Book by Prof. Scott Jones Analyzing Job 28 Published
Rumors of Wisdom: Job 28 as Poetry by Associate Professor of Biblical Studies Scott Jones has been published by Walter de Gruyter. The book offers a new reading of the poem, with new insight into its chief metaphor.
Representing a substantial revision of Jones’ doctoral thesis, Rumors of Wisdom "was going to be a reading that was as full-orbed as possible, that took into account all the various things about the poem that make it good,” says Jones. “That allowed me to work really hard at being thorough and describing what I see going on in the poem instead of simply trying to push a thesis about what I think the whole thing is arguing.”
A new thesis emerged nonetheless. Jones found a new lens through which to view Job 28 while reading selections of Mesopotamian literature. Though most had interpreted the imagery of the biblical poem as pertaining to mining technology, he saw it as the description of a quest for great treasure in the tradition of Gilgamesh and other ancient works of the Near East. While Gilgamesh seeks immortality, the quest of Job’s poem is for wisdom. “The overall message is still very similar,” says Jones, “but I think this interpretation makes a lot more sense out of the words in the poem, and I think it does more justice to the poem itself and gives you more of an insight into how the poem builds up its meaning.”
Although his new interpretation does not greatly alter the meaning of the poem, the way the poem accomplishes its meaning is fundamentally different. “One of the most important things about poetry is that it’s not simply reducible to a proposition,” says Jones. “How it gets to its meaning is just as much a part of the meaning. What metaphors it uses, what language it uses and the experience of reading it, is very much a part of how poetry means what it means.”
Jones notes that in the course he teaches on the Psalms, Rumors of Wisdom has already come into play. “It presents a fundamental view about how biblical poetry works that I use to try and get students to approach the book of Psalms as a book of poems that have to be approached as poems.”
Jones hopes the book will show the value of approaching poems in the Bible as whole and complete works. “Hopefully the book will show that it is indeed a profitable task, and something that can be very useful for biblical exegesis.”