René Girard did not always write about the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (HB/OT), but when he did, one of the texts he chose to focus on was the Book of Job. 1 This was during the 1980’s when Girard had already established himself as an internationally acclaimed literary critic whose anthropological ideas had made a decisive impact beyond his immediate disciplinary area of expertise. Girard’s associated mimetic theory about different forms of desire and mediation, as well as his views on religion, violence, sacrifice and scapegoating in society were all brought to bear in an applied anthropological literary-critical reading of one of the most difficult of biblical texts.2 Soon, theologians,3 prominent HB/OT scholars4 and leading researchers on biblical wisdom literature5 took an interest in Girard’s work, considering it sufficiently relevant to offer Girard a platform for further collaboration.6 For many Girard’s book on Job was timely, providing as it did interested HB/OT scholars with additional warrant for privileging socio-literary concerns with more traditional historical-critical ones. Additionally, Girard’s work was considered by many to represent a more agreeable way to join the latest academic trends related to the political turn in literary criticism, even if only as a pretext to address the apologetic concern with violence in the Bible.7
Of course, the challenge Girard had issued, insisting that, to the best of his knowledge, he was the first in the history of interpretation to focus primarily on the human cause of Job’s suffering (as the true cause) was soon met with mixed responses.8 After all was said and done, even before the 1990’s Girard’s reading of Job had been deemed worthy of inclusion in the relevant sections of leading commentaries on the book.9 The situation eventually inevitably changed somewhat, and already towards the end of the first decade of the 21^st^-century, the application of Girard’s ideas were no longer in touch with the latest developments in research of the Book of Job.10
As part of an update on the status of the reception of Girard’s reading of Job in HB/OT scholarship, but also as an original contribution, the research problem this study seeks to address is constituted by a gap in the available data with regard to some very specific cross-disciplinary connections. The research question that arises as a result concerns the ways in which his interpretation of the text compares to trends, trajectories and theories in HB/OT scholarship and in philosophy of religion at the time.11 The assumption of the study is that the ways in which biblical and philosophical theology had been co-existing in various forms of overt tensions and covert relations contributed to the neglect of this particular reception-historical aspect of Girard as exegete.12
Consequently, the objective of this study is to present a multi-dimensional reception-historical account of Girard’s reading of Job at the intersection where varieties of HB/OT scholarship supervening on his anthropological literary criticism meet the concepts, concerns and categories of Christian analytic philosophy of religion as these appear to be implicit his own reactions to Continental philosophy’s turn to theology and religion. Based on the findings resulting from the aforementioned, a comparative-philosophical critique of the hermeneutical and exegetical fallacies perceived as present in the meta-religious-philosophical framework of Girard’s reading of Job along with a meta-commentary using Girard’s theoretical framework on Girard’s own reading of Job will conclude the discussion.
The relevance of such a reception-historical reconfiguration from within HB/OT operating in tandem with philosophy of religion lies in the new awareness it creates regarding the complex and paradoxical conditions of possibility that must be postulated to account for why Girard wrote a book about Job in the way he did, or why he wrote about Job at all. The limits of the inquiry aimed at clarifying as much as at critique are those posed by the challenge faced by anyone seeking to do justice in restating Girard’s influential ideas on their own terms, even if not in them.
2. Girard’s Job and HB/OT scholarship
There is no general scientific method in the reading of biblical texts. One is always adopting the currency (jargon) of a particular auxiliary discipline, be this philology, linguistics, literary criticism, historical criticism, social-scientific criticism, the science of religion or various forms of theology. Along with each come supervening sets of philosophical assumptions that set limits on the kinds of concepts, concerns and categories that can be constructed and concurrently generates a series of hermeneutical and exegetical fallacies at risk of being committed. There are also the supervening cross-disciplinary implications of any new developments in the auxiliary subjects which can be distinguished on the level of method in biblical criticism but never fully separated in the hermeneutical process itself. Since approaches, like Girard’s anthropological variety of literary criticism is thus partly dependent on the findings of other forms of biblical criticism, a reception-historical account of the kind envisaged here requires the identification of related lower and higher-order biblical-critical variables. Each of the following can therefore be seen as co-constitutive in the construction of Girard’s central theoretical argument in Job: the victim of his people and in the way certain contents of the book are emphasized to reconstruct the postulated residual religious truth latent the text’s manifest contents, i.e. that moral (human) as opposed to metaphysical or natural evil is the efficient and proximate cause of Job’s suffering.13
Text-critical variants represent one reason why Girard’s reading of Job is ultimately as problematic as it is potentially profound. What makes Girard’s handling of the textual data theoretically insecure from a text-critical point of view is his piecemeal approach to ancient and modern versions. This in conjunction with the implied existence of a hypothetical oral tradition or written Vorlage, the existence and authenticity of which are required by his anthropological framework. Girard’s Urtext is a product of circular reasoning in the sense that it is available only as a simulation for which the existence and identity conditions supervene on formal and stylistic criteria both generated by his theoretical framework and also appearing as its reconstructed outcome. The assumption and conclusion about the real cause of Job suffering as human is then added as the thematic element of the explanatory framework, not merely for source and redaction-critical purposes but also for text-critical considerations pertaining to questions of scribal corruption and the ideology of translation. So encompassing is Girard’s philosophical anthropology that it is used to eradicate any anomalies concordantly generated by associated scholarly reconstructions of text now appearing as chapters and sub-sections of chapters that readers of the HB/OT encounter as the "final form" of the Book of Job.14
Linguistically, Girard did not read Job in the Hebrew (except with the aid of a translator and colleague) and thus could not independently reflect on how his theoretical framework fared in light of specialists’ attempts to render what has a reputation for being the most difficult of all biblical texts to negotiate in translation.15 Girard’s reading of Job is heavily but selectively dependent on the rendition of certain chapters in the book as translated in the second revised edition of the Jerusalem Bible.16 The latter, an originally a French dynamic-equivalent translation, was accordingly more concerned with representing meaning on the level of broader ideas at work in a verse rather than that of individual words.17 Hence a close reading of the text was never really possible, exponentially increasing problems associated with the fact that translation is already interpretation. The indeterminacy of the former and the underdetermination of theoretical data for the latter is never really accepted as grounds for epistemic humility but rather combined as a warrant for Girard’s anthropological reduction. When Girard thus appeals to the translated text in his attempts to clarify perceived ambiguity, vagueness and fuzzy concepts via the terms and conditions of his meta-language, supervening questions of grammar, syntax, semantics and pragmatics again make it difficult to distinguish what is problematic from what is profound.
