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This study in the use and reuse of a classic tale makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the medieval mind. It offers, too, a reading of the Book of Job that, unlike most, takes into account its style and structure.
Lawrence Besserman examines the apparent meaning of the biblical account—what the author meant to say about the reason for or purpose of Job’s trials and eventual reward. He follows the evolution of Job as emblem of patience. Examining especially Old English writing and fourteenth and fifteenth century French and English poetry, he demonstrates Job’s appearance in medieval poetry and iconography as a prophet or antetype of Christ. Two dozen illustrations help the reader watch this new conception of Job emerge. The analysis adumbrates the modern portrayal of Job as righteous rebel against a cruel god.
This history of the Job legend has never been told before. Besserman does it lucidly and concisely, with judicious selection of examples.