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Cover illustration

Every one of William Blake's illustrations of the Book of Job are priceless. My cover illustration shows the suffering Job under fire by his three "friends," who were, in fact, his friends at an earlier point. Faced with calamities that are numbing by any standard, Job would like to have an explanation (=God of Sense). His friends answer (1) that he is suffering because of his sins (=God of Sense). This does not make sense to Job, however, because he is certain of his integrity, and he even has a writ to that effect in the frame story. Indeed, the friends' accusations against him build on the faulty premise of Job's alleged iniquity (=Tradition of Non-Sense). Job resoundingly defeats the friends' first attempt to make sense of his misfortune. At that point the friends pivot to a very different view. (2) They say that Job does not have the capacity to understand and that God's ways are inscrutable. Human incapacity is matched to divine inscrutability: there is no answer, at least no answer that Job is capable of understanding (= Traditions of Non-Sense). This is how matters stand when God speaks from the whirlwind. On which side does God come down, Sense or Non-Sense? I have introduced the subject in chapter 1 of the book and answered it in chapter 14, a chapter devoted entirely to the Book of Job.

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