In the context of literary criticism of the HB/OT, for someone whose specialises in this field, it is strange but not altogether unexpected that Girard in the capacity of an apologist does not first discuss the metaphysics of fiction supervening on anthropological literary theory before moving on to present his reading of Job.18 Yet philosophical comments do appear every now and then. Girard both rejects and mimics the synchronic agenda of structuralist readings popular at the time.19 Thus while he objects to its Platonist and essentialist notion of "clear and distinct ideas", Girard’s central thesis is intended to be aesthetically co-ordinated via the same structuralist popular division whereby Chapter 19 is identified as the centre of the final form of the book.20 This is ultimately the (Christian) chapter which Girard privileges as its core, along with Chapter 16, even as his diachronic awareness allows him the liberty of rejecting the aesthetical effect of the structuring of the canonical composition as a whole. Since Girard’s central argument concerns the suffering caused to Job, according the character’s own testimony, by other people, Girard does not limit himself to a text-immanent reading and frequently jumps back and forth between different ontological domains involved in the worlds of, behind and in front of the text. Though admitting Job and his issues might operate on a more purely fictional level, Girard believes the situation of the Job of the dialogues probably represents the actual experiences and mind of the real author.21
In the context of historical-critical approaches, Girard’s anthropological reading of the poetic sections featuring the dialogue between Job and his friends is happy to depend on some of the critical-realist presuppositions, problems and perspectives of the day. 22 Here Girard is "liberal" in the sense of being quite comfortable with regard to the detection of the presence of multiple sources, traditions, forms and redactions along with allowing for the possibility that the problems pertaining to historicity are the result of a lack of sufficient overlap between the world of and behind the text. 23 But Girard the conservative and apologetic shines through when what otherwise appear as additions, inconsistencies, duplication, contradictions and disconnections in Job’s speeches are ultimately harmonized. Girard does this by refusing philological explanations of the disorder and insisting that, whenever Job either contradicts himself or sounds just like his friends, or vice-versa, this is exactly how a psychologically traumatised individual would talk according to his theory of mimetic desire and violence. This allows Girard to bracket historical-critical concerns and retain the canonical texts as it stands whilst offering a unified error theory for apparent composition-critical confusion. 24 Girard even goes further, using the findings of his anthropological reading to reconstruct the historical profile and Sitz im Leben of the author as a statesman whose career has been destroyed. 25 Philosophically, Girard thus shares the historical-critical assumption that the relevant axiological status of the world constructed in the sacred text is decided by the particular logical status of the reference in fictional discourse in relation to the ontological status of religious experiences in the world behind the text.
With reference to social-scientific approaches to the Book of Job,26 Girard does not seem to have been interested in seriously considering the findings of already existing psychological and sociological approaches in biblical criticism.27 In the context of the OT and anthropology, Girard also conflates two very different intra-disciplinary domains occupied by the semantic field of the homonym "anthropology" in biblical interpretation. One is a more traditional sense, based on the etymology of the word and still found in the context of theological approaches to the text. Here the concern is the folk-psychological and metaphysical assumptions in a given piece of biblical discourse about what a human being is. This includes HB/OT views on multiple-realizability in the sense of a concern with textual assumptions about the interaction of mental and physical states. Other foci include how a person was assumed to relate to the community, the deity, and to life as a whole (including vague notions of life after death). 28 The other sense in which the word anthropology is used in research on the HB/OT in general and on the Book of Job in particular is with reference problems and perspectives in cultural anthropology.29 Here anthropological biblical criticism, also called cultural anthropology of the HB/OT, is often seen as functioning at the intersection of HB/OT theological views of the person on the one hand and associated ideas in social-scientific readings about honour and shame, in and out-group contexts, and general social-psychological religious topics on the other. Analogous to the way Girard’s reading of Job seeks to offer a harmonizing solution to different historical-critical perspectives, it also attempts to slot into both kinds of anthropological foci in HB/OT scholarship. Here too a critical-realist framework supervenes on Girard’s the transworld of the text ontology of social relations. The result is a metaphysics of fiction wherein Girard’s social-scientific construction of what it meant to be human, though purporting to be descriptive, is ultimately revisionary.
With reference to the history of Israelite religion and comparative Ancient Near Eastern religions, conspicuously absent from Girard’s reading is a discussion of the relevant parallel mythological motifs and moral assumptions in the Book of Job. 30 Girard does not consider as relevant for in-depth discussion what he would have been introduced to and what HB/OT scholars specialising in "wisdom literature" would note via correlation and contrast about other pious sufferers who were victims of their people or in dialogue with those who oppress (in Akkadian and Ugaritic prose and poetry).31 Girard’s choice of comparative contexts is reminiscent of a bygone tradition in 19^th^-century biblical studies which sought to relate, distance and assert itself vis-à-vis Greek literature, all of which are found wanting in terms of any overlapping insights when pitted against the Job he has distilled from the accrued and confused myth which we have before us now.32
With reference to contemporaneous issues in the then current debates in HB/OT theology, the 1980’s saw many publications on topics as diverse as problems pertaining to method (including the opposition to Greek and philosophical categories), the question of a "centre" of the canonical OT, OT theology’s relation to the history of Israelite religion and comparative ancient Near Eastern religious, theological pluralism in the HB/OT, the relationship between the OT and the NT, Jewish-Christian relations in reception history, the place of narrative in theology, etc.33 Because "wisdom texts" in the HB/OT that do not refer to salvation-historical events have been neglected in biblical-theology for being too "pagan" and "natural-theological" in general (with verbatim parallels to other ancient Near Eastern sayings, maxims and aphorisms) and too little idiosyncratically Yahwistic to be counted as special revelation in particular.34 opposing wisdom (as play) and philosophy (as dogma). Also H. H. Schmid, Wesen und Geschichte der Weisheit, BZAW 101 (Berlin: Topelmann, 1966). Wisdom was seen as humanistic, a pejorative term also in Girard’s reading of Job and as reflected in the title of the popular and provocative work by American OT theologian in Walter Brueggemann, In Man We Trust (Richmond: John Knox, 1972). Other local and contemporaneous works that interact with philosophy include James L. Crenshaw, Studies in Ancient Israelite Wisdom (ed. J. L. Crenshaw; LBS; New York: KTAV, 1976). For the retake on Job in a theological context since Girard within Anglo-Saxon Christian readings, see Katharine Dell, The Book of Job as Sceptical Literature. BZAW (Berlin/New York: De Gruyter, 1991).] Perhaps hereby a gap was created wherein Girard could bring Job, a sceptical almost anti-theological text, back into contention. Yet while Girard’s reading inevitably reduces the manifest theologies of the Book of Job to a latent Girardian anthropology, this does not lead to Feuerbach’s atheism from within the apologetic diversity of Francophone liberal Catholicism.35
In the context of reader-response and ideological criticism, the place from where Girard reads Job sees "ideology" as something mainly related to scapegoating and not omnipresent.36 At least not in the malignant sense he attributes it to whatever opposes Job and his reading of the book.37 Additionally, Girard’s apologetic anthropological account is founded on a series of very particular, sometimes useful, but mostly unstable binary oppositions between himself and other interpreters of the text, Jewish and Greek authors, biblical and philosophical representations of social phenomena, religion and morality, liberals and conservatives, faith-based readings and humanistic secular ones.38 In these binary terms the fullness of the greatness of the revealed truth of the Book of Job was only able to be discovered with the aid his anthropological theory in literary criticism. That the scroll might itself have been written by a member of the scribal elite and from the perspective of someone who neither was nor ever were either poor or a victim is categorically denied. Nor does Girard seem to notice the way the binary oppositions and anti-dogmatic trajectories in the book tend to deconstruct themselves.39
These approaches do not represent an exhaustive list of supervening interests and foci. One could certainly elaborate on and qualify what was said here, and also mention other contemporaneous elements in other popular approaches to the Book of Job back in the day. These might include research in other approaches in each of the forms of biblical criticism mentioned above, along with post-colonialist, gender, post-modern and other varieties of interpretation. That being said, one only has so much space for an outline and overview in this context and with this in mind what was noted must suffice, at least for the present.
