Archive for the ‘Mrs. Job’ Tag


On the day I was born the stock market crashed hitting the wealthy top percent very hard. That was October 28, 1929; the news didn’t reach the papers until the next day. On October 27 the front page had assured readers that all would be well. All had not been well for a long time for folks at the bottom of the ladder and lessons at the top were learned the hard way. I was among the very fortunate. My parents brought me home to a brand-new house with two older siblings and a mortgage. Fortunately my father remained employed and we kept the house – the same house whose photo is on the cover of my newly published book, My Father’s House: Remembering my Swedish-American family. If you want to learn about my family and the historic times in which we lived, that’s the place to do it.

Intellect, learning, religion, and the English language fed discussions around our dinner table where the family gathered every night to enjoy food for the soul as well as for the healthy body. I guess that’s what lay behind my career path. Academic degrees — BA (Connecticut College for Women), MA and PhD (Boston University) — fueled a long teaching career from Johnson Teacher’s College in Johnson, Vermont, to the University of Vermont to Psychology Professorship and Department Chair at Southern Connecticut State University.

In the years before I retired from SCSU (in 1986) I was involved in the teaching of a new course – the Psychology of Women – cobbled together in the early 70s from various readings because it was too new a topic to have a textbook. Together with women faculty from the History, Political Science, and English departments we established a new women’s studies minor. And I did talks around town on “A Healthy Woman is a Crazy Person,” often challenged that if we women had our way it would ruin marriage. And there was once a whole group who walked out on one of my talks because I said, “Abortion is a women’s issue.” People were sensitive. And Oh! what changes have come about since: women reporters in all places on all issues, women pharmacists, women anchors on the evening news, women pilots, women firefighters, police, even captains. 

Maybe that work did destroy marriages. My twenty-year marriage ended in 1976, having produced a son and a daughter with whom I exchange happiness, and two grandchildren, one of each traditional sex. 

It’s probably no surprise that my retirement from teaching morphed into an active private practice which was reduced mightily when I chose Minnesota for my new home in 1995. I refused then to have anything to do with managed care – not the best decision financially. But I did get the opportunity to teach again – at the Adler Graduate School. That pretty much ended when I totaled my car in 2015, a story you can find on my web site:

Before leaving Connecticut I had developed a new interest – the Psychology of Forgiveness. In 1999, four years after arriving in Minnesota When to Forgive and Forgiving One Page at a Time were the tangible results. That’s when I learned that one doesn’t make money writing books.

Oh, I forgot to tell you. When I was thirteen I decided I would become a Lutheran minister. That’s the only time I remember my supportive parents ever laughing at me. That’s when I learned I was the wrong body type – female, you know.  But by 2009 my three interests – women, forgiveness, and religion – had come together with the publication of Mrs. Job. Unfortunately people tended to read “Job” as if it referred to a paying occupation, and besides, I had left the PhD after my name. As a consequence, it appeared to be a self-help book for married women seeking work, or something like that. 

Then a new publisher came along wanting to produce it with some new bells and whistles and a different title. So they had me take Mrs. Job off the market while I worked with their editor and we planned on a new title and cover. Sadly, after over a year, they ran out of money. So I self-published the slightly modified book (with no PhD after my name) giving it the title “Figs and Pomegranates and Special Cheeses.” Then, as you might expect, some people thought it was a cookbook. If you’re interested in where the title comes from, it’s on p.50: “Love changes over time. I guess you could say at first it is like feasting on figs and pomegranates and special cheeses, and later it is like enjoying the evening potage. The thrill may not be so great later on, but each day it fills the empty hole that would be hunger if you did not have each other.”

I’ve learned a few lessons in the authoring process. (1) It’s the rare writer who makes money at the craft – or maybe I’m the rare writer who doesn’t. (2) Writing is a pleasure when you own the topic. (3) The best of all worlds is when all one’s interests fall into place. Which brings me to the question why I spent years researching and writing My Father’s House: Remembering My Swedish-American Family. Maybe the best answer lies in the author’s name, Mona Gustafson – Swedish, you know. A way of recapturing the person who has carried an Italian name since 1955. 

