Arguing with Job: Consolation and Quarrel in the Joban Dialogue Open Access

Alderman, Brian (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/0v8380701?locale=en
Published

Abstract


This dissertation investigates the contexts and cultures of argumentation in the dialogue between Job and his friends (chaps. 4-27). Scholars, taking their cue from Greco-Roman rhetorical traditions, and beginning with Western expectations for argumentation, have often pointed to the failure of argument and dialogue in Job, focusing on the nature of the characters' exchanges and the dialogue's lack of resolution. This dissertation begins by situating the exchanges between Job and his friends in the context of other ancient Near Eastern dialogues, particularly the Mesopotamian dispute poems and the wisdom dialogue as a genre. While sharing some overlapping features, the Joban dialogue moves beyond these texts through the characters' increasingly ill-mannered and antagonistic speeches and by exploiting the wisdom dialogue's expectation of irresolution.

The arguments between Job and his friends are carried out in a manner that reflects the fictive social setting that is configured by the book's narrative framework, where the characters appear as friends and sages in a consolatory context. The role of the friends, particularly in the first cycle, is not adversarial but consolatory: they try to correct Job's inappropriate speech and distorted views through rebuke; they offer him advice by encouraging him to "seek God"; and they attempt to demonstrate the reliability of the moral order through the "fate of the wicked" and the "hope of the "pious" narratives. Through the latter, the friends not only try to motivate Job to act on their advice, they also attempt to restore his confidence in the future by telling these stories as his story in the conclusions to their speeches in the first cycle. Refusing their counsel, Job instead shifts the framework for their exchanges to a form of dialogue that is similar to what Douglas Walton has described as a "quarrel," a context of dialogue where deep grievances and suppressed emotions can be expressed even through impolite and adversarial interaction. For Job, the quarrel opens up a space for speaking about pain, suffering, and traumatic experience. For the friends, the quarrel complicates and, ultimately, frustrates their attempts at consolation.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1. Job and the Dialogical Contexts of Argument 8

