Job's Sufferings.
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Title:Job's Sufferings

This pictorial rendition of the story of Job is found in the Syriac Bible of Paris. This illuminated book has been dated around the 6th or early 7th century and is most likely the product of East Byzantine provinces.[1] The Syrian art characterizing this piece is predominantly dependent, then, upon ancient Semitic civilization of Mesopotamia or the Hittite-Aramaic of Syria, but undoubtedly also embodies some Hellenistic and Roman influences.[2] Illustrated by this illumination of the Book of Job, Syrian art possesses the main features of realism, dramatic energy, and inner meaning. David Diringer describes the effects of the narrative, as “being achieved by forceful means.” [3] This is evident in the enlargement of Job to signify importance.

When examining the illustration, it is clear the illustrator pulled several points of the story of Job into this one representation. Reflecting on the lectionary text, one can clearly recognize the first moments of pain inflicted on Job revealed in 2:7. The presence of his wife in the lower right quadrant moves the narration to 2:9-10. Correspondingly, the depictions of Job’s three friends continues the story of Job’s trial which creates a momentum of the eye, following a circular pattern, to fall back on looking at the central figure of the suffering Job. The explicit movement of the illustration continuously begins and ends with Job.

-- "[1] Kurth Weitzmann, Late Antique and Early Christian Book Illumination, (George Braziller, New York: 1977), 108-110.[2] David Diringer, The Illuminated Book: Its History and Production (Frederick A. Praeger, New York: 1967 ed.), 116.[3] Ibid., 116.

Date:6th or 7th century
Building:Bibliothèque nationale de France
Original Location:Northern Mesopotamia
Object/Function:Manuscript illumination

Scripture:Job 1:1, 2:1-10
Person as Subject:Job (Biblical figure)
Lectionary links:BProp22
General Subject:Suffering

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Copyright Permission:This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License. In short: you are free to use and to share the file for non-commercial purposes under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license compatible with this one. For uses other than the above, contact the Divinity Library at
Attribution:Job's Sufferings, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved September 27, 2020]. Original source:
Record Number:54180 Last Updated: 2010-12-07 15:00:09 Record Created: 2009-01-16 09:27:51
Institution:Vanderbilt University Unit: Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition