Job: a cosmic drama (table reading)

Yesterday, I taught my last bit of fresh content for the semester. In my ‘Old Testament’ class, I end with the Book of Job. In fact, this last week I’ve used the Books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job to summarize our discussions because as I’ve written in other posts, rather than building the course around the canon of the Tanakh/Old Testament simply because it’s canon, I’ve chosen to build it around the traumas that I believe inspired the writing, editing, and collecting of many of these texts that would eventually be canonized: the Babylonian Exile and the subsequent occupations by the Persians, Ptolemies, and Seleucids.

Job stands in contrast with not only the Book of Proverbs, but also the Book of Deuteronomy, and many of the other texts that argue for a kind of karmic, cause-and-effect view of reality, where the righteous who do good will be blessed and the wicked who do evil will be cursed. I end with this to exhibit how the texts we have read aren’t all in unison all the time. Instead, they create a dynamic conversation about God, our origins, our purpose, or teleology, and more. And while there’s some key agreement—most notably the superiority of Israel’s God—there’s also a whole lot of diversity. Job itself seems like a inter-canon critique of other parts of the canon. Or, as I framed it for my students, Job is the dissenting voice in the roundtable conversation we call the Bible.

But since I can’t expect my students to read Job in its entirety (though we did read key excerpts), I needed a way to get them the gist of the book. So, I turned Job into a script for a drama and I had my students do a ‘table read’. This was one of the most enjoyable exercises of the semester. My students really owned it and at times there was a lot of laughter as certain personalities played their roles. If you’re interested, I’ve uploaded a PDF version of the script. Remember, I’m not script writer but it got the job done:


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