3. Girard’s Job and philosophy of religion
Most HB/OT scholars in general and Joban specialists in particular would not have considered reading Job as a "philosophical" during Girard’s heyday. Yet all who have written on HB/OT theology and on how Job is not what this or that philosophical assumptions or frameworks or categories of someone else have led them to make of it could not avoid offering philosophical commentary either. A prior engaging in covert comparative-philosophy is and will always be a condition of possibility for opposing Joban theologies and philosophical ideas.40 The fact is that Girard is not first and foremost discussed as a philosopher in general or one of religion in particular, even though the philosophical aspects of his anthropological variety of literary criticism and his reading of religious texts like the Book of Job have been duly noted.
It would seem that, on the one hand, Girard’s explicit use of concepts, concerns and categories in Anglo-Saxon analytic philosophy of religion of the type in the American contexts where he worked is minimal. On the other, without being "post-modern" and even while being critical of the associated differential ontologies, Girard’s reading of Job is supervened on by religious-philosophical aspects in his writings on violence, desire and the sacred, all of which imply some familiarity with "Continental" thinkers’. Those who reflected on religion and whose concepts, concerns and categories are present in one way or another, include, inter alia, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Emmanuel Levinas, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida and others.41
In the above sense, and also in the secondary sense of interacting with systematic theologians and HB/OT scholars who themselves are more influenced by Continental philosophical currents (phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, post-structuralism, deconstruction) than analytic ones, Girard’s writing on Job can be reception-historically located against the larger conceptual background of Continental philosophy’s (re-) turn to religion in the twentieth century.42 Perhaps also in the tertiary sense of Girard’s style or rhetoric being more similar to stereotypes of Continental than to analytic modes of expression, lacking as it does rigorous argumentation, impersonal remarks and decompositional conceptual analysis. Even so, Girard’s comments on Job, as well as those of the HB/OT scholarship he engages with, cannot but reflect something similar to analytic philosophical theology’s own turn to more specifically Christian conceptual puzzles in fashion the during the same period.43 Since no reception-historical attempt has been made to show the various over- and underlaps, this section will attempt restate what Girard’s remarks on Job appear to imply in relation to the associated analytic religious-philosophical capita selecta.44
On the concept of religion in Job, Girard is not really up against the fact that the word is not found in the Hebrew text of Job. Yet much of Girard’s account of and his philosophical assumptions about the nature of religion are not difficult to discern. Negatively, he rejects secular humanist reductive religious-scientific definitions, specifically those seeking to demystify it as essentially a psychological (as in Freud) or sociological (as in Durkheim) phenomenon.45 Yet Girard seems to do something similar in his own anthropological reductive remarks on religion in the Book of Job when he claims it can be "defined" (presumably essentially) "as the mimetic adoption of the actions and language of everyone “, and such in relation to the scapegoat (mechanism) and as evolving from the process of ritual.46 The cultural-anthropological reduction is not only evident in the meta-language used in the definition but in the references to the religious “dimensions" of Job’s discourse, "primitive religion", "the religious sense to which the friends and society cling’, and something being the case “on the religious plane", while ultimately saying that religion is culture itself (even when the relation is not assumed to be recursive).47
On the nature, meaning and reference of religious language in Job, Girard never uses these terms in so many words.48 Yet he does refer to the language or speech in the Book of Job about what is considered sacred. More specifically and by inference, as regards the nature of religious language, Girard distinguishes between its manifest and latent content. The former is the superstitious and offer criteria for falsification while the latter is social and political the truth claims regarding which can be verified.49 Job’s religious language is therefore equivocal rather than analogical or univocal, the reference to the divine and the metaphysics of causal relations presupposed therein are for the most part symbolic rather than literal, hiding the mimetic dimension by transfiguration the mediated desires through the sacred dimension regulated by the scapegoat mechanism. It is therefore both possible and necessary to translate the religious aspects of the language into their political counterparts with an eye to the way mimesis and scapegoating accounts for why divine causes in Joban society are the way they are, or why they are at all.50
With reference to religious epistemology, religious knowing and the justification of religious beliefs along with other contemporary issues of interest (e.g. evidentialism and religious disagreement) are central in Girard’s concerns.51 Not in so many words, but his book on Job presupposes the religious beliefs are and can be justified and even have the status of knowledge on the condition that it is supported by evidence of mimetic desire and scapegoating at work and in such a way so as to be able to account for the specifics of religious disagreement whose causes are thus accounted for. This pertains more to the reader than the characters in the text or to the author and audience in the world behind it. Their religious beliefs are not warranted in this way and while they are rational in the sense Girard predicts their coherency in relation to ritual and culture, what we see in ancient times is expression but not conscious awareness of the actual social and political criteria and causes of belief and disagreement.52
Concerning the nature of God,53 Girard rigidly assumes that the God of the victims he salvages from Joban religious language has no equivalent among the Greeks. This is not considered open to question and the question is cast as one of Hellenism/Greek thoughts vis-à-vis biblical Jewish/Christian thinking. Bracketing the historical consciousness that the Book of Job might compare anachronistically to his notions of maximal greatness and great making properties, whatever does not fit this concept of God in the text is considered as representing a devolution from an obscured original notion his theoretical framework allows him to discern amidst seeming unorthodox ideas about deity in the words of Job chooses to quote selectively from. In typical Continental philosophical fashion, no arguments are presented for his version of theism here ascribed to the core of Joban theology itself. Girard also does not elaborate on the philosophical-theological nitty-gritty of his conception of the divine nature, attributes and relations or at least try to look for a more historically-conscious correlation and contrast between his God of the victims and the literary constructions of divinity in the Joban discourse. In fact, in contradiction to the entire reading, he claims that, ironically correct at least here, that the Job character is not someone concerned with talking about the attributes of God with his friends.54
Girard rightly assumes that the Book of Job is not about arguments for or against the existence of God. Yet as has been noted his apologetic for the truth of the biblical text is supposed to imply that in its correctly identifying God as the God of the victims its doing so is itself an argument of sorts.55 In this sense too he follows the Continental tradition of philosophical interest in religion which, instead of trying to determine or interpret texts with an eye to what its presupposes about why a specific deity was assumed to be a living god he takes the fact that the concept of the divine or sacred has observable effects in culture and is therefore an anthropological (not in a humanist sense) reality, the arguments for and against are beside the point, out of place or of no interest.
