THE RHETORIC OF FAMILIARITY AND CONTEMPT IN JOB 2:9-10
AbstractResponding to my 1998 article “Three Failed Dialogues from the Biblical World,” Professor Moshe Greenberg suggested that by translating the imperative mut in Job 2:9 “Drop dead” I offended Job’s wife, Hebrew Scripture, and my readers. The offense was to make Job’s wife speak not the language of higher education but that of a fishwife or wastrel. In fact, both Greenberg’s defence of Job’s wife and my attribution to her of foul language are strongly represented in biblical translation and exegesis from antiquity to the present. Moreover, the examination of the history of the interpretation of both Job’s wife’s use of the imperative mut and of Job’s referring to her words as appropriate to one of the nebalot shed important light on the rhetoric of familiarity and contempt. This subject is certainly most appropriate for an essay in honor of the foremost scholar of biblical rhetoric, Yehoshua Gitay.
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