealth of material on the literary and artistic reception of Job. Newsom 1996 provides the most extended hermeneutical reflections. Gordis 1965 and Janzen 1985, though older, both offer provocative theological insights. Wilson 2007 provides a well-balanced treatment of interpretive issues.

                    • Balentine, Samuel. Job. Smyth and Helwys Bible Commentary 10. Macon, GA: Smith and Helwys, 2006.

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                      The Smyth and Helwys series is targeted toward clergy, students, and lay readers. It contains both an extensive commentary and interpretation, as well as sections on “connections” of application to preaching, religious study, and modern worldviews. The accompanying CD makes use of a wide array of extra material, including maps, graphs, and notes relevant to reception history.

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                    • Gordis, Robert. The Book of God and Man: A Study of Job. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

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                      Although its bibliography is now dated, this work is still to be commended for its engagement with key interpretive issues.

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                      • Janzen, J. Gerald. Job: Interpretation. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1985.

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                        Janzen offers a literary reading of the book and puts particular focus on theological interpretation.

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                      • Newsom, Carol A. “The Book of Job: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections.” In The New Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 4. By Carol A. Newsom, 317–637. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.

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                        This work provides careful exegetical work together with hermeneutical reflections.

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                      • Wilson, Gerald H. Job. New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007.

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                        A solid commentary, that takes the book of Job as addressed to the postexilic Diaspora community. Wilson provides a careful and balanced treatment of interpretive issues.

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                      Collections

                      Beuken 1994 and Krüger, et al. 2007 provide a diverse set of scholarly papers on a variety of topics. Krüger includes a section on reception history. Van Wolde 2003, focused on Job 28, is distinguished by several essays on the theory and application of cognitive linguistics. Perdue and Gilpin 1992 includes essays by both biblical scholars and theologians. Van Wolde 2004 focuses on theological and hermeneutical approaches to Job. Balentine 2002 is devoted to theological essays and sermons on Job.

                      • Balentine, Samuel E., ed. Special Issue: Job. Review and Expositor 99.4 (2002).

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                        This issue was devoted to essays and sermons on the book of Job. For theological reflections on the book of Job as a whole, see especially the contributions by Crenshaw, Janzen, and Murphy.

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                        • Beuken, W. A. M., ed. The Book of Job. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarium Lovaniensium 114. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 1994.

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                          This collection contains papers in English, French, and German on a wide array of subjects related to language, interpretation, and reception history.

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                        • Krüger, Thomas, Manfred Oeming, Konrad Schmid, and Christopher Uehlinger, eds. Das Buch Hiob und seine Interpretationen: Beiträge zum Hiob-Symposium auf dem Monte Verità vom 14.–19. August 2005. Papers presented at an international symposium, Ascona, Switzerland, 14.–19. August 2005. Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments 88. Zurich, Switzerland: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2007.

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                          This collection of twenty-five essays in English and German covers a diversity of perspectives and topics in Joban research. Six contributions discuss Job in the context of ancient literature. A second section highlights various problems and issues in the text itself, and the third part of the collection focuses on reception history. The final set of essays highlights implications of Job in theology, ethics, philosophy, and even pastoral counseling.

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                        • Perdue, Leo G., and W. Clark Gilpin, eds. The Voice from the Whirlwind: Interpreting the Book of Job. Nashville: Abingdon, 1992.

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                          The thirteen essays in this volume cover a range of interpretive perspectives, including theological reflections, reception history (rabbinic interpretations, Maimonides, Aquinas, and Calvin), rhetorical criticism, and an essay by Renée Girard on Job as a failed scapegoat.

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                        • van Wolde, Ellen J., ed. Job 28: Cognition in Context. Papers presented at the Academy Colloquium “Book of Job: Suffering and Cognition in Context,” Amsterdam, April 2002. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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                          A collection of papers from an international conference; many of the essays address issues of semantics and cognitive linguistics. Those interested in an introduction to cognitive linguistics should consult the essays by Taylor and Langacker.

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                        • van Wolde, Ellen J., ed. Job’s God. London: SCM, 2004.

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                          A collection of essays with a strongly theological and hermeneutical orientation, including essays that explicitly engage modern popular culture and contemporary contexts of suffering.

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                        Textual Tradition

                        The book of Job was translated into several other languages in Antiquity. Only fragments of the early Aramaic translation survive from Qumran, but this translation reflects a somewhat different ending. The Septuagint (Greek) is shorter than the Masoretic (Hebrew) text overall but also includes some supplementary material. The Peshitta (Syriac) reflects a text quite similar to the Masoretic text.

                        Septuagint (LXX)

                        The Septuagint of Job differs in numerous respects from the Masoretic (Hebrew) text. Orlinsky 1957 provides a foundation for subsequent research. Witte 2007 gives an important orientation to the major issues and provides a substantial and up-to-date bibliography. The English translation of the LXX in Pietersma and Wright 2007 allows even those without a command of Greek to evaluate the general differences between the LXX and the MT.

                        • Orlinsky, Harry M. “Studies in the Septuagint of the Book of Job.” Hebrew Union College Annual 28 (1957): 49–51, 53–74.

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                          In a set of related studies—continued in Volumes 29 (1958): 229–271; 30 (1959): 53–67; and 32 (1961): 239–268—Orlinsky argues that the LXX translator attempted to render the Hebrew into Greek as accurately as possible, without the “theological bias” that is often presumed.

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                          • Pietersma, Albert, and Benjamin G. Wright, eds. A New English Translation of the Septuagint. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                            The translation of Job is prepared by Claude E. Cox and appears on pp. 667–696.

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                          • Witte, Markus. “The Greek Book of Job.” In Das Buch Hiob und seine Interpretationen: Beiträge zum Hiob-Symposium auf dem Monte Verità vom 14.–19. August 2005. Papers presented at an international symposium, Ascona, Switzerland, 14–19 August 2005. Edited by Thomas Krüger, Manfred Oeming, Konrad Schmid, and Christoph Uehlinger, 33–54. Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments 88. Zurich, Switzerland: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2007.

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                            An erudite assessment of important issues and a detailed and up-to-date bibliography.

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                          The Aramaic Translation of Job from Qumran Cave 11

                          The discovery of the Aramaic translation of Job at Qumran provided an important insight into the state of the text in Antiquity. Shepherd 2004 is the best starting place for an overview of the critical issues. Van der Ploeg and Van der Woude 1971 and Sokoloff 1974 are foundational early studies. Aufrecht 1985 focuses on the usefulness of the Aramaic text for resolving cruxes in the Hebrew.

                          • Aufrecht, Walter E. “Aramaic Studies and the Book of Job.” In Studies in the Book of Job. Edited by Walter E. Aufrecht, 54–66. SR Supplements 16. Waterloo, ON: Wilfried Laurier University Press, 1985.

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                            A study of 11QtgJob and the textual problems it illumines in the Hebrew text.

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                          • Shepherd, David, ed. and trans. Targum and Translation: A Reconsideration of the Qumran Aramaic Version of Job. Studia Semitica Neerlandica 45. Assen, The Netherlands: Van Gorcum, 2004.

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                            An analysis of 11QtgJob in a side-by-side comparison with the Rabbinic Targum, the Peshitta, and an English translation. Shepherd’s discussion gives particular attention to omission and word order within the text, as well as the use of the conjunctive waw. Those interested in text criticism will profit from Shepherd’s bibliography.

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                          • Sokoloff, Michael, ed. and trans. The Targum to Job from Qumran Cave XI. Bar-Ilan Studies in Near Eastern Languages and Culture. Ramat-Gan, Israel: Bar-Ilan, 1974.

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                            This study provides an introduction, text, translation, and commentary to 11QtgJob. The work includes a thorough study of the targum’s morphology and a glossary of words that may be used as a concordance. Sokoloff concludes that the text dates from the late 2nd century BCE. For an alternative view, see Van der Ploeg and Van der Woude 1971.

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                            • van der Ploeg, J. P. M., and Adam S. van der Woude, with B. Jongeling, eds. and trans. Le Targum de Job de la grotte XI de Qumrân. Koninklijke Nerderlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1971.

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                              This work offers an introduction, transcription, and (French) translation of 11QtgJob. The editors date the text to the 1st century CE. For an alternative view, see Sokoloff 1974.

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                              Peshitta (Syriac Translation)

                              The Peshitta appears to have been translated from a text close to that of the Masoretic (Hebrew) text of Job. It is, however, valuable for understanding difficult words in the Hebrew text of Job or suggesting emendations where the text has been corrupted. Rignell’s diplomatic edition of the Peshitta (Rignell 1982) is the best available source for the Syriac translation of Job. Rignell 1994 an invaluable companion to the text, also provides a translation that gives readers without knowledge of Syriac some sense of the correspondence between the Syriac and Hebrew texts.

                              • Rignell, L. Gösta, ed. The Old Testament in Syriac, According to the Peshitta Version. Part 2, fascicle 1a. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1982.

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                                This critical edition of the Peshitta of Job was prepared by L. G. Rignell under the auspices of the Peshitta Institute, Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden. It is a diplomatic edition based on the 6th- or 7th-century Ambrosian codes (MS 7a1) and is the best source for the Syriac translation of Job.

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                              • Rignell, L. Gösta, ed. and trans. The Peshitta to the Book of Job: Critically Investigated with Introduction, Translation, Commentary, and Summary. Edited by Karl-Eric Rignell. Kristianstad, Sweden: Monitor, 1994.

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                                An important companion to Rignell’s diplomatic edition of the Peshitta of Job. The contents are aptly summarized in the subtitle.

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                              Linguistics

                              The book of Job is notorious for the difficulty of its Hebrew text, its rare vocabulary, and its archaic or archaizing grammar. Grabbe 1977 and Robertson 1972 are particularly recommended for their analysis of difficult passages and archaic morphology. Works by the students of Mitchell Dahood (Ceresko 1980, Michel 1987) should be used with caution, as they are based on certain controversial assumptions about the usefulness of Ugaritic for resolving cruxes in Hebrew. The conclusions of Hurvitz 1974 concerning the date of the prose tale have been widely accepted. Greenstein 2003 highlights the intersection of linguistics and literary issues.

                              • Ceresko, Anthony R. Job 29–31 in the Light of Northwest Semitic: A Translation and Philological Commentary. Biblica et Orientalia 36. Rome: Biblical Institute, 1980.

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                                A revised dissertation completed under Mitchell Dahood, this verse-by-verse treatment is limited to only three chapters and provides extensive philological commentary and parallels in Ugaritic and Eblaite.

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                                • Grabbe, Lester L. Comparative Philology and the Text of Job: A Study in Methodology. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 34. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press for the Society of Biblical Literature, 1977.

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                                  An application of James Barr’s Comparative Philology, this study is a revised version of Grabbe’s 1975 dissertation. Grabbe analyzes forty-five contested passages in the book and attempts to establish some methodological ground rules for comparative work. His conclusions refute many of those derived from Mitchell Dahood’s method (see Michel 1987).

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                                • Greenstein, Edward L. “The Language of Job and Its Poetic Function.” Journal of Biblical Literature 122.4 (2003): 651–666.

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                                  Greenstein argues that many features seen as indicating a distinctive dialect used by the Joban poet should rather be understood as intentional poetic effects.

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                                  • Hurvitz, Avi. “The Date of the Prose Tale of Job Linguistically Reconsidered.” Harvard Theological Review 67 (1974): 17–34.

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                                    Hurvitz argues for a late date for the prose tale, based on his identification of the features of postexilic Hebrew.

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                                    • Michel, Walter. Job in the Light of Northwest Semitic. Biblica et Orientalia 42. Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1987.

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                                      The first volume of a projected philological commentary on the entire book of Job, this volume covers the prologue and first cycle of speeches (Job 1:1–14:22). Michel highlights the text-critical method of Mitchell Dahood and emphasizes the use of Northwest Semitic texts to understand the morphology, syntax, vocabulary, and mythological allusions of the text of Job (see Grabbe 1977).

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                                    • Robertson, David A. Linguistic Evidence in Dating Early Hebrew Poetry. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 3. Missoula, MT: Society of Biblical Literature for the Seminar on Form Criticism, 1972.

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                                      In his revised dissertation, which offers a detailed analysis of the syntactical and morphological features of Hebrew poetry, Robertson argues that the poetry of Job is of an early date, though recognizing the possibility of archaizing. See especially pp. 38–41.

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                                    Genre

                                    The book of Job contains two major genres—the prose tale and the wisdom dialogue—as well as numerous smaller genres (e.g., wisdom poem, lament, oath). Each of the works listed here attempts to understand the function of the constituent genres in this multigeneric book. Cheney 1994 and Newsom 2003 contain the most extended discussions of theoretical issues concerning genre. Westermann’s form-critical analysis (Westermann 1981) highlights the role of lament. Dell’s literary study (Dell 1991) sees Job in terms of parody.

                                    • Cheney, Michael. Dust, Wind and Agony: Character, Speech, and Genre in Job. Coniectanea Biblica 36. Stockholm, Sweden: Almqvist and Wiksell, 1994.

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                                      Cheney suggests that the genre of the frame tale is used to establish and sustain tensions among the diverse material within the rest of the book.

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                                    • Dell, Katharine J. The Book of Job as Sceptical Literature. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 197. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1991.

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                                      Dell argues that the book of Job deliberately misuses literary forms in order to undermine their claims. She suggests that parody is the dominant genre of the book.

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                                    • Newsom, Carol A. The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                      Informed by the work of Mikhail Bakhtin (The Dialogic Imagination), Newsom argues that the book of Job is a “polyphonic text” in which the various voices and genres are structured so as to produce a dialogue with one another.

