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Wisdom as an Immanent Event in Job 28, Not a Transcendent Ideal

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Abstract Job 28 poses several interpretive difficulties: its reflections about wisdom seem disembodied and misplaced within the dialogue; its content, especially the final verse, seems ill-fit for the issues the book raises. Much interpretive discomfort with the poem stems from the misconception that it presents human inaccessibility to wisdom in opposition to God’s accessibility. By reassessing the poem as moving rhetorically from a metonymic (in vv.1-19) to a metaphoric logic (in vv.20-28), this article demonstrates that wisdom is displaced throughout the poem—from humans, God, and creation. Job 28 primarily opposes two different ways of relating to this displaced wisdom: the metonymic search that evokes wisdom as perpetually transcendent, versus the discovery of wisdom in metaphoric effects that appear as displaced from their causes. This reinterpretation enables more nuanced readings of v.28 as an appositive metaphor, and of the poem’s displacement in the book as appropriate to its teachings about wisdom.

Affiliations: 1: Appalachian State University


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