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No one knows who wrote the Book of Job, whether it was the work of one or several authors, or even where it was written. But that hasn’t prevented Job from becoming a touchstone of religious thought, posing the most important question for anyone who believes in a compassionate God, or really in any kind of higher power: How does God allow evil to befall the righteous? And if evil is not punishment for the wicked, why does evil exist? Beginning with its pre-Christian beginnings and then winding through a host of interpreters including Maimonodes, Aquinas, Kant, and Blake, to a sort of climax around the Shoah, Mark Larrimore’s The Book of Job: A Biography reviews Job’s reception as it is transformed by the forces of historical change. A seamless combination of theology, philosophy, textual analysis, and narrative history, Larrimore’s biography is a cogent example of early-21st century interdisciplinarity. But for all his interdisciplinary fireworks, Larrimore never loses sight of the anger and despair at the root of Job’s anguish. In the process of historical contextualization, Larrimore eventually comes to embody and relive that anguish, transforming a scholarly analysis into a prophetic rendering of the tortuous events we have come to accept rolling across our screens 24/7. The Book of Job A Biography isn’t only a new way to think about Job, it’s a new Job: an unflinching contemporary restatement of the fury and doubt and submission that refuses to accept the fallen world as the only world.

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