Michael Wogman. Moses, Author of Job: Defending the Biblical God in the Roman East

Moses, Author of Job: Defending the Biblical God in the Roman East

By Michael Wogman

(Moscow State University)

Source: Judaica Ukrainica 2 (2013): 21–41

Publication date: December 1, 2013

Publication type: article

Language: English

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Abstract

Interpretation of Job was existentially important for Late Antique Judaism, faced with the problem of useless suffering on the one side, and with Gnostic challenges on the other. Although most amoraic reactions to it underscore Job’s fault and God’s justice, it seems to be more motivated by anti-Christian polemics, rather than fundamental answer to the questions posed by Job. Still, the association of the book with the authority of Moses implies some other answer to Job, which can be reconstructed from midrashic depictions of Moses and Hellenistic traditions of Job as the mystical seer. Analyzing Job’s influence on both pre-tannaitic apocalyptism and the Talmudic portrait of Moses, we are able to grasp a reading of Job as a theophanic story about an intimate meeting with the Godhead. The rabbis who attributed Job to Moses implied by this ascription a new vision of the world, within which no positive theodicy was possible; instead, a personal relation with capricious and powerful Creator was to be sought by means of Judaic practice.

 

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