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Daily Archives: 8 Jun 2018
Within the book of Job, the interlocutors (Job, the friends, and Yahweh) seem to largely ignore one another’s arguments.
This observation leads some to propose that the dialogue lacks conceptual coherence. Lance Hawley argues that the interlocutors tangentially and sometimes overtly attend to previously stated points of view and attempt to persuade their counterparts through the employment of metaphor.
Hawley uses the theoretical approach of Conceptual Metaphor Theory to trace the concepts of speech and animals throughout the dialogue. Beyond explaining the individual metaphors in particular texts, he shows how speech metaphors compete with one another, most perceptibly in the expressions of job’s words are wind. With regard to animal metaphors, coherence is especially perceptible in the job is a predatory animal metaphor. In these expressions, the dialogue demonstrates intentional picking-up on previously stated arguments.
Hawley argues that the animal images in the divine speeches are not metaphorical, in spite of recent scholarly interpretation that reads them as such. Rather, Yahweh appears as a sage to question the negative status of wild animals that Job and his friends assume in their significations of people are animals. This is especially apparent in Yahweh’s strophes on the lion and the wild donkey, both of which appear multiple times in the metaphorical expressions of Job and his friends.
The first question potential readers of this book will want answered is ‘what is it about?’ The answer:
The discourse between Job and his companions is one in which each side grows increasingly frustrated with the other. Although the dialogue seems to devolve into entrenched speeches for and against their respective points of view, the speakers demonstrate a level of common knowledge about the way that the world functions. In the course of their speeches, they express numerous metaphors to support their arguments. Acts of metaphor production and interpretation depend upon interlocutors sharing knowledge and basic assumptions about the world, which are grounded in embodied experiences (Gibbs, Lima, and Francozo 2004, 1189–1210). In order to make meaning out of metaphorical construals, speakers and hearers must have a common source world, from which they project and interpret the imagery construed in metaphor.
The volume works through Job with a fine toothed comb and mines it for every minute narratival metaphor within. Furthermore
The book of Job is a single written corpus that proceeds on at least three discourse levels. The first level is an author’s discourse communicated to potential readers. On the second level, the narrator seeks to communicate with an audience, synonomous with the readers themselves in the book of Job. The third level is represented by the dialogue between the characters within the Joban discourse.
Unlike the faddish few who discount Wisdom as genre, Hawley maintains
Interpreting the book of Job as wisdom literature is essential for recognizing its literary conventions and its function as a text.
And so it is. The book proceeds in six chapters to show the interconnections between all of its characters. Beginning in Chapter One, ‘The Book of Job as a Conceptual Narrative’, Hawley lays the groundwork methodologically. The methodological development continues in Chapter Two, ‘Conceptual Metaphor Theory and the Joban Discourse’. Chapters three and four delve into speech metaphors and animal metaphors in Job and here Hawley begins to apply the previously discussed methodological tools and shows, with great skill, how carefully the author of Job has chosen his words with incredible care.
Chapter Five, ‘Yahweh’s Animal Images as a Response to Job’, is the apex of the monograph, showing in a profoundly interesting way the metaphorical power of Yahweh’s response to Job. Chapter Six is the conclusion (where Hawley summarizes it all).
In the book of Job, metaphorical construal discloses the speakers’ assumptions and variant perspectives on Job’s suffering, highlighting key areas of agreement and disagreement throughout the discourse. The dialogue takes place within the discourse world of the literary characters, which is presented by a real author to real readers. The book is so difficult, in part, because readers are only able to access the major themes and rhetorical aims of the text through the direct speech of the characters. And which voice wins out? Job is more right than the friends (42:7), but he is also wrong (38:2). The typically trusted voice of Yahweh is opaque, and the relatively silent narrator does not provide us with an interpretive key. In spite of the book’s philosophical and literary difficulties, the readerly effort to seek out the meaning of the book of Job is not to be discounted. Indeed, part of the meaning must reside in the experience of reading itself, struggling with the complexities and ambiguities throughout the dialogue. Any effort at conceptualizing the meaning of the book of Job must keep in mind the overall arc of the book, but also grapple with the minutia of the poetic dialogue, that is, particular turns of phrase, subtle innuendoes, and elusive allusions, all of which come to light in the study of metaphor.
The usual indices follow.
This is a fine study. It is careful, it is leaned, it is filled with insight. It is highly recommended.
So a tale for your edification: once upon a time a middle aged man was told by his doctor that he needed a sleep study, so he went and he had it done. After several months a followup visit was scheduled at the supplier of cpap machines. The place was called AeroCare.
Upon receiving his machine, the middle aged man was informed that his insurance was covering 80% of the cost and he would be responsible for the remainder, coming out to around $9 a month for a 10 month period till the machine was paid off.
A month later mail arrived from AeroCare. It was a bill. It was a bill for $530. Surprised, the middle age man called the company and was informed that the cost was his portion after insurance. How could that be, he wondered, since if he were already supposed to be paying $9 a month while insurance paid the rest. ‘That’s just the information I have’ said the unhelpful phone voice representing AeroCare.
Payment arranged, the middle aged man thought that was the end of the horror- until the next month rolled around and he had a bill for $59 – the monthly fee, he was told, when he in surprise called AeroCare yet again to gain clarity for his own peace of mind. How can that be the monthly fee, he asked, when he had been told that the monthly rental was $9. Whence the extra $50? ‘That’s just the information I have’ said the unhelpful voice on the phone.
The middle aged man was fed up. He retorted, ‘what happens if I just take the machine back and we forget the whole sorry fiasco’. ‘Then the monthly payments would stop. But, your doctor….’ At that point the middle aged man hung up, packed up the cpap, and returned it to the local AeroCare franchise.
The moral of the story? Avoid AeroCare unless you enjoy surprise charges and fees that aren’t explained to you when you sign up for their ‘service’.
UPDATE: AeroCare emailed a receipt for the machine I returned and when it arrived the file was corrupted. So I called to get it again. Lo and behold, their system doesn’t allow emails to be sent twice… so I have to traipse down to their office and get a hard copy…. They’re ridiculous.