The Book of Job Criticism - Essay

John Calvin (sermon date 1554-55?)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

John Calvin (sermon date 1554-55?)

SOURCE: "Sermon 1: The Character of Job," in Sermons from Job, translated by Leroy Nixon, 1952. Reprint by W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979, pp. 3-17.

[Calvin was an influential French theologian and Protestant reformer. Among his most famous writings is the Christianae Religionis Institutio, (1536; Institutes of the Christian Religion). Although primarily known as a theologian, Calvin was also a devoted preacher whose sermons were most often delivered extemporaneously, a fact which has prevented the preservation of his early sermons. In 1549, however, a group of his devotees hired Denis Reguenier as a...

(The entire section is 5973 words.)

Voltaire (essay date 1764)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Voltaire (essay date 1764)

SOURCE: "Job," in Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, Volume III, translated by William F. Fleming, 1903. Reprint by The Lamb Publishing Company, 1910, pp. 314-19.

[A principal figure of the French Enlightenment, Voltaire promoted the highest ideals of the Age of Reason, particularly the ideal of faith in man's ability to perfect himself He was also a formidable satirist who was both feared and denigrated by the victims of his biting wit. Voltaire's works encompass diverse genres including drama, poetry, history, essays, literary criticism, political and social treatises, autobiography, and contesshort adventure tales. Also...

(The entire section is 1312 words.)

Søren Kierkegaard (essay date 1843)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Søren Kierkegaard (essay date 1843)

SOURCE: "The Lord Gave, and the Lord Hath Taken Away, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord," in Edifying Dis-courses, Volume II translated by David F. Swenson and Lillian Marvin Swenson, Augsburg Publishing House, 1944, pp. 7-26.

[Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher and theologian who is widely regarded as the founder of Existentialist philosophy. He was primarily concerned with ethical questions as they were experienced by individuals, and he observed three possible approaches to life: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. According to his thought, the religious path would allow the greatest freedom for the self but would...

(The entire section is 6485 words.)

Josiah Royce (essay date 1898)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Josiah Royce (essay date 1898)

SOURCE: "The Problem of Job" in Studies of Good and Evil: A Series of Essays upon Problems of Philosophy and of Life, D. Appleton and Company, 1898, pp. 1-28.

[Royce was an American philosopher whose writings encompass the fields of mathematical logic, psychology, metaphysics, religion, and social ethics. He is noted for developing an idealist philosophy emphasizing individuality and the human will rather than intellect. In the following excerpt from his essay "The Problem of Job" in Studies of Good and Evil (1898), he examines the problem of suffering as depicted in The Book of Job, employing the tenets of philosophical...

(The entire section is 9892 words.)

A. B. Davidson and C. H. Toy (essay date 1911)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

A. B. Davidson and C. H. Toy (essay date 1911)

SOURCE: "Job," in The Voice out of the Whirlwind: The Book of Job, edited by Ralph E. Hone, Chandler Publishing Company, Inc., 1960, pp. 87-103.

[Davidson was editor of The Book of Job for the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, and Toy was a distinguished American scholar of Hebrew. In the following essay, originally published as "Job" in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition (1911), the authors outline the progression of events in The Book of Job, commenting: "Two threads…run through the bookone the discussion of the problem of evil between Job and his friends, and...

(The entire section is 7894 words.)

James Strahan (essay date 1913)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

James Strahan (essay date 1913)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Book of Job, T. & T. Clark, 1913, pp. 1-30.

[In the following excerpt from the introduction to his critical study The Book of Job Interpreted, Strahan interprets The Book of Job as a visionary author's response to an era of change in Israel which called for clarification and strengthening of the nation's theology, theodicy, and morality, particularly in regard to the problem of human suffering.]

Pervaded by the thought and feeling of a period in some ways singularly resembling our own, the Book of Job is the most modern of all Hebrew writings, though some...

(The entire section is 5750 words.)

Morris Jastrow, Jr. (essay date 1920)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Morris Jastrow, Jr. (essay date 1920)

SOURCE: "The Folktale of Job and The Book of Job," in The Book of Job: Its Origin, Growth and Interpretation, J. B. Lippincott Company, 1920, pp. 25-63.

[In the following essay from his critical study and translation The Book of Job: Its Origin, Growth and Interpretation, Jastrow views the poetry section of The Book of Job as a philosophical discussion in which the traditional explanation for human suffering presented in the older folktale of Job is questioned.]

The ambition of the student of Biblical Literature to try his hand at an interpretation of the Book of Job appears to be as...

(The entire section is 7691 words.)

Paul Weiss (essay date 1948)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Paul Weiss (essay date 1948)

SOURCE: "God, Job, and Evil," in The Dimensions of Job: A Study and Selected Readings, edited by Nahum N. Glatzer, Schocken Books Inc., 1969, pp. 181-93.

[Weiss was a leading American philosopher whose works include Nature and Man (1947), Man's Freedom (1950), Modes of Being (1958), The World of Art (1961), Art and Religion (1963), The Making of Men (1967), and Right and Wrong: A Philosophical Dialogue between Father and Son (1967). In the following essay, originally published in Commentary in 1948, he considers The Book of Job "one of the great works of literature, "...

(The entire section is 4851 words.)

Samuel Terrien (essay date 1957)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Samuel Terrien (essay date 1957)

SOURCE: "The Fear and Fascination of Death," in Job: Poet of Existence, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. 1957, pp. 40-65.