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                                    • Westermann, Claus. Structure of the Book of Job: A Form-Critical Analysis. Translated by Charles A. Muenchow. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981.

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                                      This form-critical analysis argues that Job is best understood as lament and disputation. He analyzes Job’s speeches and finds self-laments, laments against God, and laments against the friends. Further, he argues that the disputation form is used by God and the three friends.

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                                    Job and Ancient Near Eastern Parallels

                                    The book of Job shows significant points of contact with ancient Near Eastern literary and mythological traditions, particularly Mesopotamian ones. Müller 1995 provides the best overview of the sources. Most studies concern Job’s relation to the Mesopotamian “pious sufferer” texts. For this question the reader should begin with Mattingly 1990. Müller 1994 focuses on parallels to the prose tale. Toorn 1991 and Newsom 2003 consider the generic similarity of the poetic dialogue to ancient Near Eastern prototypes. Magdalene 2007 examines Neo-Babylonian parallels for the forensic imagery in the dialogue. Keel 1978 is important for its use of iconography to provide understanding of the imagery in the divine speeches. Rad 1966 seeks a generic parallel for the divine speeches in Egyptian onomastic literature.

                                    • Keel, Othmar. Jahwes Entgegnung an Iyob: Eine Deutung von Ijob 38–41 vor dem Hintergrund der zeitgenössischen Bildkunst. Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 121. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1978.

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                                      In addition to his discussion of textual and literary criticism, Keel studies the divine speeches with reference to Near Eastern iconography, including a wide range of Egyptian and Mesopotamian sources.

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                                    • Kramer, Samuel N. “Man and His God: A Sumerian Variation on the ‘Job’ Motif.” In Wisdom in Israel and in the Ancient Near East Presented to Professor Harold Henry Rowley. Edited by Martin Noth and D. W. Thomas, 170–182. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 3. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1955.

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                                      Provides the composite text, translation, and commentary.

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                                      • Magdalene, F. Rachel. On the Scales of Righteousness: Neo-Babylonian Trial Law and the Book of Job. Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies, 2007.

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                                        The Mesopotamian influence on Job is generally recognized, and the book is usually thought to have been written in the early postexilic period. Magdalene examines Neo-Babylonian law for parallels to the forensic imagery in the book of Job. The volume also attends to the significance of disability.

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                                      • Mattingly, Gerald L. “The Pious Sufferer: Mesopotamia’s Traditional Theodicy and Job’s Counselors.” In The Bible in the Light of Cuneiform Literature. Edited by William W. Hallo, Bruce W. Jones, and Gerald L. Mattingly, 305–348. Ancient Near Eastern Texts and Studies 8. Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 1990.

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                                        A nuanced reconsideration of the Mesopotamian parallels to Job. Mattingly argues that in contrast to Job, who protests his innocence, the Mesopotamian sufferers often admit fault but are exemplary in their appeal to the gods.

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                                      • Müller, Hans-Peter. “Die Hiobrahmenerzählung und ihre altorientalischen Parallelen als Paradigmen einer weisheitlichen Wirklichkeitswahrnahme.” In The Book of Job. Edited by W. A. M. Beuken, 21–39. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 1994.

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                                        Müller seeks to determine the genre of the prose tale through comparison with Ahiqar and the Assyrian “Poor Man of Nipur.”

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                                      • Müller, Hans-Peter. Das Hiobproblem: Seine Stellung und Entstehung im alten Orient und im Alten Testament. Erträge der Forschung 84. Darmstadt, Germany: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1995.

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                                        Originally published in 1978, this volume contains a concise survey and discussion of ancient Near Eastern parallels.

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                                      • Newsom, Carol. The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                        Pages 72–89 examine the generic similarities between Job 3–27 and the Mesopotamian wisdom dialogues and their significance for the composition of the book of Job.

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                                      • Rad, Gerhard von. “Job xxxviii and Ancient Egyptian Wisdom.” In The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays. By Gerhard von Rad, translated by E. W. Trueman Dicken, 281–291. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966.

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                                        Von Rad argues that the list of constellations, animals, and other elements of creation in Job 38 was influenced by Egyptian onomastica such as the Onomasticon of Amenemope, a list of hundreds of objects that Ptah created. Reprinted in Studies in Ancient Israelite Wisdom, edited by James Crenshaw (New York: Ktav, 1976), pp. 267–277.

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                                        • van der Toorn, Karel. “The Ancient Near Eastern Literary Dialogue as a Vehicle of Critical Reflection.” In Dispute Poems and Dialogues in the Ancient and Mediaeval Near East: Forms and Types of Literary Debates in Semitic and Related Literatures. Edited by G. J. Reinink and H. L. J. Vanstiphout, 59–75. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 42. Louvain, Belgium: Department Oriëntalistiek, 1991.

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                                          Van der Toorn surveys the features, form, and Sitz im Leben of literary dialogues in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Israel, with particular attention to the Egyptian Lebensmüde (“The Man Who Was Tired of Life”), the Babylonian Theodicy, and the book of Job.

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                                        Reception History

                                        The interpretation of Job in religious traditions and in literature has been extensive and varied. Surveys and essays provide a general overview. Because the religious contexts differed in significant ways, it is important to track Jewish, Christian, and Islamic reception of Job independently, though in certain respects all these traditions show knowledge of what was going on in the others.

                                        Surveys and Collected Essays

                                        Newsom and Schreiner 1999 provides a brief overview of reception, primarily in the Christian tradition. For Judaism, see Oberhänsli-Widmer 2003 (cited under Jewish Reception of Job). Vicchio 2006 is much more comprehensive. Krüger, et al. 2007 contains several specialized studies.

                                        • Krüger, Thomas, Manfred Oeming, Konrad Schmid, and Christopher Uehlinger, eds. Das Buch Hiob und seine Interpretationen: Beiträge zum Hiob-Symposium auf dem Monte Verità vom 14.-19. August 2005. Papers presented at an international symposium, Ascona, Switzerland, 14–19 August 2005. Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments 88. Zurich, Switzerland: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2007.

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                                          This collection has several significant essays on reception history. See especially the contributions by Herzer, covering the New Testament reception of Job; Oberhänsli-Widmer, surveying Jewish interpretation; Seow, discussing an alternative view of Job’s wife through artistic representation; and Newsom, discussing the use of Job in drama. Essays by Anderegg and Bodenheimer consider the reception of Job by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Heinrich Heine, respectively.

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                                        • Newsom, Carol A., and S. E. Schreiner. “Job, Book of.” In Dictionary of Biblical Interpretation. Edited by John Hayes, 587–599. Nashville: Abingdon, 1999.

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                                          Surveys the reception of Job from Antiquity to the 20th century.

