REL 206
The Book of Job and Joban Literature Spring 2025
Division II
Cross-listed COMP 206 / JWST 206

Class Details

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.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 18
Expected: 18
Class#: 3827
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Evaluation will be based on class participation, short written assignments, and midterm and final exams.
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: If the course is overenrolled, preference will be given to students who have already taken a course in biblical literature.
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COMP 206 Division I REL 206 Division II JWST 206 Division II
Attributes: JWST Core Electives

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