A Working Rhetorical World

Carol A. Newsom

in The Book of Job

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780195396287
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199852420 | DOI:
A Working Rhetorical World

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This chapter presents a rhetorical analysis of chapters 29–31, beginning with a look at Job’s self-presentation. Here in chapters 29–31, more than in any other rendering of Job in the book, he is allowed to represent himself in terms of a highly specific social identity. Although calling Job the “richest man in the East” in the prose tale (1:3) has a certain function in terms of the dramatic action, it finally plays little role in the construction of value and character. As befits a didactic tale, the character transcends his particular description and functions as something of a universal or generic human. Similarly, although critics have analyzed various clues that suggest the social location and presuppositions of the wisdom dialogue, the dialogue itself makes little attempt to highlight these elements but rather seems to be unconscious of them. It scarcely tries to describe Job’s suffering in terms of his social identity. In this regard chapters 29–31 are radically different, for they articulate Job’s testimony precisely by constructing a social portrait. They represent the issues of moral concern in Job’s suffering as capable of examination only in relation to a lived social reality.

Keywords: book of Job; speech; self-presentation; rhetorical analysis; social identity; wisdom dialogue

Chapter.  8884 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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