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                                        • Vicchio, Stephen. The Image of the Biblical Job: A History. 3 vols. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2006.

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                                          Vicchio provides a convenient collection of various modes of reception in the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. Readers should be aware that numerous errors have crept into the text, and thus one should double-check the data. Nevertheless, Vicchio remains a valuable resource.

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                                        Jewish Reception of Job

                                        Baskin 1983 focuses on the status of Job as gentile among Jewish and Christian interpreters. Oberhänsli-Widmer 2003 provides an overarching survey of Jewish interpretation, and Eisen 2004 focuses specifically on the reception among medieval Jewish philosophers.

                                        • Baskin, Judith R. Pharaoh’s Counsellors: Job, Jethro, and Balaam in Rabbinic and Patristic Tradition. Brown Judaic Studies 47. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983.

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                                          Baskin’s study emphasizes the influence of rabbinic and Christian interpretations on each other. She highlights the conflicting attitudes toward Job as a Gentile among Jewish and Christian interpreters from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages. See pp. 7–43 for the relevant section on Job.

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                                        • Eisen, Robert. The Book of Job in Medieval Jewish Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

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                                          Extensive though not exhaustive, study of the interpretation of Job in medieval Jewish philosophy, focusing on Saadiah Gaon, Moses Maimonides, Samuel ibn Tibbon, Zerahiah Hen, Gersonides, and Simon ben Zemah Duran.

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                                        • Oberhänsli-Widmer, Gabrielle. Hiob in jüdischer Antike und Moderne: Die Wirkungsgeschichte Hiobs in der jüdischen Literatur. Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany: Neukirchener, 2003.

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                                          This study surveys Jewish reception of Job from Antiquity through the rabbinic period and also includes a discussion of 20th-century Jewish interpretation of the book. For a condensed version of the topic, see the author’s essay in Krüger, et al. 1977 (cited under Surveys and Collected Essays).

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                                        Christian Reception of Job

                                        Simonetti and Conti 2006 provides a sourcebook of patristic and medieval commentary. Besserman 1979 focuses on theological and ecclesiastical reception in the medieval period, whereas Schreiner 1994 sets Calvin’s reception of Job in the context of Jewish and Christian medieval thinkers. See also Meyer 1954 and Terrien 1997 (cited under Reception of Job in Literature and the Visual Arts).

                                        • Besserman, Lawrence. The Legend of Job in the Middle Ages. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979.

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                                          Besserman treats biblical, apocryphal, and ecclesiastical traditions related to Job, with particular attention to the Septuagint, the Testament of Job, Gregory the Great’s Moralia in Job, and the Office of the Dead.

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                                        • Schreiner, Susan E. Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? Calvin’s Exegesis of Job from Medieval and Modern Perspectives. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

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                                          Schreiner traces prominent interpretations of Job in the medieval and early modern periods, including the works of Gregory the Great, Maimonides, and Aquinas, noting Calvin’s resonance with and departure from earlier commentators. For comparative purposes, she also notes relevant modern readings by Norman Habel, Edwin Good, Carl Jung, Archibald MacLeish, Elie Weisel, and Franz Kafka.

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                                        • Simonetti, Manlio, and Marco Conti, eds. Job. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament 6. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006.

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                                          This volume provides a selection of patristic and medieval Christian commentary on the text of Job, organized by verse. The excerpts, however, are highly selective and often provide little context for the larger work from which they are taken. Nonetheless, this volume is a useful starting point for Christian reception of Job.

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                                        Islamic Reception of Job

                                        In addition to Déclais’s study of Islamic narratives (Déclais 1996), see Vicchio 2006 (cited under Surveys and Collected Essays) for a short survey of references to Job in the Qurʾan and other Islamic texts. Johns 2007 considers Qurʾanic references in relation to theodicy.

                                        • Déclais, Jean-Louis. Les premiers musulmans face la tradition biblique: Trois récits sur Job. Paris: L’Harmattan, 1996.

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                                          One of the few works on the Islamic reception of Job, this monograph discusses three Islamic narratives about Job.

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                                        • Johns, A. H. “A Comparative Glance at Ayyub in the Qur’an.” In Deconstructing Theodicy: Why Job Has Nothing to Say to the Puzzle of Suffering. Edited by David B. Burrell, 51–82. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2007.

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                                          Johns surveys the presentation of Job in the Qurʾan with respect to the issue of evil and theodicy.

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                                        Reception of Job in Literature and the Visual Arts

                                        The drama of Job’s suffering and restoration has made him a figure of interest not just for theological but also for literary interpretation. In addition to Bochet’s wide-ranging survey of literary reception (Bochet 2000), several essays on Job in literature can be found in Krüger, et al. 2007 (cited under Surveys and Collected Essays). Most of the artistic representations of Job develop in religious contexts, though they address certain emotional dimensions of the story that are not always emphasized in the theological interpretive tradition. Meyer 1954 is valuable not only for its treatment of Job as patron of music, but also for the discussion of artistic reception. Terrien 1997, which covers art from the 3rd through the 20th century, contains extensive illustrations.

                                        • Bochet, Marc. Job après Job: Destine littéraire d’une figure biblique. Brussels: Lessius, 2000.

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                                          A broad survey of the literary reception of Job.

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                                        • Meyer, Kathi. “St. Job as Patron of Music.” Art Bulletin 36.1 (1954): 21–31.

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                                          Meyer traces the development of Job as a patron of music and discusses the representation of Job surrounded by musicians. This article provides a helpful and succinct treatment of general trends in artistic reception.

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                                          • Terrien, Samuel. The Iconography of Job through the Centuries: Artists as Biblical Interpreters. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997.

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                                            Terrien collects 150 pieces of art spanning the period from the 3rd century CE through the modern age. He organizes the material by four eras and their central motifs and includes commentary on the art, its historical context, and its relevance for biblical interpretation.

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                                          Theology and Interpretation

                                          Not only biblical scholars but also theologians and philosophers have written extensively on Job. Although the interpretations overlap to a significant degree, the disciplinary differences among the authors make it valuable to consult works from both categories. Within biblical scholarship, some works focus on the book as a whole, while others often emphasize the divine speeches as the linchpin for interpretation. Feminist biblical criticism represents a relatively recent category of interpretive work on the book of Job, focusing mostly, but not entirely, on the enigmatic character of Job’s wife.

                                          General Overviews of Biblical Scholarship

                                          Perdue 1991 situates the interpretation of Job in relation to mythic and metaphorical patterns common to the ancient Near East. Fyall 2002 similarly examines the representation of evil in Job in the context of Ugaritic and Mesopotamian mythology. Newsom 2003, Penchansky 1990, and Zuckerman 1990 each deal with the disparate perspectives in the book, though in different ways. Zuckerman’s approach is diachronic. Newsom uses Bakhtin’s category of the polyphonic text, while Penchansky examines the book through the categories of dissonance and deconstruction. Clines 1994 provides an ideological critique of the class interests in Job. Balentine 2002 situates biblical interpretation of Job in relation to hermeneutical appropriation through sermons.

