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The Book of Job has often been described as the most philosophical book of the Hebrew Bible. The story of one man’s struggle to understand the cause of his suffering and his relationship to God represents the finest flowering of the Near Eastern wisdom literature tradition. Through its exploration of fundamental issues concerning human suffering, fate and divinity, and the nature of philosophical self-examination, Job has served as a touchstone for the entire history of existential literature. At the same time, the sheer poetic force of the story has inspired some of the greatest artistic and literary meditations in the Western tradition. This course will engage in a close reading of the Book of Job in its full cultural, religious, and historical context with special attention to its literary, philosophical, and psychological dimensions. We will then proceed to investigate key modern works in several genres that involve Joban motifs, themes, and text both explicitly and implicitly. These texts will include Franz Kafka’s The Trial, Archibald MacLeish’s J.B., Robert Frost’s “Masque of Reason,” Carl Jung’s Answer to Job, and William Blake’s Illustrations to the Book of Job. All readings are in translation.
Format: seminar; For the spring of 2021, this course will be taught online. The seminar will meet at the regularly scheduled time twice a week.
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
Evaluation will be based on class participation, weekly short written assignments, and two longer papers.
If the course is overenrolled, preference will be given to students who have already taken a course in biblical literature.
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
JWST Core Electives