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  • You Have Not Spoken What Is Right About Me: Intertextuality and the Book of Job
  • James L. Crenshaw
You Have Not Spoken What Is Right About Me: Intertextuality and the Book of Job, by Yohan Pyeon. Studies in Biblical Literature, 45. New York: Peter Lang, 2003. 239 pp. $65.95.

Current interpreters' fascination with intertextuality has found yet another champion in this slightly revised doctoral thesis from Claremont Graduate University under the direction of James A. Sanders. Its appearance the same year as Carol Newsom's masterful analysis of the biblical book of Job from the perspective of intertextuality will naturally lead to comparison, pitting a seasoned scholar against a novice. In The Book of Job, Newsom draws extensively on M. Bakhtin, E. Levinas, J. Derrida, P. Ricoeur, W. Booth and a host of others to illuminate the biblical classic. By contrast, Pyeon limits himself to the initial round of debate between Job and his friends, plus the divine assessment in 42:7-8, while drawing inspiration from his mentor and other biblical scholars, especially Richard Hays.

The introduction (pp. 1-41) examines some recent commentaries on the book of Job, especially those by F. Horst, G. Fohrer, S. Terrien, N. Habel, M. Pope, D. Clines, and C. Newsom. Each of these is praised for certain features but criticized for failing to employ proper method and restricting their observations to linguistic affinities within the biblical book itself. By proper method, Pyeon means intertextuality on two levels (within a given book and within the larger canon). Astonishingly, he thinks biblical scholars have ignored this second level; actually scholars will remember copious examples of intertextual analysis. The name André Robert stands out in this regard, but a number of Catholic interpreters have mined the Bible for citations, and numerous others have studied specific books from this perspective (I mention only S. Bergler, "Joel als Schriftinterpret," BEATAJ 16 [Frankfurt am Main: Verlag Peter Lang, 1988]). Moreover, most form-critical studies give close attention to linguistic affinities within the larger canon and beyond (for an example, see my Hymnic Affirmation of Divine Justice [Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975]). Earlier works simply did not use the buzz word "intertextuality." Regrettably, Pyeon's selection of commentaries to illustrate past research has glaring omissions, E. Good's In Turns of Tempest, one of the most stimulating treatments of the book of Job that has been written, E. Dhorme, A [End Page 164] Commentary on the Book of Job, a genuine classic, and J. Lévèque, Job et son Dieu, among others. For a dissertation, moreover, the book has limited footnotes and little dialogue with scholarship.

Chapter Two addresses the problem and method. What enables God in 42:7-8 to commend Job for correct speech about the deity and to condemn the friends, who from all appearances have spoken truthfully? The answer: the interrelationship of the speeches, their direct connections through exact vocabulary that echoes an earlier voice. Such reading, Pyeon argues, provides the justification for the "somewhat ambiguous" divine action in chapters 1-2 (I doubt that Job's children and servants would qualify the adjective in this manner). Divine pedagogy that involves murder of innocents cannot be justified by increased knowledge acquired by the target of instruction.

As for method, Pyeon opts to ignore the midrashic third level of intertextuality represented by D. Boyarin in favor of an approach that J. Sanders and M. Fishbane employ. He proceeds by examining a speech, then moves to the second level of intertextuality, before offering an interpretation. Like R. Hays, he tests intertextual links on the basis of availability, volume, recurrence, thematic coherence, historical plausibility, history of interpretation, and satisfaction. The focus falls on the text and reader, not on the original author, and on the dialogical connection synchronically and diachronically.

The next seven chapters are devoted to an intertextual analysis of the first cycle of speeches. In each instance Pyeon offers a translation with notes, an analysis of the unit, consideration of the text on the first and then second level of intertextuality, and interpretation. Like R. Alter and M. Fishbane, he recognizes the central role of Job's initial complaint, together with the divine...


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