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Providence in the Book of Job

The Search for God's Mind

Jeremy I. Pfeffer teaches physics at the Rehovot campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. A graduate of Imperial College in London and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he has taught science in high schools in England and Israel and served as principal of several Israeli high schools. He has written and published textbooks on Modern Physics in both English and Hebrew. The present book is the result of a private study that has stretched over the last twenty-five years.


Discusses the origins of the Book of Job, the key personalities in its narrative (God, Satan and Job), and the workings of Providence as reflected in Scripture and Talmudic source

A critical presentation of the sense of the Book of Job as it appears in the commentaries of R. Saadiah Gaon,  R. Abraham Ibn Ezra, the Rashi School of exegetes, Maimonides, Nahmanides, Gersonides, R. Joseph Caspi, the Zohar and Kabbalists, Rabbeinu Bachya Asher, R. Zerahiah Garcian, R. Simeon ben Zemah Duran and R. Meir Lebush Malbi

Much of the material has never before appeared in the English language

Provides Hebrew setting of key words and phrases in the Job story

Of all the inventions of man’s imagination, none transcends his primal belief in the existence of invisible forces which shape a person’s destiny, often in ways that make a mockery of his own efforts to do so. And of all these arcane powers, none is more enigmatic than the Divine Providence which underlies the belief in ethical monotheism. Just why does God allow bad things to happen to good or innocent people? The traditional Jewish context for such investigations was biblical exegesis, in particular the interpretation and elucidation of the Book of Job.

Over twenty medieval Hebrew commentaries on the Book of Job have survived to the present day and it is the ideas concerning Providence expressed in these works that form the central core of this study. The final chapter brings the issue closer to our own times through discussion of the Scientific Revolution and the search for God’s Mind – moving away from the sphere of theological speculation to that of mathematical physics.


Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-064-4
Hardback Price: £49.95 / $69.50
Release Date: April 2005
   
Page Extent / Format: 252 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: William Blake engravings of The Book of Job
   

 



Preface

Synopsis of the Book of Job

1 The Origins of the Book of Job

2 The Personalities in the Book of Job
Job and his Companions
Satan
The God of Job

3 The Workings of Providence

4 Medieval Commentaries on the Book of Job
R. Saadiah Gaon
R. Abraham Ibn Ezra
The Rashi School
R. Moses ben Maimon: Maimonides
R. Moses ben Nachman: Nahmanides
R. Levi ben Gershon: Gersonides
R. Joseph Caspi
Rabbeinu Bachya ben Asher
R. Zerahiah ben Isaac ben Shaltiel Gracian

5 R. Simeon ben Zemah Duran's Commentary on the Book of Job
Pointers to the Chapters

6 The Challenge of the New Apodosis

Appendix I Ibn Ezra's Summary of his Commentary on the Book of Job

Appendix II Published Medieval Commentaries on the Book of Job

Glossary of Hebrew Terms
Bibliography
Index


A scholarly work, it begins with a synopsis before moving on to introduce the personalities of the book and the way in which providence is understood in other books of the Old Testament. The rest of the book is devoted to a series of mediaeval commentaries by the greatest scholars of their day, struggling as we do to explain why bad things happen to good people…In this case, the author is trained as a physicist but has steeped himself deeply in the text and takes the reader along with him on his quest.
Scientific and Medical Network Review

In the last chapter Pfeffer brings his treatise closer to our own times by considering the works of Spinoza and Malbim of the 17th and 19th centuries respectively. Worthwhile for the advanced student of the Book of Job.
AJL Newsletter


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