H.B. Lit: Book of Job

, aka “the most controversial, irreverent, and

daringly subversive pages of the Bible” –William Safire

Instructor: Amy Erickson, Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible

Draft Syllabus (updated 3/21). Note: Canvas has the most comprehensive and up-to-date account of course goings-on.

Image result for blake book of job


The Bible (NRSV)

Newsom, Carol A. The Book of Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations . New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

A note about the articles I've listed: most of the titles (if not all of them) are available through Iliff's digital databases ( Primo and ATLA/EBSCO Hos t). If you are not familiar with the process of searching and finding academic articles, this is an excellent opportunity for you to learn. If you have any trouble navigating the on-line world of academic resources, get in touch with the library staff; if there's a particular article you can't get hands on, email me, and if I have it in my files, I'll be happy to share it with you.

Choose ONE from among the following (five):

[ note: after Gathering Days, you'll be working on your book in a small group, so wait until you know which book group you're in to purchase - the sign up sheet will be available the first Monday of class (March 25) ]

--Safire, William. The First Dissident: The Book of Job in Today’s Politics .  New York: Random House, 1992. [ISBN 067974858X]

--Gutierrez, Gustavo. On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent . Translated by Matthew J. O’Connell. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1987. [ISBN 0883445522]

--McKibben, Bill. The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation . Cowley Publications, 2005. [ISBN-13: 9781561012343]

--Wimberly, Edward P. Claiming God: Reclaiming Dignity—African American Pastoral Care .  Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. [ISBN 0687030536]

--Negri, Antonio. The Labor of Job: The Biblical Text as a Parable of Human Labor . Durham: Duke University Press, 2009. [ISBN 0822346346]

Exegesis Paper

Your paper should consist of 1000-1300 words (approximately four pages) on a passage from the book of Job.

The paper is to be a focused essay demonstrating careful study of the passage chosen by the student. I recommend students limit the length of their passage to about 10 verses. Students are to identify the methodological approach or approaches (at least broadly construed) they are employing, then demonstrate the use of that method in their exegesis. In my view, it would be wise to limit yourself to one primary method.

Students are expected to engage the scholarly literature related to their chosen passage by making reference to at least one scholarly monograph (book), at least two commentaries (guide is linked*), and at least two scholarly journal articles. The library staff will happily help you find such items.

*What not to use: single authored, whole-bible-commentaries (as in one guy wrote a commentary of every book, e.g., Matthew Henry)

Papers exceeding 1300 words will be frowned upon (i.e., your grade will be adversely impacted). Word count is to include all notes. Please include your word count at the end of your paper.

Group Presentation

Students will work in groups to plan, prepare, and practice the assignment collaboratively. The end result will be a video recording that is no more than 10 minutes in length, posted to canvas. All group members will be responsible for participating in the conversation that follows.

Step 1 (at Gathering Days): Choose roles

--Project Manager: Plans group meetings, works with IT if necessary, communicates with instructor (if you have a slacker in your group, you must tell me about it), edits the script.

--Writers of the script

--Producer of the video (for the technologically confident). This person will be responsible for making the slides and the recording (note that all students in the group should review the video before submission)

Step 2: Discuss the book in small groups (some combination of zoom calls, in person / zoom meetings, email threads, canvas small groups, and google docs)

  1. The perspective of the interpreter.
  2. The interpreter’s thesis about Job.
  3. The way in which the interpreter builds on the biblical book of Job and takes it in new directions.
    1. Does the perspective bring something valuable - something previously unseen or under seen - to your understanding of the book and its relevance? Describe the author’s contribution.
    2. What gets lost or over-simplified in this reading of the book?
  4. New insights you gained into Job and/or the problem of suffering.
  5. Whether this interpreter helped you think about your own experience in new ways.

Step 2: Identify key learnings to highlight in your presentation.

  1. Describe the writer’s thesis and illustrate it with a key quotation or two. The aim here is to describe the way in which the author of the book interprets Job and deals with the problem of suffering.
  2. Describe the ways in which this author’s response to the problem of suffering is similar to or different from the response to suffering in the biblical book of Job. The aim here is to identify the way in which an interpreter of Job builds on the biblical book and takes it in new directions.
  3. Identify new insights into the biblical book of Job and/or the problem of suffering that occurred to you as a result of reading this book.