And another recent product of the COVID-19 quarantine, This Sucks! I Want to Live, published as a memorial to my friend Nick Spooner who died too young as a result of two glial blastomas. Goodreads hesitated to let me include that book on my site since I had listed Nick as the author and myself as editor. The core of the book is his entries in Facebook from the time of his diagnosis until his final entry less than two months later – the source of the books title. And why did I put it together? I just plain wanted to do it in memory of a man who worked so hard and long to build a good and admirable person only to be snatched away too soon.

I’m not sure what comes next, but I am aware that, given what I’ve learned in my recent studies of racial equity, I would teach a course in personality or developmental psychology differently now. I can see that what the textbooks, and therefore I, used to present was the psychology of middle class, white, European-sourced men (and, after the 1970s) women. Maybe some small book is in the making. I’m open to suggestions.


I don’t want to take your attention away from my previous blog, and even the one before that, but I’ve managed to get this great photo of “The Library” at Petra from my son. For those of you who have read “Mrs. Job,” or its later update “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses,” I hope it’s of interest to see this Petra landmark. Remember that Petra is basically Edom where the biblical Book of Job is located.

Doug's Petra


Sower Gallery

I’d love to see you there on Saturday if you live nearby. Besides the items of direct concern to me, there will be much of beauty and interest to see, ponder, and enjoy.

The theme of the current gallery display is “Back Stories.” The story of the cover of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” will include the original art work by Marilyn Brown along with a step by step display of the graphic art enhancement by Jenny Janson of Janson Graphics.

Copies of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” (and its predecessor “Mrs. Job.”) will be available for sale.

There will also be on display a photo print by Doug Affinito with its backstory.

Doug and Lisa and I will be there for the opening, arriving sometime around 7:15 or 7:30 p.m. Jenny will also be there, and, I hope, Marilyn.

The location is given on the attached brochure designed by Jenny.


Dear Jollie,

If I didn’t love you so (and if you weren’t so far away) I’d be throttling you for your well-intentioned comment. “With all those rave reviews, I don’t understand why you’re having a tough time selling.  I do wonder about one thing, tho’.   Could it be the title?   When one reads about the character and content of the story, it becomes completely understandable, but to someone who doesn’t it may not…especially at a glance.”

After All I’ve been through with the title! Remember? It was originally published as “Mrs. Job.” It wasn’t long, though, before it came through loud and clear that people were pronouncing “Job” as if it referred to paid employment. And besides, I left the Ph.D. after my name, so people got scared off thinking it was some heavy academic tome.

I realized the latter point when I gave a copy to Lisa’s neighbor in Williamsburg. She had to read it, of course, because it was a gift she had to acknowledge. And then she was surprised, discovering that it was a good read. “I was afraid to read it,” she said, “because I thought I wouldn’t understand it.” Oh my!

In spite of all that, though, a traditional publisher wanted to publish it. So back at the beginning of 2013 when Doug and I were heading off for a month’s Asia/Pacific cruise they had me terminate my contract with iUniverse, planning to come up with a new name and cover while I was away. In the meantime they provided an editor to work with me, and a copy editor, so Mrs. Job was thoroughly vetted. It took a long time for the copy editor to make his way through it. I had just made my final response to his latest effort when I received a notice in mid-summer, 2013, that they had lost their funding and would not be publishing “Mrs. Job” or whoever she was to become.

So, Job’s wife was essentially homeless (i.e., unpublished, except for leftover copies) from January, 2013 ‘til November 2014. (Almost two years.) That’s a pretty long time for a lady to be without a home.

At any rate, after much discussion with lots of people, I decided to publish it as “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” taken, as you know, from a quote on p. 50. By the time she hit the presses she had been so thoroughly edited that I rejected the first draft when I found a typo on page 115 and re-did it. Even now, there is a “.com” missing on the ESBN page. Just to prove no one or book is perfect.

To tell the truth, Jollie, with the really great reviews “Mts. Job” had received before and “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” has received now, I did hope the book might hit the tipping point into great sales. As you point out, it hasn’t happened.

So I won’t throttle you. It’s not your fault.

I did decide to take the advice of a blogger friend and stop sending the message out to the universe that I “need” it to succeed. Sometimes I feel like really retiring and just hanging out with some good books, but instead now I’m focusing on “My Father’s House” and letting Job’s wife find her own way in life.

Well, not quite. Today I listed her on Goodreads. (I just checked. I guess this link won’t take you there until the Goodreads folks have judged it worthy on Monday.) It would be nice if people were to go there and write reviews.