In relation to the problem of evil, it is noteworthy that this theme is noted verbatim in Girard’s book on Job on several occasions. 56 Each instance shows Girard operating in the tradition of biblical scholars and others who read the Book of Job as though it wants to tell us something related to this problem, but not in terms of the "metaphysics of evil"57 and thus without the philosophical-theological window dressing Girard also explicitly expresses a reluctance to make a distinction between metaphysical and moral evils which he feels is partly based on the way suffering is presented in the prologue. For Girard, even if not in so many words, several axioms are implicit in Job’s religious language: evil exists, the Book of Job is about moral evil and the need for a theodicy is made redundant by flipping it into a crisis of anthropodicy. On this point it is implied that the form the problem of evil takes in Job is an epistemological rather than a logical version. Moreover, evil is equated with a metaphysics of causal relata in with Job himself presenting us with a "magnificent definition of the divine as transcendent expression of collective violence.."58
Other issues in philosophy of religion’s Capita Selecta such as the relation between religion and culture and religion and morality59 supervene on the three dominant religious philosophical concerns in the aforementioned paragraphs, most attention to which is to anthropological concerns related to problems regarding the nature of religion, religious language and the problem of evil. Yet Girard’s conception of ethics is well known as based on a view that it is something over and against the category of religion since moral philosophy as a continuation of the scapegoat mechanism. As for the way religion relates to science, in his publication on Job, Girard does not discuss but implies that religion and science are two different domains altogether. In this sense they are not assumed to be incommensurable and can co-exist in harmony, here presumably with reference to second-order thinking in the world behind the text, mythological elements in the world of the text and methods of interpretation in the world in front of the text. Also, religion is inextricably linked to history and the problem of historicity is both real but relativized by appealing to what is considered a universal and perennial religious phenomenon whereby the facts qua facts that matter are anthropological facts and historical persons, places and processes being accidental to the bigger picture in the communication of the associated religious truth.
In Girard’s reading of Job, intra- and inter-religious pluralism is itself both flattened by demystification and insistence that the same mechanism and mimesis is present in all ancient religion which is not superstition. Since the biblical texts like the Book of Job, but only on Girardian terms even if not in them, rather than the Greek or contemporary analytic or humanist philosophers of religion, have the right view of God, both inclusivism and exclusivism are operative on different levels and as thesis and anti-thesis are synthesized into a form of tiered pluralism with pride of place going to biblical texts like Job precisely because they are all about religious disagreement and juxtaposing both the victim and his interlocutors. And with Girard identifying layer upon layer of additional religious diversity and dissent, this problem in philosophy of religion is for Girard’s anthropological reading of Job both a condition of its own possibility and for the error theory covering the impossibility of essential disagreement with itself.
In sum, in Girard’s reading of Job, faith and reason are neither enemies nor simply friends, and there is also no reason why reason should make room for faith. The apologetic mode implies tha reason is a handmaid of faith as in the medieval Catholic tradition of Aquinas and others. Other issues of interest to analytic philosophy of religion in the Western Christian tradition such as life after death is for better or worse not discussed in the same way while associated concepts such as revelation is reduced to the truth of the biblical revelation of the Girardian scapegoat mechanism. The theophany of the character of the deity presented in chapters 38ff is not taken as actual revelation and the question of divine inspiration does not arise as in the older dogmatic tradition. Yet for Girard, there are indeed levels of biblical inspiration and conceptions of revelation, the highest forms showing the truth of the biblical text in the sense of being an indirect testimony to human cultural causes and operations behind our ideas of the sacred, of suffering, of society and of self.
4. Comparative philosophical critique and Girardian meta-commentary on Girard’s reading of Job
In this section I shall attempt to present a critical synthesis the findings of the reception-historical overview combining perspectives from HB/OT scholarship and analytic philosophy of religion. More specifically, at the intersection of the disciplines Girard’s reading of Job could be faulted for, on the one hand, having committed a number of associated comparative philosophical fallacies.60 On the other hand, it is even possible to argue that Girard’s reading of Job has not been Girardian enough, that alternative Girardian readings of the biblical text are possible and that one can even offer a Girardian meta-commentary on Girard as reader which leads to a somewhat surprising if paradoxical conclusion whereby if Girard’s ideas about mimesis, desire, mediation, scape-goating and the like are correct, they demystify his reading to the point of a recursive refutation thereof.
First, based on the distinction between descriptive and normative varieties of the discipline,61 Girard’s reading of Job assumes that the scattered authentic elements he identifies in the book have as criteria for their existence and identity the same anthropological concepts, concerns and categories Girard was interested in.62 But to read Job as an expression of the scapegoat mechanism failing and as a victim of communal violence goes beyond what we do know of the literary, social and historical conditions of the book’s conditions of possibility. As for normative chauvinism in Girard, this is evident in his assumption that the biblical traditions are superior and others (both intra-biblical cases as well as ones in Greek literature) are inferior simply because they are different.
