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Theology and Religion Research Seminar - Katherine Southwood (University of Oxford)

When Friends Moralize: Job’s Body and the Dramatized Comedy of “Advice”

A Department of Theology and Religion seminar
Date17 November 2020
Time13:30 to 15:30
PlaceOnline event

via Microsoft Teams

This research seminar will take place via Microsoft Teams. https://teams.microsoft.com/l/meetup-join/19%3ameeting_MDRiNDJjYWUtZWJjZS00ZmM4LThjYjItOTc2NTU1N2YyZTAx%40thread.v2/0?context=%7b%22Tid%22%3a%22912a5d77-fb98-4eee-af32-1334d8f04a53%22%2c%22Oid%22%3a%2209a6f2f6-0932-4550-a1e3-f9b7542dd6b4%22%7d


This paper highlights the key role Job’s body plays in undermining the idea of retribution. Job’s friends provide a wealth of “moralising”, retribution-centred advice in response to his body-centred language. However, it is argued that this profound juxtaposition between bodily experience and traditional wisdom is explored in a light-hearted way in Job. This monograph imagines Job as a play wherein tragedy and comedy regularly collide, perhaps with similarities to Aristophanes and the Athenian theatre. The vitality and dynamism of the dialogues in Job emerges more clearly as the characters pontificate about Job’s problems. Moving through the dialogues, the puffed-up, self-righteous Job becomes ever more frustrated, and his body-centred language adopts key exaggerated metaphors of deity-attack and deity-surveillance in a symbolic protest against retribution language. In response the friends increase their moralising until, after thirty chapters, the comic character Elihu suddenly emerges stating that he is ‘full of words’ and that the wind within constrains him. As all the characters become increasingly vexed, the audience watches the windy discussion elaborate; knowing all along that the entire scenario is the result of a gamble based on Job’s supposed blamelessness. 


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