Job the Silent: A Study in Historical Counterpoint / Edition 1

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Offering an original reading of the book of Job, one of the great literary classics of biblical literature, this book develops a new analogical method for understanding how biblical texts evolve in the process of transmission. Zuckerman argues that the book of Job was intended as a parody protesting the stereotype of the traditional righteous sufferer as patient and silent. He compares the book of Job and its fate to that of a famous Yiddish short story, "Bontsye Shvayg," another covert parody whose protagonist has come to be revered as a paradigm of innocent Jewish suffering. Zuckerman uses the story to prove how a literary text becomes separated from the intention of its author, and takes on quite a different meaning for a specific community of readers.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Scintillating....A magnificent counterpoint to the traditional interpretation of the biblical book of Job....I found Zuckerman's treatment of Job one of the most stimulating books I have read in some time....I recommend it highly as a possible, and in many ways plausible, reading of the book."—Hebrew Studies

"An intellectual tour de force....Zuckerman's expansive vision offers insights beyond just the Book of Job."—Religion and Literature

"This is a thought-provoking treatment, offering insights on the book of Job (and the other texts referred to) which escape more orthodox readings."—Expository Times

"Zuckerman shows a thorough familiarity and critical engagement with the great commentaries on Job. His control of the periodical literature is impressive and he is very much at home with the broad Western tradition in Israel and the ancient Near East. The skillful use of musical imagery adds pleasure to the reading."—Theological Studies

"Dr. Zuckerman undertakes the major task of a literary critic, and that is to explain the book of Job that we have and how it got that way, what it means, and how it has been interpreted over the centuries. In particular, he investigates the obvious question as to why Job is known in tradition and to us as a very patient and long-suffering individual, whereas in the book of Job itself, for the most part (in the Poem especially) he is anything but patient. His basic view that the Poem is a parody will probably hold up."—David Noel Freedman, University of California, San Diego

"This is exciting work, the most significant contribution in the continuing effort to understand the Book of Job and its congeners that has come to my attention in more than thirty years."—Marvin Pope, Yale University

"Job the Silent is enjoyable reading. It is also a major work of Joban scholarship. Zuckerman's thesis deserves a thoroughgoing evaluation and critique."—The Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"This is one of the most fascinating and perceptive studies of the Book of Job that I have read."—Journal of Theological Studies

"[An] excellent book."—The Journal of Religion

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195121278
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/28/1998
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Southern California
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Table of Contents

Introduction 3
Part I
1. The "Patience" Problem 13
2. The Akedah Model 16
3. The Case against a Linear Reading 25
4. Super-Job 34
5. Anti-Job 46
6. Super-Reality 59
7. The "Sincerely Wrong" Approach 77
Part II
8. Barriers to Interpretation and the "Bontsye-Model" 87
9. The Art of Parody: The Dialogue/Appeal 93
10. The Art of Parody: The Legal Metaphor 104
11. The Art of Parody: The Death Theme 118
12. Supplemental Themes 136
13. Intervening Themes 166
14. Conclusion: The Joban Fugue 175
The Text and Translation of Y. L. Perets' "Bontsye Shvayg" 181
Abbreviations 196
Notes 199
Index of Authors 283
Index of Ancient Sources 288
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