Ironic depiction of being wise in search of Wisdom : a socio-rhetorical study of the Elihu speeches in Job 32-37

Musa, Hassan (2018-03)

Thesis (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2018.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This dissertation is an investigation of the socio-rhetorical function of the Elihu speeches in the book of Job. We have also discussed how many scholars in the historical interpretation of the book of Job identified crucial areas of serious concern that still relate to the authorial, literary and theological problems of the book of Job. These areas include the poem on wisdom (Job 28), the speeches of Elihu (32-37) and the speeches of Yahweh (38-42:6). But our focus has been on the Elihu speeches which help us to see the irony of the depiction of being wise in search of wisdom within the interactions of Elihu and Job primarily. We have indicated in our statement of the problem that there has not been much interest in the study of the book of Job especially in African contexts and by African scholars, thus we thought it wise to pick up the challenge of attempting to contribute to filling that vacuum. Our hypotheses point to the expectations on the role of irony as a new cutting edge to the understanding of the meanings of wisdom, suffering and justice. That irony plays a vital role in our understanding of the role of God in human suffering and the question of justice in the book of Job. In order to provide an adequate study that would be satisfactory to our investigation of the Elihu speeches, we found Robbins’ (1996) guide to socio-rhetorical interpretation useful in leading us into the multidimensional aspects of the Elihu speeches. Thus we used it as a guide (not a strict manual to be slavish about) in our study as evident within our various chapters. Chapter 1 provides the background to the study in relation to the writer’s home (traditional) background which in a sense mirror’s the patriarchal context which highly values social and religious orders. It further provides information as to the problem, methodology, hypotheses and conceptualizations for the study. Chapter 2 provides a survey of the book of Job in relation to its history of interpretation. Chapter 3 is an intertexture of Job 32-37 towards the literary study of the inner texture and patterns of the Elihu speeches. Chapter 4 is the intertexture of Job 32-37 which shows how the Elihu speeches interacted within other texts in the world that form their contextual rhetoric. Chapter 5 is the sociocultural texture of Job 32-37 which provides information about the social and cultural texture of the Elihu speeches and represents the formative (composition/ compilation) context of the Elihu speeches. Chapter 6 is the ideological-theological texture of Job 32-37 which presents the function of the Elihu speeches toward an interpretation in service to power as well as its sense of spirituality (consciousness of the divine and the sacred). Chapter 7 provides the summary/conclusion and recommendations for further studies. The contributions that this dissertation has made to Old Testament scholarship especially in African contexts in regards to Job scholarship is on the fact that we have demonstrated how socio-rhetoric can be utilized as a useful method in Old Testament biblical and theological studies. Furthermore, we show the dual function of the Elihu speeches in the book of Job both as a response and as a preparation. We have also demonstrated the role of irony in the depiction of being wise in search of wisdom especially about Elihu as a main case in point in his conversation with Job and other friends about Job’s experience of suffering and his quest for justice and dignity. It is a cohesive attempt that bridged the gap between the sections of the book of Job and its essential characters. It also represents how traditions (in Postexilic contexts) emerged at a critical point in a given context and opened especially the reader to further understanding of the progressive nature of traditions in the Old Testament.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie proefskrif behels `n ondersoek na die sosio-retoriese funksie van die Elihuredes in die boek Job. Die fokus val ook op die historiese interpretasie van die boek Job wat aandag skenk aan belangrike sake wat verband hou met die kwessie van outeurskap, sowel as literêre en teologiese vraagstukke. Sommige van die hierdie vraagstukke is: die gedig oor wysheid (hfst 28), die Elihuredes (hfste 32 – 37), sowel as die JHWH-redes (hfste 38:1 – 43:6). Die klem op die Elihuredes sal bydra tot die oorweging van hoe wysheid op `n ironiese manier uitgebeeld word. Dit vorm deel van die deurlopende uitbeelding van wat wysheid behels – met besondere aandag aan die interaksie tussen Elihu en Job. In die probleemstelling word onder andere aangetoon dat daar weinig aandag aan die boek Job deur Afrikateoloë in verskillende Afrikakontekste gegee word. Hierdie proefskrif probeer om hierdie gebrekkige aandag vir Job aan te spreek. Die hipoteses verwys na die moontlike rol van ironie as `n vars benadering tot die verstaan van wysheid, lyding en geregtigheid. Verder word ook voorgestel dat ironie `n deurslaggewende rol speel in ons verstaan van die rol wat God speel in menslike lyding en die vraag na geregtigheid. Teen die agtergrond van hierdie vraagstelling en hipoteses is Vernon Robbins (1996) se benadering tot die sosio-retoriese interpretasie as bruikbaar vir die Elihuredes beskou, sonder om dit bloot slaafs na te volg. Hoofstuk 1 bied die aanleiding tot en die agtergrond waarbinne die navorsing uitgevoer was. In die hoofstuk is aandag geskenk aan die skrywer se tradisionele agtergrond wat oënskynlik `n patriargale konteks weerspieël wat besondere waarde aan sosiale en godsdienstige ordelikheid heg. Verder word verduidelik wat die proefskrif se probleemstelling, hipoteses, metodologie en konseptualisering behels. Hoofstuk 2 verskaf `n oorsig van die struktuur en interpretasiegeskiedenis van die boek Job. Hoofstuk 3 bespreek die intratekstuur van Job 32 – 37 deur middel van die literêre studie van strukture en patrone binne die Elihuredes. Hoofstuk 4 behels die studie van die intertekste van Job 32 – 37 waarin aangetoon word met watter netwerk van tekste die Elihuredes resoneer. Hoofstuk 5 fokus op die sosio-kulturele tekstuur van Job 32 – 37 wat inligting verskaf oor die sosiale en kulturele bedding waarbinne die Elihuredes gevorm en saamgestel is. Hoofstuk 6 verleen aandag aan die ideologiese en teologiese tekstuur van Job 32 – 37 waartydens aangetoon word hoe interpretasie ook in die boek Job in diens van mag geskied het, asook die verdere bewussyn vir die sakrale en die goddelike as komponente van spiritualiteit. Hoofstuk 7 bied die samevatting en gevolgtrekking, asook voorstelle vir verdere studie. Die bydraes van hierdie proefskrif tot Ou-Testamentiese navorsing, veral binne Afrikakonteks, lê binne die demonstrasie van hoe sosio-retoriek as `n bruikbare metode binne die Bybelse en teologiese navorsing van die boek Job benut kan word. Vervolgens, toon die proefskrif aan hoe die Elihuredes beide as `n reaksie op voorafgaande en voorbereiding tot die daaropvolgende dele in in die boek Job funksioneer. Daar is ook aangedui dat die rol van ironie in die uitbeelding van hoe om wys te wees en op soek na wysheid te wees `n belangrike rol binne die gesprek tussen Elihu en Job vervul. Ironie dra by tot die verstaan van hoe Job se ervaring van lyding en sy soeke na geregtigheid en waardigheid tot uitdrukking kom. Dit dui ook aan hoe tradisies (veral in posteksilliese kontekste) na vore getree het en die leser sensitief gemaak het vir die progressiewe aard van tradisies in die Ou Testament.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/103302
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