donderdag 21 februari 2013

Review of: James A. Wharton, Job (Westminster Bible Companion), Westminster John Knox, 1999; in: Interpretation

James A. Wharton, Job (Westminster Bible Companion), Westminster John Knox, 1999.

Review in: Interpretation 2001 55: 84
Review door: Carol A. Newsom
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by James A. Wharton
Westminster Bible Companion. Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 1999.
191 pp. $16.95 ISBN 0-664-25267-2.

"CAN THERE BE A HUMAN BEING of such incorruptible integrity toward God and people that not even the worst imaginable experiences of life are capable of shattering it?" (p. 19). With this question, Wharton sums up the governing question of the Joban prose tale and outlines the perspective through which he reads the whole book. The introduction presents a brief but clear account of the structure of Job and the reasons it has often been understood as a composite work. It also indicates how one may read the book meaningfully as a whole.

The commentary departs only once from a simple sequential order. To help the reader grasp the structure of the friends' arguments, Wharton treats all of Eliphaz's speeches (chs. 4-5,15,22) together following Job 3. Although one cannot speak of a consensus in the interpretation of Job, Wharton's reading follows largely established hermenéutica! paths. Job's persistent integrity, his conviction of ultimate vindication, and his vindication by means of God's answer are hallmarks of Wharton's interpretation.

One can tell that Wharton has taught the book of Job often. He knows instinctively where to pause to explain the unfamiliar, where to address readerly resistance, and where to reflect on the difference between the theology of Job and the theology of Christian appropriation of the book. If there is a shortcoming in his commentary, it is that it too quickly moves past some of what might be most disturbing in the book. Stressing Job's conviction of ultimate vindication can distract from the rawness of his accusations against God; stressing the function of the divine speeches as vindication of Job can shortchange their utter strangeness. But Wharton always urges the reader to form her own conclusions. Of all the available commentaries on Job for lay readers, this is the one I recommend to my students. Pedagogically and interpretively, it is an excellent example of the genre.

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