[Terrien is a French-born American theologian, educator, and pastor whose writings include The Psalms and Their Meaning for Today (1952), Le Livre de Job: Commentaire (1963; The Book of Job: A Commentary), and The Elusive Presence: Prolegomenon to an Ecumenical Theory of the Bible (1978). In the following excerpt from his Job: Poet of Existence, he discusses Job's experience of despair and isolation in relation to the concept of death in The Book of Job.]

How does man...

(The entire section is 2799 words.)

Richard B. Sewall (essay date 1959)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Richard B. Sewall (essay date 1959)

SOURCE: "The Book of Job," in The Vision of Tragedy, revised edition, Yale University Press, 1980, pp. 9-24.

[Sewall is an American critic and educator whose critical study The Vision of Tragedy, originally published in 1959, was lauded by critics and declared an "academic bestseller. "In the following essay from that work, Sewall discusses the concept of tragedy in The Book of Job in relation to several works of fiction, concluding that Job may be considered a somewhat "dangerous" or rebellious work in the context of traditional Hebrew literature.]

We look at a work of literature and...

(The entire section is 6701 words.)

Eugene Goodheart (essay date 1961)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Eugene Goodheart (essay date 1961)

SOURCE: "Job and the Modern World," in Judaism, Vol. 10, No. 1, Winter, 1961, pp. 21-28.

[Goodheart is an American critic and educator. In the following essay he contrasts modern interpretations of Job's suffering in several fictional works with the original intent of TheBookof Job.]

Behind much of the modern literature of suffering is the greatest single work of the Bible, The Book of Job. We hear echoes of Job in books as different from one another as The Brothers Karamazov, Jude the Obscure and The Castle. If, however, we return to Job from a reading of...

(The entire section is 4464 words.)

Robert Gordis (essay date 1965)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Robert Gordis (essay date 1965)

SOURCE: "The Lord out of the Whirlwind," in The Book of God and Man: A Study of Job, The University of Chicago Press, 1965, pp. 117-34.

[Gordis is an American rabbi, theologian, and editor who has written broadly on Jewish culture and theology. In the following essay he focuses on God's speeches in The Book of Job, examining various critical perspectives concerning their authenticity and form and emphasizing the importance of allusion in Hebrew literature.]

As Elihu's words end, a storm is seen rising in the east. The Lord himself appears in the whirlwind and addresses Job in two speeches, after each of which...

(The entire section is 6907 words.)

Marvin H. Pope (essay date 1965)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Marvin H. Pope (essay date 1965)

SOURCE: An introduction to Job, translated by Marvin H. Pope, Doubleday & Company, 1965, pp. XVLXXXIV.

[In the following excerpt from his introduction to The Anchor Bible: Job, Pope examines several points of critical debate surrounding The Book of Job: the question of textual integrity, the form and origin of the book, the place of the work in the literary canon, and the philosophical and educational intentions of the book's author(s).]

To summarize the contents of the Book of Job raises the question of its literary unity and integrity. The same issue is raised by the problem of...

(The entire section is 8116 words.)

Northrop Frye (essay date 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Northrop Frye (essay date 1981)

SOURCE: "Myth Two," in The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1982, pp. 169-98.

[A Canadian critic and editor, Frye is the author of the highly influential and controversial Anatomy of Criticism (1957), in which he argued that literary criticism can be scientific in its method and results, and that judgments are not inherent in the critical process. Believing that literature is wholly structured by myth and symbol, Frye views the critic's task as the explication of a work's archetypal characteristics. In the following essay from his critical study The Great Code: The Bible and Literature (1981),...

(The entire section is 2479 words.)

René Girard (essay date 1985)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

René Girard (essay date 1985)

SOURCE: "The Case of Job," in Job: The Victim of His People, translated by Yvonne Freccero, The Athlone Press, 1987, pp. 3-18.

[Girard is a French scholar whose critical studies include Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque (1961; Deceit, Desire and the Novel), and La Violence et le sacré (1972; Violence and the Sacred). In the following excerpt from his critical study Job: The Victim of His People, originally published in 1985 as La route antique des hommes pervers, he examines the role of the community in Job's suffering.]

What do we know about the Book of...

(The entire section is 4514 words.)

Moshe Greenberg (essay date 1987)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Moshe Greenberg (essay date 1987)

SOURCE: "Job," in The Literary Guide to the Bible, edited by Robert Alter and Frank Kermode, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1987, pp. 283-303.

[An American professor of the Bible and of Hebrew and Semitic Languages and Literatures, Greenberg has published works that include The Religion of Israel (1963) and Introduction to Hebrew (1964). In the following essay he offers an analysis of The Book of Job, examining problems of inconsistency within the text and considering several possible interpretations of the work's meaning.]

The prophet Ezekiel mentions...

(The entire section is 10141 words.)

Edwin M. Good (essay date 1990)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

Edwin M. Good (essay date 1990)

SOURCE: "Is Job Religious for Nothing?" in In Turns of Tempest: A Reading of Job, Stanford University Press, 1990, pp. 189-203.

[Good is a Cameroonian-born theologian whose writings include Irony in the Old Testament (1965) and Job and the Literary Task: A Response (1973). In the following essay he offers an analysis of the first section of The Book of Job.]

Perhaps Job 1-2 is a folktale. In some respects it reads like one: the "once upon a time" beginning, with its quick, deft encapsulation of the hero's circumstances and character, the formulaic structural points ("It was the day...

(The entire section is 7266 words.)