Contemporary Jewish and Islamic Writings on Job

I’m currently in the planning stages of a course for next year. Currently the title of the course is “Contemporary Religious Thinking” and so, as you can expect, the options for this are quite vast. At the moment I’m playing around with the idea of having the course focus around suffering and violence by looking at contemporary responses to the book of Job. So we would read Alter’s translation of Job together and then the Job books of Gutierrez, Jung, and Negri. This would cover some very different “religious” forms of thinking, but I want to include responses from Judaism and Islam as well. Do any of our august readers know of any contemporary (so broadly within the 20th-21st centuries) works on Job from these traditions?

12 thoughts on “Contemporary Jewish and Islamic Writings on Job

  1. I’d recommend:

    Martin Buber mentions Job in “Dialogue Between Heaven and Earth” included in On Judaism.

    Richard Rubenstein’s essay “Job and Auschwitz” (but I forget where it was published).

    The chapter on Job in Elie Wiesel’s Messengers of God.

    I write about Job in (God) After Auschwitz: Tradition and Change in Post-Holocaust Jewish Thought. Much of my analysis is indebted to Edwin Good’s In Turns of Tempest.

  2. Ernst Bloch’s reading is quite interesting (a fairly long section in “Atheism in Christianity”), as is Elie Wiesel’s reading of Job in “Messengers of God,” and his dramatic re-telling of Job in “God on Trial.” Richard Rubenstein’s essay “Job and Auschwitz” offers a provocative argument – he denies any analogy between Job and Shoah victims. But if you’re looking for more a more religious interpretation, Martin Buber wrote about Job in his book “The Prophetic Faith,” and it’s pretty good – so did Abraham Heschel in his “A Passion for Truth.” I’m not as familiar with modern Islamic interpretations of Job, but from what I do know, usually he’s interpreted as a patient sufferer. I know a bit about Job in modern Arabic poetry (for example, see Khouri, J. N. “The Figure of Job (Ayyub) in Modern Arabic Poetry.” Journal of Arabic Literature 38 (1987) 166-95) but most of what I have seen in terms of “religious thought” is stuff deriving from al-Tha’labi’s Qisas al-Anbiya’.

  3. You might want to consult David Burrell’s little book on Job, Deconstructing Theodicy, as his work tends to bring Jewish and Christian and Islamic thought together. I’m not sure his work would be appropriate for how you are shaping your course, but it may have some engagement with other texts that would be of interest.

    That said, Job doesn’t figure prominently in Islamic tradition for certain textual and “theological” reasons.

  4. Burrell’s book incorporates a revised version of Anthony Johns’ 1999 essay in the Journal of Qur’anic Studies – since then Johns has published two more pieces on Job in the same journal (analyses of Tabari’s commentary).

    In more recent Islamic scholarship, Nursi and Mawdudi represent two roughly contemporaneous (early to mid twentieth century) and very different approaches to Job (each with English translations out there) – the good old compare and contrast with reference to their broader contexts would be really interesting.

  5. Scheindlin’s verse translation in well respected in various Jewish religious spheres. I recall it having decent commentary.

  6. Elie Wiesel’s “The Trial of God.” And, though not Muslim or Jewish, you might consider including Blake’s illustrations.

  7. Not late on the draw in the least – thanks for the Khouri essay reference. I haven’t read anything by Sayyab, will have to look him up.

  8. Philippe Nemo, Job and the Excess of Evil. With an introduction by Emmauel Levinas. Translated from the French by Michael Kigel. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1998.

    Andre Neher, Exile of the Word: From the Silence of the Bible to the Silence of Auschwitz. Jewish Publication Society, 1981

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