The Rhetoric of Suffering: Reading the Book of Job in the Eighteenth Century

By Jonathan Hoeber Lamb | Go to book overview

7
Fictions of the Law

The law -- whether it exists, whether it works and, if it does, whether it works justly -- is an important issue both for Job himself as vainly he seeks a judgement, and for the participants in the Job controversy, who divide over the issue of providential equity and the existence of a law fit to justify or punish Job's actions. Indeed, it is evident from the oppositional discourses bordering theodicy in the eighteenth century that the effectiveness of the law, in the broad sense of a universally applicable a priori rule or original principle, is at the heart of all debates concerning the relation of providence to the facts of human unhappiness.1 Hume's graphic image of the failure of preceptual wisdom -- the arm missing the object it meant to strike -- applies to every scene of misery which is caused or exacerbated by a statute, regulation, maxim, or moral that can neither grasp nor answer it. As there is no scene more expressive of the agony caused by the law missing its aim than prisoners hopelessly pleading their case before an unyielding judge, or making a futile bid on the scaffold for the crowd's pity or approval, so there are few figures in the Bible more potently suggestive of such a scene than Job. This association has a long history. In his commentary John Calvin talks of Job as a man made to perform as a criminal, 'set here as it were upon a scaffold' so that his anguish ('heere now as rotten caryon . . . like to fall in peeces') may make him 'a gazing stocke and . . . an example and learning to others'.2

In eighteenth-century Britain there is an even stronger reason to associate the plight of Job with that of a condemned person. While Warburton was slugging it out with his opponents over the status of the law in Job, legal commentators were becoming equally agitated about criminal law, concerned either that it was failing badly in its duty of

____________________
1
The close connections between providence and law are set out by William Paley as follows: 'By the satisfaction of justice, I mean the retribution of so much pain for so much guilt; which is the dispensation we expect at the hand of God, and which we are accustomed to consider as the order of things perfect justice dictates and requires'. The Principles of Moral and Political Philosopby ( London: R. Faulder, 1785), 526. See also Henry Home, Lord Kames, Historical Law-Tracts, 2 vols. ( Edinburgh A. Millar, 1758), i. 2; Henry Fielding, Examples of the Interposition of Providence in the Detection and Punishment of Murder in An Enquiry into the Causes of the late Increase in Robbers, ed. Malvin R. Zirker ( Connecticut: Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1988), 179-217; and Lincoln Faller, Turned to Account ( Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1987), 72-90.
2
Sermons of Master Iohn Calvin, upon the Booke of IOB, trans. Arthur Golding ( London, 1574), 50, 38.

-128-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Rhetoric of Suffering: Reading the Book of Job in the Eighteenth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 329

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.