Step 3: Produce the written plan, including a script, for the video presentation

Step 4: Submit that plan to the instructor

Step 5: Post the recorded group presentation (7-10 minutes) to Canvas

Step 6: Participate in an asynchronous Q&A and discussion session

Platforms that have work well for students to record and present their materials: Present.me (https://present.me/content/) and Knovio (http://www.knovio.com/). https://screencast-o-matic.com/

I highly recommend using the rich history of the book’s interpretation in the visual arts to enliven your presentation!

Course Overview


Course Objectives

Exegesis Paper. 40%

Group Presentation. 30%

Participation. 30%

I will be asking you to self evaluate your participation. At the end of quarter, you will submit your reflections on your participation in the weekly discussions and suggest a grade for yourself. I will consider your assessment in light of what I've witnessed, then I (as the instructor who has final say on these sorts of things!) will decide on your final grade for discussion participation. 

Self Evaluation

1. Quantify what I asked you to do in terms of forum participation, then tell me how many posts and responses you made over the course of the quarter.

2. Tell me about the quality of your posts and the depth of your engagement with your peers.

3. Tell me how much of the reading you did (you can estimate, of course; give me a ballpark percentage). Please do mention articles and readings that were helpful or that you particularly enjoyed or did not at all enjoy.

4. Talk to me about what you learned in this course. My assumption is that learning happened if you have more and better questions about the study of religion than you did when you came in. So what questions do you have now that you didn't have before you started the course? What topics and questions might you want to pursue in other courses or further reading?

Then throw all those ingredients into a grading blender and give me a letter grade. 

Attendance and on-line course participation policy

Posts to discussions that have ended will not be accepted. The point is to have conversation. If you don't show up for the conversation when it's happening, you miss out. Posting just for my benefit defeats the purpose.

If you miss more than the equivalent of two weeks worth of discussion forums (more than 20% of the course), you will fail the course. It is required the you attend Gathering Days. https://iliff.bloomfire.com/series/3206014/posts/2819851-attendance-and-special-days

Other assignments submitted late are marked down at the rate of a grade per day.

No incompletes.

Mar 26, 2019TueBook Choices: Job's Interpretersdue by 05:59AM
Mar 27, 2019WedIntroductionsdue by 05:59AM
Mar 30, 2019SatThe Book of Job, Overviewdue by 05:59AM
Apr 03, 2019WedThe Prose Frame due by 05:59AM
Apr 03, 2019WedFocus Texts: Job 1:1-5, 1:6-12, and 2:7-10due by 05:59PM
Apr 04, 2019ThuFocus Text Summaries - Job 1-2due by 02:59PM
Apr 05, 2019FriProf E on Job 1-2, 42due by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2019SatReceptionsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 10, 2019WedThe Dialogue: Job's Friendsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 10, 2019WedFocus Texts: Job 4:12-21 and 8:11-22due by 05:59PM
Apr 11, 2019ThuFocus Text Summaries - Job 4 & 8due by 02:59PM
Apr 12, 2019FriProf E on the Friendsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 13, 2019SatReceptionsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 17, 2019WedThe Dialogue: Jobdue by 05:59AM
Apr 17, 2019WedFocus texts: Job 3:1-10 and Job 19:13-22, 23-27due by 05:59PM
Apr 18, 2019ThuFocus Text Summaries - Job 3 & 19due by 02:59PM
Apr 20, 2019SatReceptionsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 22, 2019MonProf E on Job 3, 19due by 05:59AM
Apr 24, 2019WedElihu’s Speeches, God’s Speeches, The Epilogue (Gathering Days)due by 07:00PM
May 07, 2019TueExegesis Paper, Draft due by 05:59AM
May 09, 2019ThuExegesis Paper, Peer Reviewdue by 05:59AM
May 12, 2019SunExegesis Paper, Final Versiondue by 05:59AM
May 28, 2019TueJob's Interpreters Presentations Duedue by 05:59AM
May 30, 2019ThuParticipation Self Evaluationdue by 05:59AM