AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

A Quest for Coherence: A Study of Internal Quotations in the Book of Job

by Edward Ho

Institution: McMaster University
Degree: PhD
Year: 2012
Keywords: Book of Job; Coherence
Record ID: 1970763
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/11375/15374


The book of Job is well-known for its internal tensions. The major challenge of interpreting this work is to provide a coherent reading of the whole narrative while giving the conflicting elements their due. The purpose of this dissertation is thus twofold. First, this study seeks to defend the intrinsic cohesiveness of the book of Job. Second, it attempts to demonstrate that a reading guided by these internal verbal and thematic connections is able to produce a coherent meaning of this literary masterpiece. This dissertation offers a section-by-section reading of the book of Job. In each section, I conduct a two-phase analysis. In the first phase, I identify the literary connections between the passage under study and those which come before it, and reflect on the way the antecedent texts are being reused. In the second phase, I discern the impact that the insights from the first phase of analysis make upon the reading process of the passage under study and examine how the resulting interpretation contributes to the development of the story up to that point. In order to facilitate the discussion, I borrow some insights from literary critic James Phelan, who views narrative as rhetoric. Phelan argues that the author of a narrative cultivates the interests of the reader by means of two types of unstable relations. The first, called instabilities, are those occurring within the story, conflicts between characters, created by situations, and complicated and resolved through actions. The second, called tensions, are conflicts ofvalue, belief, opinion, knowledge, expectation between the author and the reader. The development oftensions and instabilities in tum guide the reader to establish a coherent configuration ofthe narrative. This dissertation demonstrates that a satisfactory reading experience of the book of Job can be attained at both the narrative and the rhetorical levels. The analysis reveals that the central problem ofthe book is appropriate religious expressions in the context of suffering. Thesis Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)