1.1 Introduction 8

1.2 The Social Nature of Argumentation 9

1.2.1 Conversational Contexts of Dialogue 10

1.2.1.1 Fallacies and Ad Hominem Argumentation 11

1.3 Conflict and Western Cultures of Argument 13

1.4 Conflict and Ancient Near Eastern Argument 15

1.4.1 The Mesopotamian Disputes 17

1.4.2 Argument as Play: Ancient Near Eastern Dialogues as Entertainment 21

1.4.2.1 The Disputants' Relationship: Complementarity, Opposition, and Argument 24

1.4.2.2 Strategies of Argument 28

1.4.2.3 Insult as an Appropriate Argumentative Strategy 31

1.4.2.4 Insults and Argument's Potential for Social Disruption 35

1.4.2.4.1 Insult and Anger in Argumentation 36

1.4.2.4.1 Bird and Fish: Argument's Potential for Violence 38

1.4.3 The Wisdom Dialogue 41

1.4.3.1 Irresolution in the Wisdom Dialogue 45

1.4.2.1 Good Argumentation without Resolution 49

1.4.4 The Wisdom Dialogue as Showing 51

1.4.4.1 The Wisdom Dialogue as Showing Respect 53

1.4.4.2 The Wisdom Dialogue as Showing the Acceptability of an Argument 58

1.5 The Quarrel as a Context of Dialogue 62

1.5.1 Job, the Quarrel, and Dialogic Shifts 65

1.6 Conclusion 65

2. Job and the Narrative Context of Argument 66

2.1 Introduction 68

2.2 Job, Piety, and the Sapiential Context of Argument 69

2.2.1 Wisdom and the "Land of Uz" 71

2.3 Job as Pious Sage in Narrative Framework 77

2.3.1 Assumptive Worlds 79

2.3.2 The Assumptive World of the Wise 81

2.4 Job, Patriarchy, and the Absence of Argument 87

2.4.1 Job and the "Folly" of God ‎ 89

2.4.2 The "Foolishness" of Job's Wife 92

2.4.3 The "Foolishness" of Job's Friends 95

2.5 The Expectations of Friendship 101

2.5.1 Friendship in the Hebrew Bible 103

2.5.2 Friendship in the Wisdom Tradition 104

2.5.2.1 Establishing and Maintaining Friendships 106

2.5.2.2 The Vulnerabilities of Friendship 108

2.6 The Consolatory Context of Argument 111

2.6.1 Cultural Expectations for Consolation 111

2.6.2 Comfort and Consolation 113

2.6.2.1 Comfort as Sympathetic Identification 115
2.6.2.2 Consolation as Cognitive, Emotional, and Behavioral Change 116

2.6.3 Consolation as Rational Persuasion 119

2.6.3.1 Greco-Roman Consolatory Literature 122

2.6.3.2 Consoling Sages: Instruction and Rebuke 128

2.7 Conclusion 131

3. Arguing with Job: From Consolation to Quarrel, Part 1 133

3.1 Introduction 133

3.2 Consolation in the Joban Dialogue 134

3.2.1 Consolation and Pedagogy 135

3.3 Consolation in the First Cycle 138

3.3.1 Consolation and Rebuke in the First Cycle 140

3.3.1.1 Rebuke in the First Speech of Eliphaz 140

3.3.1.2 Rebuke in the First Speech of Bildad 142

3.3.1.3 Rebuke in the First Speech of Zophar 147

3.3.2 Consolation and Advice in the First Cycle 152

3.3.2.1 Advice in the First Speech of Eliphaz 154

3.3.2.2 Advice in the First Speech of Bildad 156

3.3.2.3 Advice in the First Speech of Zophar 159

3.3.3 Consolation and Instruction 164

3.3.3.1 Consolation and Narrativity 166

3.3.3.2 The Fate of the Wicked and the Hope of the Pious 168

3.3.3.2.1 Instruction in the First Speech of Eliphaz 170

3.3.3.2.2 Instruction in the First Speech of Bildad 175

3.3.3.3 Envisioning Job's Future: The Hope of the Pious as Consolation 181

3.3.3.3.1 The First Speech of Eliphaz 182

3.3.3.3.2 The First Speech of Bildad 187

3.3.3.3.3 The First Speech of Zophar 189

3.4 Conclusion 194

4. Arguing with Job: From Consolation to Quarrel, Part 2 197

4.1 Introduction 197

4.2 Trauma and the Loss of the Assumptive World 199

4.2.1 Breaking the Silence of Suffering 203

4.2.2 Anxiety and the Desire for Death 205

4.2.3 Dominated Bodies: The Loss of Benevolence and Meaningfulness 208

4.2.3.1 Life as Hard Labor and Slavery 209

4.2.3.2 God as a Dominating Body 211

4.2.3.2.1 The Loss of a Meaningful World: Justice, Controllability, and Randomness 211

4.2.3.2.2 God as Confining and Restricting Movement 213

4.2.3.2.3 God as an Agent of Aggression and Violence 215

4.3 From Consolation to Quarrel 220

4.3.1 The Quarrel as a Context of Dialogue: A Review 221

4.3.2 The Quarrel's Emergence and the Failure of the Friends 223

4.3.2.1 Job's Justification of Speech in 6:2-4 223

4.3.2.2 Job's Attack on the Friends in 6:14-21 226

4.3.2.3 Job's Attack on the Friends in 6:24-27 231

4.3.2.4 Job's Desire: 6:28-30 233

4.3.3 Shifting to the Quarrel 237

4.3.3.1 Rivalry and the Quarrel 240

4.3.3.2 The False Comfort and False Testimony of the Friends: 13:3-12 242

4.3.4 The Quarrel in the Second Cycle 244

4.3.4.1 Rivalry and the Quarrel in the Friends' Speeches 244

4.3.4.2 The Fate of the Wicked and the Quarrel in the Second Cycle 246

4.3.4.3 Rivalry and the Quarrel in Job's Speeches 250

4.3.5 The Quarrel in the Third Cycle 257

4.3.5.1 Consolation and Quarrel in the Speech of Eliphaz 258

4.3.5.2 The Quarrel in Job's Speeches 266

4.4. Conclusion 270

Conclusion 274

Consolation in the First Cycle of Speeches 275

The Emergence and Development of the Quarrel 278

Disputation and Dialogue 281

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
School
Department
Subfield / Discipline
Degree
Submission
Language
  • English
Research field
Keyword
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files