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Biblical Responses: Past and Present Retellings of the Enigmatic Mrs. Job

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Her namelessness, her uneventful fulfillment of maternal duties, her short and unclear speech, and her departure after the second chapter of the book of Job have piqued, rather than quelled, interpreters' interest in Job's wife throughout history. This article first describes what little we can glean about Mrs. Job from the 'original' Masoretic Text (MT) and then tracks Mrs. Job's appearance in two post-biblical retellings: the ancient Testament of Job and a contemporary short story, “Job's Jobs,” by Aimee Bender. These retellings seem to be, in their own ways, addressing three important questions: “what kind of relationship does she have with her husband Job?,” “what effects do Job's series of tests have on her life?,” and “why might Mrs. Job have said such surprising and seemingly terrible words to her husband amidst his suffering?” It is suggested that the retellings respond in consonant ways—particularly through their development of her relationship with Job, the suffering she experiences because of his tests, and her various speaking parts. Because the similarities are found in more than one retelling, the article argues that readers can rightfully return to the biblical source material, in order to query whether the Bible implied those questions in the first place and to use their interpretations to re-read the book of Job, proffering a rich, viable, and alternative literary interpretation for the character of Mrs. Job.

Affiliations: 1: University of Virginia


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