Janus Parallelism in the Book of Job: A Review of Scott B. Noegel’s Work

Abstract: Janus parallelism is a recently discovered tool evident in ancient Hebrew poetry. Like the two-faced Roman god Janus, Janus parallelism employs a Hebrew word with two meanings that faces two ways. One meaning of the word relates to the preceding text while the other meaning of the word relates to the following text. Examples of such wordplays have been found in many parts of the Old Testament, though the Book of Job appears to be especially rich in these sophisticated puns.1 A valuable tool for exploring the richness of Janus parallelism is Scott B. Noegel’s detailed work, Janus Parallelism in the Book of Job (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 2009), where over 50 examples are considered. His book can greatly strengthen our appreciation for the intense and clever wordplays in Job, a book laden with puns and semantic artistry. In many cases, important new layers of meaning are revealed by understanding the long-overlooked wordplays in Job’s many Janus parallelisms.
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Job: An LDS Reading

Editor’s Note: This article is drawn from a chapter in a volume edited by David R. Seely and William J. Hamblin entitled Temple Insights: Proceedings of the Interpreter Matthew B. Brown Memorial Conference “The Temple on Mount Zion,” 22 September 2012 (Provo, UT: The Interpreter Foundation/Eborn Books, 2014). The book will be available online (e.g., Amazon, FairMormon Bookstore) and in selected bookstores in October 2014.

In response to questions arising within God, Job, described as blameless and upright, is thrust from idyllic circumstances into a dark realm of bitter experience. Three “friends” unwittingly press Satan’s case, attempting to convince Job to admit guilt. Job, however, holds on, searching for God’s face and progressing toward a transformed understanding of God and man, which is brought to strongest expression in four great revelatory insights received by Job. Finally, Job commits himself to God and man with self-imprecating oaths. After withstanding a final challenge from Elihu/Satan, Job speaks with God at the veil and enters God’s presence. Many points of contact with the temple support the thesis that the book of Job is a literary analogue of the endowment ritual. Continue reading