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Where are the Books of Job’s Daughters? Mapping the Shadow Libraries of Antiquity
Keynote lecture: Eva Mroczek

In the Greek Testament of Job, Job's three daughters inherit magical cords that allow them to speak in angelic languages. They produce a set of celestial hymnbooks that the text’s narrator dangles tantalizingly before us: if anyone wishes to know 'The Creation of the Heavens,' he will be able to find it in 'The Hymns of Kasia.' "…Whoever wishes to grasp a trace of 'The Paternal Splendor' will find it written down in 'The Prayers of Amaltheias Keras.'" A prime example of “books known only by title,” these hymnbooks do not fit our expected models of textual attribution, intergenerational patriarchal transmission, and writing as a tool for memory and continuity. They claim no authority from ancient tradition and preserve no patriarchal memory. Instead, they represent brand new and elusive revelation spoken by Job’s inspired daughters, while his sons are explicitly shut out of inheriting their father’s revelatory vision and have no role in transmitting his legacy.

Why do the hymnbooks of Job’s daughters seem so different from other references to books in early Judaism? Is their apparent strangeness a result of our own assumptions about how gender, patriarchal continuity, and writing were linked in the ancient world? This talk will suggest that mapping ancient “shadow libraries” of books known only by title—imagined literary landscapes that include texts like the hymnbooks, which fall outside patriarchal chains of transmission—can help reframe our understanding of all our ancient texts, whether extant and available, or imagined or lost.

Nov 18, 2020 07:00 PM in Oslo

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