Of course, Girard will claim that his theoretical framework and its explanatory scope offer the warrant for these judgments. Be that as it may, there are times when his Christian apologetic interests and his investment in his mimetic theory and concept of the scapegoat supervene on his skills as a literary critic of ancient texts and his otherwise well-developed critical-historical consciousness to the point where not even the possibility of metaphysical, moral and logical incommensurability between his own views and those of the book of Job could be seriously entertained.63 At the most basic level where this arises, Girard’s reading never hints at an exegete struggling with indeterminacies in translation or the underdetermination of his theory when restating concepts residual in Job’s first-order religious language into Girardian second-order anthropological meta-language.
As a faith-based interpreter, even a liberal one, there seems to be no awareness in Girard’s reading of Job of levels of epistemological incommensurability between the unstated religious-philosophical assumptions in the world of the text and the Continental philosophical presuppositions, problems and perspectives supervening on his applied mimetic theory. Ancient Near Eastern conceptualisations of both the human and divine condition are so radically different from Girard’s Job as a statesman feeling scapegoated and his God of the victims that one will not find much in terms of a culture-shock on the part of the Girardian reader in relation to Joban theologies. Whatever is alien and does not fit the anthropological and Christian frame of reference is instead rejected on the same grounds.
The ease of relating the deity as a disjointed character in the world of the text in Job to theologies in the NT is equally problematic from a religious-historical and therefore comparative-philosophical perspective. Girard’s anthropological acumen notwithstanding, the inability to appreciate the fact that the meta-theistic assumptions in the book of Job, even reduced and redacted Girardian style, were pre-Christian in terms of their conceptions divine goodness as a property of the deity. Religious-historically, no-one in the world of the text or the one behind the text of Job assumed that an entity has to be omnibenevolent in the sense of never intentionally committing cruel acts towards victims on an individual or collective level in order for it to be worshipped as divine.64 Consequently, the book of Job as the HB/OT itself is not concerned with a problem of evil in the sense philosophers of religion are but with justice in the context of ditheistic and henotheistic meta-theistic assumptions supervened on by ancient Near Eastern political, legal and other metaphors for divinity used in the construction of its first order religious language.65 The only problem in the world of the text with some bearing on the matter was one of justice, but this cannot be reduced to a question of social justice. On the one hand, identifying the cause of suffering in society as only human, even if correct, is not so in the fictional world of the text and a reduction of theology to anthropology in Girard’s own religious way ends up picking and choosing so much from the book of Job that one wonders if his otherwise profound ideas would not be better off without trying to rope the Bible into their service.
Perhaps the decisive instance of comparative-philosophical incommensurability in Girard’s reading of Job is the equally unthinkable scenario (to him and Joban scholars who uncritically endorse his views) that the ancient Israelite and modern Christian religious traditions might not even share the same religious epistemological and informal logical assumptions we do in regards to the nature of belief justification, evidence for truth claims in religious language or even conditions for adjudication in religious dialogue or with reference to religious diversity. But the first-order religious language in which Job presents his case clearly shows that Girard’s reading is indeed utterly anachronistic in this sense, for there are no shared criteria so easily to be stipulated whereby his anthropological literary-critical reduction of Job and the complex character in the world of the text can be meaningfully compared and the latter criticized.
Another comparative-philosophical pitfall that is inconsistently present and absent in Girard involves his mixed relations with "perennialism". On the one hand, Girard implies the opposite when dissecting layers of diachronic belief revision and intrareligious diversity within ancient Israelite religions. Indeed, Girard’s own reading of Job, his anthropological literary criticism, his reception in HB/OT scholarship and the comparative-philosophical frameworks supervening on his comparisons between Hebrew and Greek thought also have histories. This makes it both easy but also tricky to clarify and criticize exactly what the pros and cons of Girard’s reading are. Yet not for him it seems – at least on those occasions where he keeps finding "golden threads" in the theological and anthropological variables running from the Book of Job to his own book on Job. Yet perhaps the best illustration of the presence of this and the other comparative-philosophical fallacies in the religious-philosophical framework supervening on Girard’s biblical-hermeneutical assumptions as to how the Book of Job should be read can be provided by applying his mimetic theory of religion to his own reading in a deconstructive variety of meta-commentary.
On his own account, Girard unconsciously seeks to imitate the saints as biblical interpreters with special insights, but the doctors of the Catholic Church like Augustine or Aquinas are not his living rivals and pose no peer threat. Occupying the same space and time are, on the one hand, are biblical scholars and philosophers of religion, both conservative and critical, whose ideas are rivals to what his hypothesis predicts about the worlds of, behind and in front of the text. Moreover, he lives in a day and age where anthropological approaches in theology and biblical studies are models being mediated and others are in the limelight when Girard himself has already established himself as a philosophical anthropologist par excellence and a Christian one at that. And he was not invited to the party with Job as the theme.
What better conditions exist for what was external mediation to become internal and for Girard as both an academic victimized Job and a new and even best interpreter of Job than both the character Job, the books authors(s) and all the lay and expert readers in the history of its reception. Having revealed things hidden from the foundation of the world of the text in Job, Girard’s ultimate desire of the religious object can only be fulfilled by offering a reading of the text that supplants instead of supplement the competitor’s views. Only Girard can speak what is right about God, with Job a distant second and the friends, ancient and modern being in the wrong and having to sacrifice their opinions, status and just about everything else. Girard is an individual, but Girardian readers are a mob unto its own that not even the voice of the whirlwind can bring to silence or repentance.
Having discovered the Joban biblical scholar’s equivalent to the ancient philosophical quest to identify the prime matter and come up with a unifying theory in cosmology – by analogy Girard now claims that everything in the worlds of, behind and in front of the text is ultimately reducible to different configurations of Girardian mimesis, desire and violence (scapegoating, victimization), by, through, of and for Girard. On Girard’s own account then, his reading of Job is a result of his own mimetic desire having grown to an extent whereby he desired to be and mediate a theologically and anthropologically profound Girardian Job. One is reminded of Nietzsche’s saying in another context:
"Life as the product of life. However far man may extend himself with his knowledge, however objective he may appear to himself - ultimately he reaps nothing but his own biography."66
And with all due respect to Lacan, in writing on this text he had one job, just the one, and that Job was to make Job into the Job that Job would’ve wanted from someone with his job. Of course, if one accepts this demystification of Girard’s reading of Job, it may be retorted that not only is this exactly what his theoretical framework would predict, thus vindicating it in the context of biblical scholarship. Moreover, description is not refutation. The problem here is more than just a difference in opinion as to what such a Girardian critique of Girard might mean. In my view, a Girardian based meta-philosophical meta-commentary of Girard’s own reading of Job can be taken to show the workings of deconstruction in a literary-critical sense. Alternatively, one may think of a recursive anomaly generate in the form of a veritable Russellian class-type paradox. Here Girard the biblical interpreter can only be considered to be successful as such if his religious-philosophical presuppositions, problems and perspectives are also correct. But if they are, not only is Girard’s reading of Job not Girardian enough to have a chance of being correct, Girard as implied author of the meta-commentary and implied reader of Job is himself inevitably demystified as a victim, not of his people, but of his reception.
