Wednesday, June 02, 2010

No more Mr. Nice Guy?

I'm working on the chapter of my Job book devoted to midrash and allegorical readings of Job; its main foci are the "Testament of Job," the interpretations of Job in the "Baba Batra," and Gregory the Great's "Moralia in Iob." These are all texts we covered in my recently completed class (hence the hyperlinks), and I'm finding having read and discussed these texts with a room of smart students was very helpful. But it's quite a different thing to offer texts in a seminar - "so, what do you make of this?" "do you really think it's right/wrong?" - than to have to provide your own account of what's going on in them! And discussing one of these texts one week and another the next, letting each have its time in the sun, is dramatically different from choreographing a way for them to share the stage of a single interpretation. Because, of course, they did not share a stage. Of course this is one of my main points: Jews and Christians didn't just read Job differently, but didn't even really read the same text. (Here's why.) I suppose it was naive to imagine I could dodge the "who's right, then?" question by this move, not least as each explicitly or implicitly asserts that the other is not just wrong-headed but headed towards perdition. Oy. Actual religious history is no seminar.

Image: 16th C. Belgian sculpture of Job as a priest, no 81. in Samuel Terrien's hard to find
The Iconography of Job through the Centuries (but UCSD has a copy!).

1 comment:

ebroido said...

Alright, biblical scholarship is far from my forte, but can I take what you said to support my use of the terms "Hebrew" and "Christian" bible? I've gotten challenge from my also non-biblical scholar friends who claim that what I call the "Hebrew" bible is also Christian. A tangent to your point certainly, but I'll take validation where I can get it. If I can...