                                          • Balentine, Samuel E., ed. Special Issue: Job. Review and Expositor 99.4 (2002).

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                                            This issue was devoted to essays and sermons on the book of Job. For theological reflections on the book of Job as a whole, see especially the contributions by Crenshaw, Janzen, and Murphy.

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                                            • Clines, David J. A. “Why Is There a Book of Job and What Does It Do to You If You Read It?” In The Book of Job. Edited by W. A. M. Beuken, 1–20. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 1994.

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                                              Clines’s materialist and psychoanalytical approach suggests that the book supports the interests of the elites and was likely authored and read by members of the privileged class.

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                                            • Fyall, Robert S. Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job. New Studies in Biblical Theology 12. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002.

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                                              Fyall explores imagery of creation and evil, including a discussion of Mesopotamian and Ugaritic mythology, and argues that Behemoth is a figure of Mot and Leviathan a guise for the Satan.

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                                            • Newsom, Carol. The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                              Newsom attempts a sympathetic reading of each of the disparate voices in the book, including the friends. The conflicts among the characters arise from fundamentally different assumptions about the nature of reality.

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                                            • Penchansky, David. The Betrayal of God: Ideological Conflict in Job. Literary Currents in Biblical Interpretation. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1990.

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                                              Penchansky draws attention to the dissonance of the book of Job and offers a reading of Job as a “disparate text.” The first chapter offers a general introduction to literary theory, with a discussion of dissonance and deconstruction.

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                                            • Perdue, Leo G. Wisdom in Revolt: Metaphorical Theology in the Book of Job. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 112. Sheffield. UK: Almond, 1991.

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                                              Perdue surveys and discusses mythic patterns and metaphorical language in Job and its relation to such patterns and language of the ancient world.

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                                            • Zuckerman, Bruce. Job the Silent: A Study in Historical Counterpoint. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

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                                              A complex book in which Zuckerman argues, via a comparison with a Yiddish short story and its reception, that the successive stages of the book of Job represented successive misreadings of the developing tradition.

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                                            Biblical Scholars on the Divine Speeches (Job 38–41)

                                            The key to the theology of the book of Job resides in the difficult divine speeches. Tsevat 1966 was one of the first to argue that the divine speeches depict a non-moral universe. Guillaume 2008 offers an even darker reading. Brown 1999 and Lacocque 2007 offer a more positive reading of the divine speeches.

                                            • Brown, William P. The Ethos of the Cosmos: The Genesis of Moral Imagination in the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.

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                                              Brown aims to demonstrate the moral significance of biblical creation imagery in ancient and contemporary contexts. His discussion of Job highlights various moral imaginations of the cosmos among Job, God, and the friends. Brown argues that the Joban poet seeks to transform both Job’s and the community’s character through the “(re)construal of creation.” See especially pp. 317–380.

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                                            • Guillaume, Philippe. “Dismantling the Deconstruction of Job.” Journal of Biblical Literature 127 (2008): 491–499.

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                                              Guillaume counters Lacocque’s interpretation, arguing that the book of Job reveals a dark side of divinity. The book serves to oppose those theologies (Deuteronomistic and prophetic) that would justify evil as punishment.

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                                              • Lacocque, André. “The Deconstruction of Job’s Fundamentalism.” Journal of Biblical Literature 126 (2007): 83–97.

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                                                Lacocque argues that the divine speeches reject the notion of God as omnipotent cosmocrator in favor of a God engaged in creatio continua, inviting a divine-human synergism to resist evil. See the critical response in Guillaume.

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                                                • Tsevat, Matitiahu. “The Meaning of the Book of Job.” Hebrew Union College Annual 37 (1966): 73–106.

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                                                  This classic interpretive essay argues that the question of the suffering of the innocent is central to the book and that the divine speeches articulate a fundamentally “non-moral” vision of the world. The article can also be found in Tsevat’s The Meaning of the Book of Job and Other Biblical Studies: Essays on the Literature and Religion of the Hebrew Bible (New York: Ktav, 1980).

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                                                  Feminist Biblical Interpretation

                                                  Feminist biblical interpretation focuses primarily on Job’s wife. Magdalene 2006 combines feminist interpretation with attention to legal or forensic imagery. McGinnis 2001 examines the strategic effect of Job’s wife’s intervention in his suffering. Penchansky 2000 illustrates the complex and even opposite ways in which she can be viewed. As a counterpoint to largely negative patristic interpretation, Seow 2007 shows how the artistic tradition often lifted up the more positive understanding of Job’s wife. While Newsom 1998 deals with the ambiguities of Job’s wife’s statements, she gives a feminist interpretation of other aspects of the book as well.

                                                  • Magdalene, F. Rachel. “Job’s Wife as Hero: A Feminist-Forensic Reading of the Book of Job.” Biblical Interpretation 14.3 (2006): 209–258.

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                                                    Explores the role of Job’s wife, complemented by particular attention to the legal material in the book. Argues that Job’s wife is an important mother figure in Israelite wisdom; she prompts a shift in Job’s identity and instigates a development in male-female relations, as evidenced by the fact that the daughters of Job’s restoration in the epilogue are given names.

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                                                    • McGinnis, Claire Matthews. “Playing the Devil’s Advocate in Job: On Job’s Wife.” In The Whirlwind: Essays on Job, Hermeneutics and Theology in Memory of Jane Morse. Edited by Stephen L. Cook, Corrine L. Patton, and James W. Watts, 121–141. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 336. London: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001.

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                                                      McGinnis attempts a “wholly positive reading” of Job’s wife, suggesting that she provokes Job to curse God for the actual purpose of discouraging his blasphemy. This essay has a helpful and clear discussion of the text and various interpretations, and it may provide a useful introduction to the attendant issues of the character, though it is not focused on feminist readings per se.

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                                                    • Newsom, Carol A. “Job.” In The Women’s Bible Commentary: Expanded Edition with Apocrypha. Edited by Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, 138–144. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1998.

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                                                      The chapter provides a general introduction to the book, giving particular attention to issues of interest to feminist interpreters, including women characters, Job’s relationship to the moral and social order of patriarchy, and models of God presented in the book.

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                                                    • Penchansky, David. “Job’s Wife: The Satan’s Handmaid.” In Shall Not the Judge of All the Earth Do What Is Right? Studies on the Nature of God in Tribute to James L. Crenshaw. Edited by David Penchansky and Paul L. Redditt, 223–228. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2000.

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                                                      Influenced by the work of Phyllis Trible, Penchansky offers an explicitly feminist critical reading of the book of Job from the perspective of Job’s wife. After presenting a reading that is more sympathetic to Mrs. Job, Penchansky argues that “Job’s wife personifies the universe that has turned against Job” (p. 227) yet also prompts Job to regain his integrity.

