Collationes: Vlaams tijdschrift voor theologie en pastoraal vol:39 issue:2 pages:207-223
The book of Job abounds in metaphors used to describe Job’s suffering. After a number introductory remarks on the use of metaphor in the description of emotions, this contribution analyses four groups of frequent metaphors. A first group of metaphors conceptualizes life as a path. Although this metaphorisation is prevalent in most languages of the world, the book of Job provides some interesting elaborations of it. In a second group of cases, life and happiness are conceptualized as light, and suffering as darkness. While also this cluster is very common in languages and literatures around the world, it is remarkably frequent in the book of Job, as some simple statistics make clear. In this group, a distinction is made between metaphors that see light and darkness as the external circumstances in which life takes place, on the one hand, and metaphors that consider light and darkness as internal qualities of human beings, on the other. A third cluster of metaphors describes suffering in terms of restlessness, of being chased and permanently kept an eye on, not in the least by God himself. In a final group of metaphors, well-being and suffering are understood in terms of states of matter (especially solid and liquid). In this contribution, the internal consistency of these different clusters of metaphors is shown, as well as the coherence between these different ways of conceptualizing suffering. Moreover, a reinterpretation is offered of a number of cases in which metaphors were not adequately understood. In some concluding remarks, the hermeneutical importance of this rich mosaic of metaphors is stressed.