The reception-historical reconstruction provided in this study was able to clarify, compare and criticize some parts of the religious-philosophical tain of the biblical-hermeneutical mirror in Girard’s reading of Job. As such it demonstrated the ongoing reception-historical reconfigurations of Girard reading of Job from within HB/OT scholarship operating comparatively in tandem with philosophy of religion.
From the side of biblical scholarship, Girard’s work can be better clarified, complimented and criticized by way of a contextualising of his engagement with the problems related to the Book of Job in terms of text-critical variants, linguistic considerations in translation, literary-critical analysis of the structure of the book, traditional historical-critical interests in the sources, traditions, and redactions of the text, the social-scientific point of entry conflating two ways of discussion anthropology in the HB/OT, the relative lack in engaging available research on the comparative history of Israelite religions, a one-size fits all relation to the major problems in 20^th^-century OT theology and a strange mixture of self-critical awareness and naiveté in the context of insights of reader response and ideological criticism.
From the side of philosophy, while Girard was not a philosopher, his familiarity with voices in the Continental tradition and biblical scholarship’s relatively greater acceptance of that tradition in its methodological considerations while concurrently being concerned with the issues of interest in analytic circles, made it seem worth our while to attempt to restate some of Girard’s assumptions these on their own terms, even if not in them. Included were what Girard’s reading of Job, for better or worse, partly justified or clearly mistaken, appears to imply about what the text assumes (or not) in relation to our concerns about the nature of religious language, religious epistemology, the attributes of God, the various forms of the problem(s) of various sorts of evil as well as the relation between religion and history, culture, morality amongst other things will be included.
As a supplemental meta-commentary to the discussion of Girard’s place in the philosophical reception of the Book of Job a few comparative-philosophical fallacies were identified as present in the reading as thus reconstructed. These included, on the one hand, Girard’s claims about the Book of Job and matters pertaining to incommensurability and perennialism. On the other hand, a Girardian meta-commentary on Girard’s reading of Job was employed to show how, when his theoretical framework is assumed as a working hypothesis, Girard’s reading of Job not only comes across as not Girardian enough, it also comes at a paradoxical price, containing as it does the seeds of its own demystification, evident in the deconstructive operations generated by the recursive logic governing its second-order discourse.
In sum then, the study identified the neglected combined biblical and philosophical-theological conditions of possibility and the associated biblical-critical and religious-philosophical presuppositions, problems and perspectives that can be postulated as present within Girard’s anthropological literary-critical reduction of Job. The relevance of this particular reception-historical configuration lies in its ability to restate Girard on his own terms, even if not in them, thus providing a critical supplement to existing research aimed at a better understanding of why, in the world of Girard’s text on Job, these things were the way they were, or why they were there at all.
Much has already been written on Girard and the HB/OT in general and in relation to the book of Job in particular, especially in reception histories from the 1990’s onwards. In this contribution, the author attempts to offer a new perspective on Girard’s reading of Job by showing its location in the intersection where his own anthropological literary criticism and the methods of HB/OT (Joban) scholarship on the one hand meets the turn to theology in Continental philosophy and the issues of interest in analytic philosophy of religion on the other. This complex and multi-dimensional reconstruction is followed by a few critical comparative-philosophical remarks and the conclusion that the particular reception-historical restatement of Girard on his own terms, even if not in them, provides a necessary supplement to our understanding of why he wrote about Job in the way he did, or why he wrote about him at all.
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On Job, see classically René Girard, Job: The Victim of His People (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987). The original French version can be found in idem., La Route antique des hommes pervers (Paris: Grasset, 1985). Others include texts from the Pentateuch (the Joseph novella), Deuteronomistic History and the Psalter, all chosen for their perceived expression of the concepts and concerns associated with Girard’s theology of victimhood. Michael Hardin (ed.), Reading the Bible with Rene Girard: Conversations with Steven E. Berry (Lancaster: JDL Press, 2015). ↩︎
The English translations of Girard’s works have had the most impact among HB/OT scholars where those fluent in French remain a minority. Consequently, Girard’s preconditioning for and theoretical framework applied to the Book of Job draws on ideas from earlier publications, including René Girard, Deceit, Desire and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972); Violence and the Sacred. Translated by Patrick Gregory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977); Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with Jean-Michel Oughourlian and G. Lefort (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987); The Scapegoat (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986). ↩︎
See Raymund, S.J Schwager*, Must There Be Scapegoats? Violence and Redemption in the Bible*, trans. by Maria L. Assad. (New York: Crossroad, 1987[German original, 1978]) and Scott Cowdell, Chris Fleming, Joel Hodge & Matthias Moosbrugger (eds), Rene Girard and Raymund Schwager: Correspondence 1974-1991, trans. Chris Flemming & Sheelah Treflé Hidden (New York Bloomsbury Academic, 2016). ↩︎
See Norbert Lohfink (ed.), Gewalt und Gewaltlosigkeit im Alten Testament. (Freiburg: Herder, 1983), 48 noting his indebtedness to a colleague in systematic theology who wrote on the subject of violence in the context of a biblical theology that included both Testaments and cited Girard’s earlier related research on the subject. ↩︎
Leo G. Perdue & W. Clark Gilpin (eds.), The Voice from the Whirlwind: Interpreting the Book of Job (Nashville: Abingdon, 1992). Here Girard had the opportunity of contributing several chapters presenting his case like a Job of old against sympathetic and not-so-sympathetic friends in HB/OT scholarship. ↩︎
Before the currently contextualised publication on Job came Girard, "Job et le bouc émissaire," Bulletin du Centre Protestant d’Etudes 35/6 (1983), 3-33. Girard’s work was also given publicity with the acceptance of an article format of his book on Job in a prestigious journal under the catchy title: “The Ancient Trail Trodden by the Wicked: Job as Scapegoat, Semeia 33 (1985), 13-41. ↩︎
For the political turn, amongst others, in literary criticism, see Yvonne Sherwood & Stephen Moore, The Invention of the Biblical Scholar: A Critical Manifesto (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2011). ↩︎
The same edition of the same journal included a critical response to Girard’s claims in order to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue, the interlocutor being Baruch Levine, René Girard on Job: The Question of the Scapegoat. Semeia 33 (1985), 125–33. Others subsequently joining in elsewhere included P. Watté, "La logique de Dieu [à propos R. Girard]", RevNouv 83 (1986), 177–80. ↩︎
See David J.A. Clines, Job 1-20. Word Biblical Commentary 17 (Dallas, TX: Word Books, 1989). ↩︎
For a perfect hindsight overview of related research in Joban reception history see Thomas Krüger, Manfred Oeming & Konrad Schmid & Christoph Uehlinger (eds.) Das Buch Hiob und seine Interpretationen (AThANT 88), Zürich. Kaiser Verlag, 2007). ↩︎
