Post‐Holocaust Jewish Interpretations of Job

Isabel Wollaston

in The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199204540
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Post‐Holocaust Jewish Interpretations of Job

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There is a long-standing Jewish tradition, both religious and secular, of responding to catastrophe in the present by recalling, and recasting, models and archetypes from the past, particularly from the Bible. They may be recalled literally, as traditionally understood, or rewritten, even parodied (often violently), in order to challenge and/or subvert more traditional readings. Interrogating and/or deconstructing traditional responses and archetypes is present in scripture and in midrashic readings that seek to tease out the tensions, gaps, and silences in the biblical text. If, as James Young suggests, a ‘self-reflexive questioning of the available archetypes’ is the typical Jewish response to catastrophe as writers and artists turn to ‘the only system of myths, precedents, figures, and archetypes available to them’, then it is hardly surprising that writing and rewriting biblical archetypes is a recurrent motif within Jewish literary, artistic, and theological responses to the Holocaust. This article begins by analyzing different forms post-Holocaust biblical hermeneutics can take. It then explores the complexities and tensions within the biblical Book of Job. It considers a range of post-Holocaust Jewish interpretations of Job and the relevance this biblical figure and text might have to the realities of the Holocaust and living in a post-Holocaust world.

Keywords: Jews; Book of Job; Holocaust; biblical archetypes; biblical hermeneutics

Article.  6326 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Judaism and Jewish Studies ; Religious Studies ; History of Religion

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