Thursday, June 18, 2009

Where we are

I hope some of you are still with me. We have completed the first of three monologues. We are about to begin the second - the speeches of Elihu. Pope (Anchor Bible Commentary on Job) considers that in Elihu, the poet is making a serious attempt to defend God's righteousness. Cheney considers Elihu comic relief. I don't think I will go here without more provocation. Good finds Elihu boring and tendentious and given his name translates the pedigree of 'this young fellow [with] good connections' thus: Elihu (My-God-he) son of Barakel (El blesses) the Buzite (the Contemptible) of the clan of Ram (Uppity).

Is this sufficient provocation? Not yet. We must be provoked by the text itself and we have not yet read it. When I read it 35 years ago, I was surprised at Elihu's appearance - 'who is this?' I thought, 'and doesn't he make sense!'. But I was young then too and could scarcely read in my late 20s and early 30s. Most commentators think Elihu somehow doesn't belong here - he is an addition to the original poem. Who knows! Three cycles, three monologues - why not? Perhaps we will find structural clues in the language that is to come - perhaps not.


J. K. Gayle said...

"We must be provoked by the text itself and we have not yet read it."

Your color-coded map provokes in delightful ways. And yet, it would not be Job without a painfully provoking text. Who, really, would read it? (Wasn't it one of Saul Bellow's characters who declared he wouldn't read the newspaper, because he might find himself believing it!?)

We are reading along with you. Thanks for posting.

Bob MacDonald said...

JK Thank you. I don't know the Saul Bellow quote. I wasted so much of my youth writing programs rather than reading :)

I am very glad you all are reading with me. This journey - strange to say it - has been easier on me personally than the psalms. The theology of Job goes well beyond the tendency among (some) Christians to 'nail down' grace with moral teaching.