Job: Understanding the Biblical Archetype of Patience
Job: Understanding the Biblical Archetype of Patience

Job: Understanding the Biblical Archetype of Patience

in Studies on Personalities of the Old Testament

by Samuel E. Balentine

Pages 287
Publisher Fortress Press
Published 7/16/2024
ISBN-13 9781506491929
Each new generation of readers is shaped by different historical, cultural, and political contexts, which in turn require new interpretations of an old, yet continually mesmerizing story. The church fathers interpreted Job as a forerunner of Christ, while medieval Jewish commentators debated God's providential love. Artists, beginning at least in the Greco-Roman period, painted and sculpted their own interpretations. Goethe's reading of the satan figure in Faust is not the same as Chaucer's in The Canterbury Tales, and neither is fully consonant with the Testament of Job or the Qur'an.

In Job: Understanding the Biblical Archetype of Patience, Samuel E. Balentine examines this rich and varied history of interpretation by focusing on the principal characters in the story: Job, God, the satan, Job's wife, and his friends. Each chapter begins with a concise analysis of the biblical description of these characters, then explores how subsequent readers have expanded or reduced the story, shifted its major emphases or retained them, read the story as history or as fiction, and applied the morals of the story to the present or dismissed them as irrelevant.

The biblical story of Job leads to an ongoing practice of reading and rereading, evaluating and reevaluating. One need only compare the descriptions of God in the biblical account with the imaginative renderings by Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, and Franz Kafka to see that the effort to understand why God afflicts Job "for no reason" (2:3) continues to be both compelling and endlessly complicated.


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