For instance, in the "notes" section in Girard’s publication on Job is a reference to a work on scapegoating by the systematic Swiss theologian Raymund Schwager, a few self-citations, a number of publications dealing with Freudian psycho-analysis and several publications by Jean Racine, among (few) others in Girard, Job: The Victim of His People, 169ff. ↩︎
For the place of philosophy in biblical theology, see James Barr*, History and Ideology in the Old Testament: Biblical Studies at the End of a Millennium* (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000). Barr noted the increasing interest in what he called "social philosophy" becoming more popular in introductory courses to the HB/OT than traditional groundwork related to Hebrew linguistic and philological starting points. This was an admirable admission of error in an earlier underestimating the place of philosophy in biblical theology more extensively recapitulated on in his earlier more comprehensive publication, James Barr, The Concept of Biblical Theology: An Old Testament Perspective (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 146-168. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 3. ↩︎
As David Clines, Job 1-20, p.11 notes: “Since the versions differ among themselves greatly, I thought that one of the responsibilities of a commentator on the Hebrew text was to explain to the English reader how this enormous variety in translation can have been possible, and to attempt to make judgments on the relative validity of the individual translations. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 7, 71, 72. ↩︎
See Girard, Job as the Victim of his people, 12 on the Pleiade edition. ↩︎
See Girard, Job as the Victim of his people, 72 ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 23. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 25, 162. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 95. Otherwise Girard is happy to appeal to formal and stylistic criteria for distinctions between the prosaic prologue in Job 1-2, the dialogues of Job and "friends" in 3-31, the poem of wisdom in Chapter 28, Elihu’s monologue in 32-37 and the divine speeches in 38-41 and prose epilogue of chapter 42. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 127. ↩︎
W.D. Syring, Hiob und sein Anwalt. Die Prosatexte des Hiobbuches und ihre Rolle in seiner Redaktions- und Rezeptionsgeschichte, BZAW 336 (Berlin / New York: De Gruyter, 2003). ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 23. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 26. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 12. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 69. Girard claims the human and social sciences of his day, like former religious thought, remain "Platonic in spirit," in their transformative functions of language. This is ironically partly correct at least with reference to his own inconsistently implied belief in a reality/appearance distinction, essentialism, perennialism and binary oppositions. ↩︎
See the chapters on Job in David J.A. Clines*, Interested Parties: The Ideology of Writers and Readers of the Hebrew Bible* (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995). ↩︎
See classically Hans-Walter Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament, English translation by Margaret Kohl. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1974) for the OT theological context before Girard. ↩︎
See Thomas Overholt, Cultural Anthropology and the Old Testament. Guides to Biblical Scholarship Old Testament Series (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1992). ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 160 and implicit passim. ↩︎
See Clines, Job 1-20, 34, who notes that "The discovery in the present century of many works of ancient Near Eastern literature enables us to view the Book of Job within a wider context than that of the Hebrew Bible. Many individual motifs of the Book of Job are to be found in this nonbiblical literature…". Examples from Mesopotamia featuring dramatic protest, complaint, dialogue and debate and suicidal rhetoric that are not discussed by Girard but popular in his day among biblical scholars include those referred to in J.B Pritchard (ed.), Ancient Near Eastern Texts relating to the Old Testament. ANET 3d ed. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), 142–49, 405–407, 407–10, 434–37, 589–91. For the Ugaritic, see the legend of King Keret in John C.L. Gibson, Canaanite Myths and Legends (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1978), 82-102. Because the author of Job did not use these text verbatim and in view of differences between them and Job, at least some remarks on this could have even strengthened Girard’s associated arguments. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 33-48. Nowadays there is more interest in biblical how the HB/OT is similar to Greek mythology, philosophy and drama. This is partly a return to older voices who attempted to do the same, especially with the biblical "wisdom" texts, and partly in reaction to earlier stereotypes of Hebrew vs. Greek thought. To be sure, not everyone would agree with a return to interdisciplinary research with the classics, be it myth, drama or philosophy, but Girard’s familiarity with and dependence thereon was indicative of a broader set of ideas at work in the society of biblical scholars as well. The same applies for the same section digressing to several dramas of one of France’s leading the 17^th^-century playwrights, Jean Baptiste Racine. ↩︎
See Gerhard Hasel, Old Testament Theology: Basic Issues in the Current Debate (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991) as subsequent additions to earlier 1972, 1975, 1982 and 1987 prints. A more continental take can be found in Henning Graf Reventlow, Problems of Biblical Theology in the Twentieth Century (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986). ↩︎
See Helmut Gese, Lehre una Wirklichkeit in der alten Weisheit (Tiibingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1958); Walter Zimmerli, "The Place and Limits of the Wisdom in the Framework of the Old Testament Theology," SJT 17 (1964), 146-58. Only after his theologies of the Old Testament featuring the historical and prophetic traditions respectively did Gerhard von Rad publish a third volume, see Gerhard von Rad, Wisdom in Israel (Nashville: Abingdon, 1972. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 32 and 152 for the "revelatory" character of the Book of Job and its "great insight". Not to mention the attempt to link Job as scape-goat to Jesus, as on page 162. To be sure, Girard at times opposes his reading to those of "liberals" and "Catholics" (and also to "conservatives" and "Protestants") yet a reader-response contextualisation of his own ideological frame of reference leaves no doubt about his interests in writing about Job in a manner which, thought critical, ultimately makes it even more relevant to the modern secular world of his day than the historical sense of the biblical text could ever be on its own. ↩︎
Cf., inter alia, Slavoj Žižek, The Puppet and the Dwarf: The Perverse Core of Christianity (Michigan: MIT Press, 2003), 25 who describes the Book of Job as providing "what is perhaps the first critique of ideology in human history, laying bare the basic discursive strategies of legitimizing suffering". ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 115, 119, 133. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 23, 41, 112, 162 and passim for whom "readers" are ancient and modern audiences who are always "perplexed", "indignant", "struck" or "scandalized" as they do not prima facie "recognize" the operations of the scape-goat mechanism as Girard constructed the concept. ↩︎
