The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations

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Carol Newsom illuminates the relation between the aesthetic forms of Job and the claims made by its various characters. Her innovative approach makes possible a new understanding of the unity of the book that rejects its dismantling in historical criticism and the flattening of the text that characterizes many final form readings. Additionally, she rehabilitates the moral perspectives represented by certain voices of the book that modern critics have treated with disdain.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book offers an insightful reading of Job and conceptually advances the understanding of modes of expression of Iraelite religious thought." —Old Testament Abstracts

"This approach results in a extraordinary reading of Job, both methodologically and substantively. Newsom does not pretend to resolve all the interpretive cruxes, but to put the conversation on a firm footing, and she succeeds admirably.... readers who engage Job under her guidance will find themselves grappling indirectly with its moral and even its pastoral implications. This is the kind of interpretation that gets to the heart of the matter and makes a real difference—criticism in the best sense of the word."—Anglican Theological Review

"Carol Newsom's magnificent analysis of the book of Job from the perspective of modern hermeneutics, and propelled by the theme of the moral imagination, is destined to become a classic. Her deft handling of the interpretive tradition, her choice of guides—e.g., Mikhail Bakhtin, Wayne Booth, Emmanuel Levinas, Paul Ricoeur, Martha Nussbaum, Alasdair MacIntyre—and her engagement with the biblical text in all its complexity are a joy to behold."—James L. Crenshaw, Robert L. Flowers Professor of the Old Testament, Duke University

"Carol Newsom's study of Job is an insightful and provocative reading of that most difficult of biblical books. By combining literary-critical and postmodern methodologies, she significantly advances our interpretation of the book of Job, solving many problems that earlier treatments have not. This is a major and substantial contribution, lucid in both argument and style. Future work on Job will have to begin where Newsom leaves off." —Michael D. Coogan, Editor, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, The Oxford History of the Biblical World, and The Oxford Companion to the Bible

"Carol Newsom's new book raises the level of discourse on the discourse of the Book of Job to a higher plane. Rarely has such literary sophistication been applied to a Biblical text with such clarity and moment. We are led to read the different parts of Job and the different voices given expression within them in dialogue with each other, without privileging one over the other. Drawing (ever critically) on the work of Bakhtin and several other theorists and critics, Newsom makes a powerful argument for an active reading of Job that is intensely engaged both textually and morally. No serious reader of Job will pass over Newsom's book, and no reader of the book will ever be the same. Readers may well find it, as I did, a milestone in their education. A tour de force and a major contribution to Biblical interpretation."—Edward L. Greenstein, Professor of Bible, Tel Aviv University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195150155
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol A. Newsom is Professor of Old Testament at Emory University's Candler School of Theology. She has written and edited several books, and is co-editor of The New Oxford Annotated Bible.

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Table of Contents

1 The Book of Job as Polyphonic Text 3
2 The Impregnable Word: Genre and Moral Imagination in the Prose Tale 32
3 Critical Curiosity: Genre and Moral Imagination in the Wisdom Dialogue 72
4 "Consolations of God": The Moral Imagination of the Friends 90
5 Broken in Pieces by Words/Breaking Words in Pieces: Job and the Limits of Language 130
6 Dialogics and Allegory: The Wisdom Poem of Job 28 169
7 A Working Rhetorical World: Job's Self-Witness in Chapters 29-31 183
8 The Dissatisfied Reader: Elihu and the Historicity of the Moral Imagination 200
9 The Voice from the Whirlwind: The Tragic Sublime and the Limits of Dialogue 234
Conclusion 259
Notes 265
Bibliography 287
Index 299
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