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                                                    • Seow, Choon-Leong. “Job’s Wife—with Due Respect.” In Das Buch Hiob und seine Interpretationen. Beiträge zum Hiob-Symposium auf dem Monte Verità vom 14.–19. August 2005. Edited by Thomas Krüger, Manfred Oeming, Konrad Schmid, and Christopher Uehlinger, 351–374. Abhandlungen zur Theologie des Alten und Neuen Testaments 88. Zurich, Switzerland: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2007.

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                                                      Seow draws attention to an alternative view of Job’s wife from that of the primarily negative reading of the patristic tradition. He analyzes artistic depictions of Job’s wife, and the essay includes color illustrations of relevant pieces.

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                                                    Theologians, Philosophers, and Political Writers on Job

                                                    Ricoeur 1967, Nemo 1998, and Wilcox 1989 all focus on the problem of evil in Job, Ricoeur through the lens of tragic vision and Nemo through a phenomenology of evil as something that breaks through cultural structures of containment. Wilcox draws attention to Job’s response as a renouncing of moral bitterness. Burrell 2007 explains why the book of Job is not in fact a theodicy, and Safire 1992 draws attention not to theological issues but to the figure of Job as analogous to a political dissident.

                                                    • Burrell, David B. Deconstructing Theodicy: Why Job Has Nothing to Say to the Puzzle of Suffering. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos, 2007.

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                                                      A philosophical and theological examination of Job, concluding that its intent is to undermine rather than to advance a theodicy for suffering. The book contains a chapter by A. H. Johns on Job in the Qurʾan.

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                                                    • Nemo, Philippe. Job and the Excess of Evil. Translated by Michael Kigel. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne University Press, 1998.

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                                                      Nemo suggests that the emphasis of the book is on the suffering of anxiety. He argues that while the friends understand evil as something to be managed, Job speaks of an evil that exceeds the law of the world. The God of the book of Job is a paradox, both Job’s defender and accuser. Originally published in French as Job et l’excès du mal (Paris: B. Grasset, 1978).

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                                                    • Ricoeur, Paul. The Symbolism of Evil. Translated by Emerson Buchanan. New York: Harper and Row, 1967.

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                                                      An important interpretation by one of the leading philosophers of the 20th century. Ricoeur argues that the book of Job articulates a tragic vision of the human condition.

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                                                      • Safire, William. The First Dissident: The Book of Job in Today’s Politics. New York: Random House, 1992.

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                                                        Emphasizing Job’s power and wealth, Safire interprets the book of Job as a political dialogue. He uses the backdrop of Job to explore the importance of the dissident in society, offering analysis and application to modern political life.

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                                                      • Wilcox, John T. The Bitterness of Job: A Philosophical Reading. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989.

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                                                        Wilcox examines the philosophical issues raised by the problem of evil in the book of Job, analyzing the orthodox position of evil and universal sinfulness advanced by the friends and problematized by Job. The resolution of the book is provided by Job’s renouncing of moral bitterness.

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                                                      The Prose Framework of the Book

                                                      Whether scholars take the prose portions of Job to constitute an originally independent tale or not, the prose framework raises literary and theological issues different from the rest of the book. Syring 2004 provides a redactional-critical analysis. Müller 1994 and Newsom 2003 focus on genre. Brenner 1989, Clines 1985, and Cooper 1990 argue for ambiguity and subversion in the artistry of the prose tale. Ngwa 2005 specifically considers the epilogue and the hermeneutical issues raised by it.

                                                      • Brenner, Athalya. “Job the Pious? The Characterization of Job in the Narrative Framework of the Book.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 43 (1989): 37–52.

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                                                        Brenner explores the distinction between the character of Job as portrayed in the prose and poetry of the book.

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                                                        • Clines, David J. A. “False Naivety in the Prologue of the Book of Job.” Hebrew Annual Review 9 (1985): 127–136.

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                                                          Clines suggests that the “naïve prologue” offers a deliberate, subtle message and is not inconsistent or unconnected to the poetry that follows. Rather, it is concerned with the relationship between prosperity and piety, as the dialogues are concerned with the relationship between sin and suffering.

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                                                          • Cooper, Alan. “Reading and Misreading the Prologue to Job.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 46 (1990): 67–79.

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                                                            Building on Clines 1985, Cooper surveys multiple ways to interpret the prologue and suggests that its ambiguity is deliberate.

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                                                            • Müller, Hans-Peter. “Die Hiobrahmenerzählung und ihre altorientalischen Parallelen als Paradigmen einer weisheitlichen Wirklichkeitswahrnahme.” In The Book of Job. Edited by W. A. M. Beuken, 21–39. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 1994.

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                                                              Muller seeks to determine the genre of the prose tale through comparison with Ahiqar and the Assyrian “Poor Man of Nippur.”

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                                                            • Newsom, Carol. “The Impregnable Word.” In The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations. By Carol Newsom, 32–71. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                              Newsom reads the prose tale as a didactic story and interprets it in light of narrative ethics.

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                                                            • Ngwa, Kenneth N. The Hermeneutics of the “Happy” Ending in Job 42:7–17. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 354. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                                              This revised dissertation discusses the relationship of the epilogue to the prologue and dialogues. It includes chapters on theological reflections and a brief survey of reception history.

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                                                            • Syring, Wolf-Dieter. Hiob und sein Anwalt: Die Prosatexte des Hiobbuches und ihre Rolle in seiner Redaktions- und Rezeptionsgeschichte. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2004.

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                                                              Syring offers a redaction-critical examination of the prose tale.

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                                                            The Poetry of The Book

                                                            With the exception of the Elihu speeches and perhaps chapter 28, most scholars hold that a single author composed the poetry of the book of Job. Each section, however, has distinct features and has been the focus of specific studies. The Dialogue (chapters 3–27) contains Job’s exchange with his friends. Chapter 28 is a wisdom poem, which many take to function as a comment on the preceding dialogue. Chapters 29–31 contain a final speech of Job, which is not directly addressed to his friends. The Elihu speeches in chapters 32–37 come from a character not previously introduced and have a rather different style from the preceding speeches.

                                                            The Dialogue (Job 3–27)

                                                            The commentaries and general monographs on Job contain discussion of the structure and content of the dialogues. Of the special studies listed here, Greenstein 2003 and Van der Lugt 1995 both focus on issues of poetics, though with different emphases. Toorn 1991 considers genre and ancient Near Eastern parallels, and Witte 1994 notes different thematic emphases that he attributes to different redactional levels.

                                                            • Greenstein, Edward L. “The Language of Job and Its Poetic Function.” Journal of Biblical Literature 122.4 (2003): 651–666.

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                                                              Greenstein argues that the author achieves poetic effects by using words from other languages, in particular Aramaic, Akkadian, Arabic, and Phoenician.