Even though discussions of ideology in the HB/OT were already popular and available in Girard’s day, especially in sociological approaches to Israelite religion, many of the ideas presented here can admittedly only be dated only to after Girard’s publication. Bits and pieces are found in the 1989 commentary on Job by David Clines already noted. More notable discussions would appear in David J.A Clines, Interested Parties: The Ideology of Writers and Readers of the Hebrew Bible. Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series, 205; Gender, Culture, Theory, 1 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), 122-44. An earlier version of the chapter (6) entitled "Why is there a Book of Job and what does it do to you if you read it?" appeared in abbreviated form, as 'Deconstructing the Book of Job', Bible Review 11/2 (April, 1995), 30-35, 43-44. ↩︎
Already pointed out by James Barr, The Semantics of Biblical Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1960), 21. ↩︎
See e.g. Paul Dumouchel, Andreas Wilmes, "René Girard and Philosophy: An Interview with Paul Dumouchel," The Philosophical Journal of Conflict and Violence 1/1 (2017), n.p.; online at http://trivent-publishing.eu/. Other philosophers noted include ancient ones like Plato and more recent ones like Charles Sanders Pierce, Thomas Kuhn and Karl Popper. ↩︎
For the absence of Girard from contemporaneous classifications, see Colby Dickinson, Continental Philosophy and Theology, Brill Research Perspectives (Leiden: Brill 2018). For the analytic-continental divide in philosophy of religion, and assorted styles, problems, nuances and qualifications related to stereotypes and sub-types, see Nick Trakakis, The End of Philosophy of Religion (London: Continuum, 2009). Cf. also Philip Goodchild*, Rethinking Philosophy of Religion: Approaches from Continental Philosophy* (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002) and Morny Joy (ed.), Continental Philosophy and Philosophy of Religion. Handbooks in Contemporary Philosophy of Religion (Dordtrecht: Springer, 2011). ↩︎
On this, and for the absence of Girard once more, see the relevant historical comments throughout works including, Oliver Crisp, A Reader in Contemporary Philosophical Theology (London: T&T Clark, 2009); Thomas Flint and Michael Rea, The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Oliver Crisp and Michael Rea (eds.), Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009); Michael Rea (ed.), Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology, vol. 1: Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009a) and idem., Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology, vol. 2: Providence, Scripture, and Resurrection (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009b). ↩︎
For these contemporaneous with Girard, see James F. Harris, Analytic Philosophy of Religion. Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion 2 (Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002). For the broader reception historical context against which Girard was up against during the 20^th^-century, see Eugene Thomas Long, Twentieth Century Western Philosophy of Religion 1900–2000. Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Religion 1 (London: Kluwer Academic 2001). ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 38, 104. ↩︎
See Girard, Job as the Victim of his people, 160. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job: The Victim of his People*, 59, 74, 132, and passim. ↩︎
According to Walter Vogels, "The spiritual growth of Job – a psychological approach to the Book of Job,"Biblical Theology Bulletin 11/3 (1981), 77–80, and irrespective of the title of this article, what unifies the diverse discourse in the text is a problem of religious language. That is, how to speak of God in the midst of suffering. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 59, 69 and implicit passim. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 23, 132 and implicit passim. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 104, 108, 120, and passim. Not that the terms "epistemology" "epistemological" ever appear. Girard merely refers to "knowledge" of by implication a religious kind or about sacred objects and rites. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 111. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 11. Most of Girard’s ideas on this is explicit but not in these terms. His own description of the book’s theology is predominantly negative- and even atheological in the sense that the conceptions of God in the book representing the divine nature, properties and relations in ways that Girard thinks are not true are considered false. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 11. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 134, 154. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 30, 111, 142. Interestingly, according to Z.R. Friedman, "Evil and Moral Agency. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 24(1/2) (1988):3–20, the problem of evil does not arise in the Book of Job as in later philosophy of religion because of a problem of design but as a problem within the understanding of humans as moral agents. In addition, the cognitive success of the theodicy comes at the expense of the cognitive success of an attempt to discern between good and evil. For a very good wisdom specialist biblical scholarly discussion of the problem of evil and theodicy in the HB/OT by someone who has devoted his entire career to the subject with a definite but discrete interest in philosophical issues, see James Crenshaw, Defending God: Biblical Responses to the *Problem of Evil (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). See his earlier"Popular questioning of the justice of God in ancient Israel” Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft* 82(3) (1970), 380–395. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 111. ↩︎
See Girard*, Job as the Victim of his people*, 138. ↩︎
On this matter in particular and post-Girard, see also Carrol Newsom, The Book of Job. A Contest of Moral Imaginations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). ↩︎
For a good general introduction to comparative philosophy online, see and to which the form but not the contents of the present critique of Girard are indebted, see Ronnie Littlejohn, Comparative Philosophy, The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://iep.utm.edu/comparat/ [accessed on 12 September 2020]. ↩︎
Nussbaum, Martha*. Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education* (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997). ↩︎
The English translations of Girard’s works have had the most impact among HB/OT scholars where those fluent in French remain a minority. Consequently, Girard’s preconditioning for and theoretical framework applied to the book of Job draws on ideas from earlier publications, including René Girard, Deceit, Desire and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1972); Violence and the Sacred. Translated by Patrick Gregory (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1977); Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World: Research undertaken in collaboration with Jean-Michel Oughourlian and G. Lefort (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1987); The Scapegoat (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986). ↩︎
See David Wong. "Three Kinds of Incommensurability," In Relativism: Interpretation and Confrontation, ed. Michael Krausz (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 1989), 140-159. ↩︎
For example, for a more nuanced discussion of the deity’s role in the actualisation of evil in certain textual traditions and theologies, and the associated refinement of the folk-metaphysics of causal relata, see classically Yairah Amit, The Dual Causality Principle and Its Effects on Biblical Literature, Vetus Testamentum37/4 (1987), 385-400. ↩︎
On this, see popularly Mark Smith, The Early History of God: Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990) and idem., The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polyteistic Background and the Ugaritic Texts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001). For a balanced and concise comparative treatment of God in the Hebrew Bible in philosophical terms, see Keith Ward, Concepts of God. Images of the Divine in Five Religious Traditions (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998). ↩︎
See Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits, tr. Richard J. Holingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Section Nine: Man Alone with Himself - Aphorism # 513. ↩︎