Friday, October 18, 2013

Job, a life

I did not, when I accepted the task of doing the Job volume for the "Lives of Great Religious Texts" series, think very much about audience. To the extent I thought about it at all (as an ordinary academic I don't imagine anyone much will actually read what I write), I imagined some undergraduate classes, and some of the kind of folks The New School sought in "educating the educated," that elusive but exquisite beast the "educated lay reader." During the writing, I realized it might also be read in seminaries, and perhaps in religious reading groups. But I should have known better - especially given the argument of my book! I should have remembered that Job is the truest friend and witness of many who suffer, that the Book of Job offers a voice, a framework, a vindication for people enduring terrible afflictions but unable to find a sympathetic hearing, who share the biblical hero's fervent wish (and the frame of my book) 

Oh, that my words were written down!
O that they were inscribed in a book!
(Job 19:23)

Today I got what probably won't be the last message from a stranger entitled Job: my biography. The writer (who heard me "On Point") has been housebound for two decades with an undiagnosable disease but consoled by mystical experiences in the way Job was consoled by the voice from the whirlwind. He's written several book manuscripts about his experiences but publishers aren't interested: can I help? Can I?

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