Honors | Job, from the bible to Kafka
H303 | 24550 | Herb Marks


An intensive eight-week exploration of the difference
between "justice" and its imperfect embodiments, mortality and law,
as presented in the biblical book of Job and subsequent texts in the
Job tradition. We shall be looking at different models of justice
(e.g., retributive versus distributive), at suffering as a criterion
of righteousness, and at the competing claims of ethics and
aesthetics. This will be a course in interpretation at the
boundaries of language, and thus in the inevitability of falling
short.

The first month will be devoted to a close reading of the text of
Job--called by context (including biblical and ancient Near Eastern
parallels) and to the rich tradition of biblical commentary, ancient
and modern. In the second month, we shall be focusing on a set of
modern works--most notably King Lear, the drawings of Blake, and
Kafka's The Trial (along with lighter fare, from Robert Frost to
legal theory)--which effectively reconfigure the biblical questions
and paradoxes.

No specialized knowledge or previous study of the Bible is required.
Students will write a brief exercise in biblical commentary (due at
the end of the fourth week) and a final paper.