“Consolations of God”

Carol A. Newsom

in The Book of Job

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780195396287
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199852420 | DOI:
“Consolations of God”

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This chapter focuses on the perspectives of the friends in the book of Job. Criticized ever since Elihu, they have fared particularly badly in 20th-century readings. Frequently, the friends are interpreted as religiously narrow, mean-spirited hypocrites. Even when given credit for sincerity and initial compassion, they are seldom taken seriously as articulating a view of reality that might have its own claims to truth. Such reactions toward the friends, whether hostile or merely condescending, seem motivated, at least in part, by a sense that to take their arguments seriously is somehow to join in a vicious blaming of the victim, a further act of violence against Job. Such an attitude, though nobly motivated, diminishes the intellectual challenge of the book. What is lost when the friends are dismissed is the generic force of the wisdom dialogue as a confrontation between two significant but incommensurable perspectives.

Keywords: book of Job; friends; moral imagination; wisdom dialogue

Chapter.  20829 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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