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                                                              • Toorn, Karel van der. “The Ancient Near Eastern Literary Dialogue as a Vehicle of Critical Reflection.” In Dispute Poems and Dialogues in the Ancient and Mediaeval Near East: Forms and Types of Literary Debates in Semitic and Related Literatures. Edited by G. J. Reinink and H. L. J. Vanstiphout, 59–75. Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 42. Louvain, Belgium: Department Oriëntalistiek, 1991.

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                                                                Van der Toorn surveys the features, form, and Sitz im Leben of literary dialogues in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Israel, with particular attention to the Egyptian Lebensmüde (“The Man Who Was Tired of Life”), the Babylonian Theodicy, and the book of Job.

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                                                              • van der Lugt, Pieter. Rhetorical Criticism and the Poetry of the Book of Job. Oudtestamentische Studien 32. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1995.

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                                                                Contrary to the majority view, van der Lugt argues that the speech cycles of Job 3–26 are composed of two cycles (Job 4–14; 15–26 and 40:1–5). A third cycle occurs in Job 27–31, 38–41, and 42:1–6. Van der Lugt offers detailed poetic and linguistic analysis, placing large emphasis on certain stylistic features to divide the poetry into cantos, canticles, and strophes.

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                                                              • Witte, Markus. Vom Leiden zur Lehre: der dritte Redegang (Hiob 21–27) und die Redaktionsgeschichte des Hiobbuches. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 230. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1994.

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                                                                Witte advances a redaction-critical approach to suggest that three layers of redaction develop the figure of Job from one who suffers to one who instructs.

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                                                              The Wisdom Poem (Job 28)

                                                              In addition to commentaries and general monographs that devote sections to Job 28, several specific treatments exist. Van Wolde 2003 contains a selection of exegetical, semantic, and cognitive linguistic essays. Geller 1987, Lo 2003, and Van Oorschot 1994 all deal in varying ways with the way in which chapter 28 relates thematically and rhetorically to the preceding dialogues and the succeeding divine speeches.

                                                              • Geller, Stephen A. “‘Where Is Wisdom?’ A Literary Study of Job 28 in Its Settings.” In Judaic Perspectives on Ancient Israel. Edited by Jacob Neusner, Baruch A. Levine, and Ernest S. Frerichs, 155–188. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.

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                                                                A detailed analysis of the poetry of Job 28, arguing that the theme of the poem is divine providence and that Job 28 forms a thematic partner to the divine speeches in Job 38–41.

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                                                              • Lo, Alison. Job 28 as Rhetoric: An Analysis of Job 28 in the Context of Job 22–31. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 97. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2003.

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                                                                Lo views the poem as a bridge between the dialogue and the following speeches.

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                                                              • van Oorschot, Jürgen. “Hiob 28: Die verborgene Weisheit und die Furcht Gottes als Überwindung einer generalisierten hmkx.” In The Book of Job. Edited by W. A. M. Beuken, 183–201. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 114. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 1994.

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                                                                Van Oorschot distinguishes between the way in which wisdom is used in the dialogues and in Job 28.

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                                                              • van Wolde, Ellen J., ed. Job 28: Cognition in Context. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2003.

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                                                                A collection of papers from an international conference, many of which address issues of semantics and cognitive linguistics. Those interested in an introduction to cognitive linguistics should especially consult the essays by Taylor and Langacker.

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                                                              Job’s Final Speech and Oath (Job 29–31)

                                                              The distinct style and content of these chapters leads some, including Holbert 1983, to assume a different author from the rest of the poetry, though most scholars explain the distinctiveness as a matter of a different genre (Dick 1979, Dick 1983) or rhetorical strategy (Fohrer 1983).

                                                              • Dick, Michael B. “Legal Metaphor in Job 31.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 41.1 (1979): 37–50.

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                                                                Dick examines the ancient Near Eastern context of the judicial language in Job 31. He argues that the oath in Job 31:35 is central to understanding the entire chapter, and he suggests that, contrary to the typical pattern of lamentation used in ancient civil law, the author of Job concludes the appeal with an extended oath of innocence and request for a trial.

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                                                                • Dick, Michael B. “Job 31: The Oath of Innocence and the Sage.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 95.1 (1983): 31–53.

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                                                                  Dick argues that Job 31 is a mixture of literary types. The chapter follows the pattern of a defendant’s appeal for a civil trial, though instead of the customary declaration of innocence, the author of Job uses an oath influenced by the wisdom tradition.

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                                                                  • Fohrer, Georg. “The Righteous Man in Job 31.” In Studien zum Buche Hiob (1956–1979). 2d ed. Edited by Georg Fohrer, 78–93. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 159. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1983.

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                                                                    Fohrer explores the ethical tone of Job 31, suggesting that it both serves Job’s claim to innocence and undermines his claim, for Job incorrectly presumes that such innocence proves that God is in the wrong.

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                                                                  • Holbert, John C. “The Rehabilitation of the Sinner: The Function of Job 29–31.” Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 95.2 (1983): 229–237.

                                                                    DOI: 10.1515/zatw.1983.95.2.229Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                    Holbert argues that, absent the irony of Job 3–27, a different author from the one who wrote the preceding dialogues penned Job 29–31.

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                                                                    The Elihu Speeches (Job 32–37)

                                                                    Whether the Elihu speeches are secondary or original to the book continues to be debated, and most commentaries contain good discussions of the issues. Those who, like Habel 1984 and Waters 1999, defend the originality of these chapters argue that they have an important role in the structure of the book. Müllner 2004 and Wahl 1993 make diachronic arguments for these chapters as later additions to and commentary on the pre-existing book. Clines 2004 thinks that the Elihu speeches have been dislocated from their original place in the book before Job 28.

                                                                    • Clines, David J. A. “Putting Elihu in His Place: A Proposal for the Relocation of Job 32–37.” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 29 (2004): 243–253.

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                                                                      Clines argues that the original place of the Elihu speeches was before Job 28 and that relocating them there resolves certain interpretive difficulties.

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                                                                      • Habel, Norman C. “The Role of Elihu in the Design of the Book of Job.” In In the Shelter of Elyon: Essays on Ancient Palestinian Life and Literature in Honor of G. W. Ahlström. Edited by W. Boyd Barrick and John R. Spencer, 81–98. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 31. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1984.

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                                                                        In his literary and rhetorical analysis of the speeches, Habel argues that Elihu plays an important role in the design of the book, suggesting that Elihu holds the function of an arbiter and that his speeches serve as a logical climax to the legal metaphor in Job 31. Habel also claims that the Joban poet portrays Elihu as a fool, thus offering a judgment on Elihu’s words and actions.

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                                                                      • Müllner, Ilse. “Literarische Diachronie in den Elihureden des Ijobbuchs.” In Das Manna fällt auch heute noch: Beiträge zur Geschichte und Theologie des Alten, Ersten Testaments; Festschrift für Erich Zenger. Edited by Frank-Lothar Hossfeld and Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger, 447–469. Freiburg, Germany, and New York: Herder, 2004.

