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Job and Deutero Isaiah: The Use and Abuse of Traditions

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he similarities between Job and Deutero Isaiah have been used to argue for a relative chronology. These kinds of arguments are problematic; nevertheless, noting quotations and allusions when they do occur is of great value in interpreting the quoting or alluding text. For example, Fishbane's explication of the allusion to Ps. 8:4-6 in Job 7:17-18 sheds light on Job's attitude toward the psalmist's view of humankind's status in the created order. Literary theorists have noted similar kinds of allusions, called “reflexive” or “dialectic” allusions, in which one text alludes to another such that the alluding text “smears” the source text and the value systems of the two texts compete with one another. Allusions fitting this description have been noted with regard to Job, both in individual texts and in the genre of the book as a whole. I argue for two further allusions of this kind to Deutero Isaiah (Job 9:4, 8 and 12:9). In both cases, the author of Job uses words to describe God that are the same as or similar to those used by Deutero Isaiah, but with a profoundly different effect on the reader. He effectively sets up a competing way to interpret the same picture that Deutero Isaiah paints of God and God's action in creation. Henceforth, readers who note the similarities experience the Deutero Isaiah texts as “smeared” by the texts in Job. Recognizing the allusions fills out our picture of the elusive author(s) of Job and his attitudes toward familiar traditions and texts.

Affiliations: 1: Calvin Theological Seminary;, Email:


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