Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

The Concentric Structure of the Wisdom Poem in Job 28

Henderson, R. (2018) The Concentric Structure of the Wisdom Poem in Job 28. Journal of Ancient Judaism, 9 (1). pp. 26-45.

Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


The enigmatic wisdom poem of Job 28:1–28 stands apart from the rest of the book of Job in style and structure. Most read this poem in linear progression as three strophes (vv. 1–11; 15–19; 23–28) with an intervening refrain (vv. 12–14; 20–22). In this study, it is suggested that the poem has been presented in the form of a concentric or compositional ring structure, which juxtaposes arguments rather than presenting them in a linear fashion. According to this structure there are five compositional units, the centre of which holds the main point of the text (A, B, C, B1, A1). A central section (C vv. 15–19), maintains the traditional view of the supreme value of wisdom. The central unit is surrounded by two inner parallel sections each beginning with a rhetorical question concerning the location of wisdom (Sections B vv. 12–14 and B1 vv. 20–22), and two outer sections (A vv. 1–11 and A1 vv. 23–28) in which two contrasting ways of acquiring wisdom are presented: by independent human effort presented in the form of a mining metaphor (A vv. 1–11); or by contemplation of God’s omnipotent creative power and reverence for Him resulting in right behaviour (A1). Each of the major units also follows a concentric pattern.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Brill
Item Control Page Item Control Page