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                                                                        Müllner suggests that the Elihu speeches represent the first commentary on the book of Job and within the book as a whole. Elihu thus serves as a “model reader.”

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                                                                      • Wahl, Harald-Martin. Der gerechte Schöpfer: eine redactions- und theologiegeschichtliche Untersuchung der Elihureden, Hiob 32–37. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1993.

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                                                                        Wahl argues that the speeches were a 3rd-century BCE addition by a sage who developed the arguments of the friends, making a bridge to the divine speeches that follow.

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                                                                      • Waters, Larry J. “The Authenticity of the Elihu Speeches in Job 32–37.” Bibliotheca Sacra 156 (1999): 28–41.

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                                                                        Waters defends the Elihu speeches as original to the book.

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                                                                        The Divine Speeches (Job 38–41)

                                                                        The divine speeches provide the theological climax of the book (see Theology and Interpretation). In addition to extensive treatments of these chapters in commentaries and general monographs, a number of special studies examine particular issues. Rad 1966, Rowold 1985, and Scholnick 1987 argue for particular genres as giving the speeches their distinctive form and content. Greenstein 1999 underscores the possibilities of reading the divine speeches in either of two quite different ways, while Habel 1992 opposes one common interpretation of the speeches as depicting a militantly confrontational deity to argue instead for a model of God the sage. Schifferdecker 2008 sets the divine speeches in the context of the creation themes that permeate the book, while Keel 1978 uses ancient Near Eastern iconography to elucidate particular images and overall themes.

                                                                        • Greenstein, Edward L. “In Job’s Face/Facing Job.” In The Labour of Reading: Desire, Alienation, and Biblical Interpretation. Edited by Fiona C. Black, Roland Boer, and Erin Runions, 301–317. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1999.

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                                                                          Contrasts two ways of reading the divine speeches.

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                                                                        • Habel, Norman C. “In Defense of God the Sage.” In The Voice from the Whirlwind: Interpreting the Book of Job. Edited by Leo G. Perdue and W. Clark Gilpin, 21–38. Nashville: Abingdon, 1992.

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                                                                          Habel argues that the image of God in the divine speeches is best understood on the model of the sage, not as the divine warrior.

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                                                                        • Keel, Othmar. Jahwes Entgegnung an Ijob: Eine Deutung von Ijob 38–41 vor dem Hintergrund der zeitgenössischen Bildkunst. Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neuen Testaments 121. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1978.

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                                                                          Studies the divine speeches with reference to Near Eastern iconography. Argues that the first speech refutes Job’s charge that there is no plan to creation, for God speaks as creator of the world and Lord of the Animals, and that the second speech counters Job’s argument that God is wicked. Keel appeals to Egyptian and Assyrian iconography to illumine the significance of the five pairs of animals in the first speech and the beasts in the second.

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                                                                        • Rowold, Henry. “Yahweh’s Challenge to Rival: The Form and Function of the Yahweh-Speech in Job 38–39.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 47.2 (1985): 199–211.

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                                                                          Rowold suggests that the form and function of Job 38–39 are best understood by the “challenge to rival” genre, highlighting its significance as a bridge between Job’s defiance in chapter 31 and his repentance in chapter 42.

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                                                                          • Schifferdecker, Kathryn. Out of the Whirlwind: Creation Theology in the Book of Job. Harvard Theological Studies 61. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008.

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                                                                            Schifferdecker’s literary and theological reading focuses on the book’s creation theology, particularly as articulated in the divine speeches. She offers reflections on the implications of the book as related to modern environmental concerns. An appendix holds Schifferdecker’s own translation of Job 38–42, with notes and commentary.

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                                                                          • Scholnick, Sylvia H. “Poetry in the Courtroom: Job 38–41.” In Directions in Biblical Hebrew Poetry. Edited by Elaine R. Follis, 185–204. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 40. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1987.

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                                                                            Scholnick argues that the Yahweh speeches function as testimony in the litigation (rîb) between Job and God.

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                                                                          • Rad, Gerhard von. “Job xxxviii and Ancient Egyptian Wisdom.” In The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays. By Gerhard von Rad; translated by E. W. Trueman Dicken, 281–291. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966.

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                                                                            Von Rad argues that the list of constellations, animals, and other elements of creation in Job 38 was influenced by Egyptian onomastica such as the Onomasticon of Amenemope, a list of hundreds of objects that Ptah created. Reprinted in Studies in Ancient Israelite Wisdom, edited by James Crenshaw (New York: Ktav, 1976), pp. 267–277.

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                                                                            Job’s Reply (Job 42:1–6)

                                                                            Patrick 1976 challenged what was then the consensus concerning the translation of Job’s reply in 42:6. Since then, scholars have found the semantic ambiguity of this verse to be key to the interpretation of the book as a whole. Morrow 1986 argues for intentional ambiguity, while Muenchow 1989 attempts to resolve the meaning via sociocultural arguments. Van Wolde 1994 provides the most sophisticated semantic analysis of the possibilities for translation. Readers should consult the various commentaries’ handling of this verse as a quick cue to the interpreter’s understanding of the issues of the book overall.

                                                                            • Morrow, William. “Consolation, Rejection, and Repentance in Job 42:6.” Journal of Biblical Literature 105.2 (1986): 211–225.

                                                                              DOI: 10.2307/3260390Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                              Morrow argues for the deliberate ambiguity of the text. He suggests that the author intentionally creates an irreconcilable tension and in fact the text can simultaneously sustain three interpretations, making it possible to view the divine address as either an indictment of Job’s challenge to God, a refutation of his worldview, or a revelation of divine power. Includes a detailed grammatical analysis and consideration of the versions.

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                                                                              • Muenchow, Charles. “Dust and Dirt in Job 42:6.” Journal of Biblical Literature 108.4 (1989): 597–611.

                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/3267182Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                Muenchow draws attention to the sociocultural background of the text to shed additional light on its possible translation and interpretation. He emphasizes an honor/shame dynamic as central to understanding the text.

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                                                                                • Patrick, Dale. “The Translation of Job XLII 6.” Vetus Testamentum 26.3 (1976): 369–371.

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                                                                                  In this short note, Patrick argues for the translation: “Therefore I repudiate and repent of dust and ashes.” He offers a primarily grammatical and syntactical analysis.

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                                                                                  • van Wolde, Ellen J. “Job 42, 1–6: The Reversal of Job.” In The Book of Job. Edited by W. A. M. Beuken, 223–250. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 1994.

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                                                                                    Van Wolde offers a detailed linguistic study of the text and possible translations. Acknowledging a plurality of possible meanings, van Wolde makes a case for her preferred translation of 42:6: “Therefore I turn away from/repudiate and comfort myself/repent of dust and ashes.”

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