Week 5: The Triumph of Monotheism and its Consequences
1. Christine Hayes on Monotheism (excerpt from Lecture 2) (link)
This is a terrific summary of the work of Yehezkel Kaufmann in the 1930s on the difference between polytheism and monotheism. I’ve always considered it compelling.
2. JSB, the Book of Job.
If you’re not willing to read the whole book, the essential parts are: Job 1-2, 42:7-17 (the prose envelope); Job 3 (Job’s lament); Job 21:7-26 (Job insists that the wicked do prosper); Job 22:1 through 24:25 (Eliphaz’s third speech and Job’s response); Job 27:1-6 (Job commits himself to righteousness); Job 38-42:6 (the denouement of the poetic part).
The prose envelope contains one answer (by implication) to the question of why righteous people suffer while the poetic central portion offers another from the mouth of God. Can you produce a one-sentence version of each answer?
3. (optional) JSB, the Book of Ecclesiastes.
This very short and very un-biblical book appears to us very modern. How it ever came to be within the canon is a real mystery. Note that the final verses, the only ones mentioning God, are the addition of a later editor.