The Labor of Job: The Biblical Text as a Parable of Human Labor

The Labor of Job: The Biblical Text as a Parable of Human Labor

Paperback New Slant: Religion, Politics, and Ontology

By (author) Antonio Negri, Translated by Matteo Mandarini, Foreword by Michael Hardt

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  • Publisher: Duke University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 168 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 214mm x 14mm | 200g
  • Publication date: 1 January 2010
  • Publication City/Country: North Carolina
  • ISBN 10: 0822346346
  • ISBN 13: 9780822346340
  • Sales rank: 147,197

Product description

"The Labor of Job" is an unorthodox interpretation of a canonical text of Judeo-Christian thought by the renowned Marxist political philosopher Antonio Negri. In the Old Testament book of Job, the pious Job is made to suffer for no apparent reason. The heart of the story is Job's quest to understand why he must bear, and why God would allow, such misery. In conventional readings, the story is an affirmation of divine transcendence. When God finally speaks to Job, it is to assert his sovereignty and establish that it is not Job's place to question what he, God, allows. In Negri's materialist reading, Job does not recognize God's transcendence. He denies it, and in so doing becomes a co-creator of himself and the world. "The Labor of Job" was first published in Italy in 1990. Negri began writing it in the early 1980s, while he was a political prisoner in Italy, and it was the first book he completed during his exile in France (1983-97). As he writes in the preface, understanding suffering was for him in the early 1980s 'an essential element of resistance...It was the problem of liberation, in prison and in exile, from within the absoluteness of Power'. Negri presents a Marxist interpretation of Job's story. He describes it as a parable of human labour, one that illustrates the impossibility of systems of measure, whether of divine justice (in Job's case) or the value of labour (in the case of late-twentieth-century Marxism). In the foreword, Michael Hardt elaborates on this interpretation. In his commentary, Roland Boer considers Negri's reading of the book of Job in relation to the Bible and biblical exegesis. "The Labor of Job" provides an intriguing and accessible entry into the thought of one of today's most important political philosophers.

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Author information

Antonio Negri was formerly professor of political science at the universities of Padua and Paris VIII. He is the author of many books. Those available in English include "Insurgencies: Constituent Power and the Modern State" and "The Savage Anomaly: The Power of Spinoza's Metaphysics and Politics." Matteo Mandarini is a lecturer in the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London. He has translated books and essays by Negri including "Time for Revolution." Michael Hardt is Professor of Literature and Italian at Duke University. He and Negri are the authors of "Multitude "and" Empire." Roland Boer is Research Professor at the University of Newcastle, Australia. He is the author of "Political Myth: On the Use and Abuse of Biblical Themes," also published by Duke University Press.

Review quote

"Antonio Negri takes the ideas he developed in reading Spinoza, the Jewish heretic, and brings them to bear on one of the most crucial texts of orthodox Christianity to show how much unrealized potential for radical change persists even within those theoretical formations that seem the most monolithic and reactionary. Negri's approach prefigures efforts by philosophers such as Slavoj eiuek, Alain Badiou, and Giorgio Agamben to re-read the history of Christian thought against the grain."--Timothy S. Murphy, co-editor of The Philosophy of Antonio Negri "Job regards God, according to Negri, not as judge or father or even as the source of discipline and mediation, but merely as antagonist, the locus of an empty, unjust command. There is no more question of measure--equating sins and punishment or virtues and rewards--that could support a conception of divine justice. But Job is not powerless... According to Negri's reading he stands before God angry, indignant, unrepentant, and rebellious."--from the foreword by Michael Hardt, co-author, with Antonio Negri, of Empire and Multitude

Back cover copy

"The book of Job is the first (and, in many ways, still unsurpassed) exemplary case of the critique of ideology, teaching us how to resist legitimizing our misfortunes with any kind of 'deeper meaning'--and who is more suitable to actualize this book for our times as Antoni Negri? In his hands, The book of Job turns into a revolutionary text, into a true manual of resistance."--Slavoj Zižek

Table of contents

Contents; Foreword: Creation beyond Measure; Michael Hardt; Preface to the 2002 Edition; Introduction; 1. The Difference of Job; 2. Of the Absoluteness of the Contingent; 3. The Adversary and the Avenger; 4. The Chaos of Being; 5. The Dispositif of the Messiah; 6. The Constitution of Power; 7. Ethics as Creation; Commentary: Negri, Job, and the Bible; Roland Boer Bibliographical Appendix; Index