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Unformatted text preview: MMW2 Writing Assignment 1 Summer 2008 Length: 46 pages Due date: Thursday, July 3, in section Context: The Book of Job in the Hebrew Bible is the account of a pious man who, as the result of a wager between God and Satan, has been afflicted with terrible suffering. Job is depicted as struggling against a sense of injustice when he tries to understand why he, who has lived a blameless life, should have to endure so many trials. In a sense, the author of the Book of Job can be seen as grappling with an important question of divine justice: will the Israelites' God protect and reward those who live by his rules? Within the Book of Job it is possible to infer different answers to that question. Job's friends express confidence that their deity will reward the virtuous and punish the wicked. They ask, for example, "who that was innocent ever perished?" and point out that "those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same" (New Oxford Annotated Bible, Job 4.78). Job, too, sometimes expresses his faith in divine justice, saying that "though [the wicked] may heap up silver like dust, and pile up clothing like clay-- / they may pile it up, but the just will wear it, and the innocent will divide the silver" (New Oxford Annotated Bible, Job 27.1617). In these passages, the author of the Book of Job implies that what happens in life is the deity's just response to one's actions. In other passages, however, the author depicts Job as a man who feels great bitterness toward the deity. Job laments his fate, arguing that he has done nothing to deserve it and calling on his God to explain to him why he must suffer. He rails against the deity, saying: When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent. The earth is given into the hands of the wicked; he covers the eyes of its judges-- if it is not he, then who is it? (New Oxford Annotated Bible, Job 9.23 24) The deity whom the author of the Book of Job describes in these (and other) verses is unfair and uncaring, content to watch without intervening while good people suffer. It would be useful, when investigating the Israelites' view of divine justice, to analyze the implications of the views expressed by the author of the Book of Job. The assignment: Analyzing the Book of Job, and drawing on material presented in lecture, in section discussions, and in the assigned course readings, propose an answer to the following question: "What view of divine justice is most strongly reflected in the Book of Job?" That is, assuming that the Book of Job reflects its author's view of divine justice, what do you believe was the author's overriding view? To answer this question you should examine closely all of the exchanges between Job, his friends, and God, keeping track of the differing views expressed in the text and deciding which view seems to you to predominate. As you develop your answer to the question (your thesis), make sure that you include supporting material from the Book of Job, either by quoting directly or by paraphrasing or summarizing the text. You may take into account as many of the characters, conversations, and events depicted in Job as you need to make your point. A strong paper will also include background material, drawn from lecture, section, and assigned course readings, that puts the Book of Job into its historical and cultural context. Make sure you explain your reasoning as you write; that is, make sure you explain how the evidence you present helps to support your point. (Note: You must confine your analysis to your section and lecture notes and to assigned course material. You may not consult any outside sources for this assignment.) In addition to proposing your own thesis, you must also discuss at least one plausible alternative hypothesis. Whenever you present an alternative hypothesis, make sure to discuss both the evidence that supports it and the reasons you have for believing that your own interpretation is better (your rebuttal). You don't have to claim that your interpretation is "right" or "true"; you just have to persuade your readers that it is the strongest among competing views. In short, you should construct an argument about how to interpret the Book of Job (with regard to its author's view of divine justice) in which you consider different interpretations before ultimately making a case for the superiority of your own approach. This paper, the first of the quarter's three writing assignments, is worth 8% of your final course grade. Remember that you must complete all three writing assignments in order to pass MMW2. ...
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This note was uploaded on 07/05/2008 for the course MMW 2 taught by Professor Chang during the Spring '08 term at UCSD.
- Spring '08