But … nope. Stop that,Mona. I’ll focus on things like getting to choir on time tomorrow morning, and sitting for a while by the fire with one of the many books I have in the works.

Message to the universe: I don’t really “need” for “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses “ to reach the tipping point, so feel free to come by and tip it.

That’s it, Jollie. I love you and miss you, and cherish all the years of friendship.


ERROR ON PAGE 115     6 comments

On August 7th I received the proof copy of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses.” I thought I would find it perfect and it would be on in a few days ready for comment and purchase.

But this is a story about the inevitability of errors, and the compulsion to overcome them. It’s an example of the need for careful editing.

Just to be sure, I proofed the proof. This must be about the 15th time. And shucks, it wasn’t perfect.

Back before it was published as “Mrs. Job,” I edited it several times before sending it off to iUniverse, where they both edited and copyedited it, involving me in the process. Then came the time when TMPublications intended to publish it under a different title, so it was again edited and copyedited. Again I was involved with checking their edits.

The next step in the story, as I guess you all know by now, TMPulications ran into financial problems so they couldn’t publish it. For the following year and a half when “Mrs. Job” (or whoever she was to become) wondered what her future would be, she was edited by me several times. And finally, when she was newly labeled “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” I edited her several more times.

So, I thought she had attained perfection. But no. Right away I noticed that the unnecessary word “that,” carefully removed in several places, was still showing up where I didn’t want it. Oh well, that’s a stylistic matter, I thought, so we’ll let it stand.

But then I hit page 115 where what should have been the word “moved” was missing a “d.” That just provides one example why I don’t rely on spellcheck to pick up on errors.

And on page 169 I discovered the same verb appearing twice in the same paragraph. My ears didn’t like that.

So, I’ll proof it one more time. I know the ideal would be to have someone else do it for me, but I don’t know who I could ask at the last minute, and I can’t wait much longer to get “Figs …” out there for review.

So, I’ll read through it again and try this time to perfect it. Fortunately it is a good read if I do say so myself. Yes, I do say so.




Want to test your copyediting skills? I’d like to suggest a deal that might help both of us.

“Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses: a Biblical Love Story” will be a moderately edited version of “Mrs. Job.” Adding a little more action to meet the needs of  TM Publishing who, in the end, ran out of money and didn’t publish the new edition.

So, anyone buying “Mrs. Job” at the reduced rate will be getting basically the same story. And I want to be sure the new version is as error-free as possible.

Therefore, here’s my challenge. Buy “Mrs. Job” and search her for typos or other obvious errors. Just don’t mess with the “g” or “G” in “god/God” because that’s intentional to reflect Dara’s conflict in struggling to accept Job’s one jealous God.

Also, please don’t quibble about things like using colons, or dashes, for example. Things that are a valid matter of choice.

For every error you find, e-mail me and claim a $1.00 rebate to the limit of the cost of the book (without tax and postage.)

If it should happen you find none, you can feel free to let people know how good a copyeditor I am.

That’s it.



Soon I’ll be rolling out “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses: a Biblical Love Story.” The layout is ready to go, just waiting for the new cover art to be finished. I’ll be meeting next week with the artist.

If you’ve been following me, you know that.” “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses: a Biblical Love Story.” is a newly edited version of “Mrs. Job.” (It has been through content editors twice and through copy editors the same number of times. To say nothing of my own perfectionistic editing and copy-editing.)

So now I’m offering my inventory of “Mrs. Job” at a reduced rate. Just click on the cover photo to order through PayPal:

Soft Cover   $10.00 plus postage and handling (and tax for MN residents.)

Hard Cover $15.00 plus postage and handling (and tax for MN residents.)

Let me know if you want it signed in a particular way.

 I’m including a copy here of the back cover comments. (click to make it larger.)

Mrs Job Back Cover

So why a new edition? Again, those of you who have been with me know that the big problem with “Mrs. Job” was the title. Everyone, it seems, read “Job” as if it had to do with paid employment, rather than the book of Job, one of the books of wisdom in the Hebrew Testament. Also, given that I left the Ph.D. after my name, people took it to be one of a few things: A self-help book for married women seeking paid employment; a heavy psychological tome; a – liberal, or maybe fundamentalist – rant.

But it’s none of those things. It is the love story of fictional Dara, the wife of Biblical Job, from her childhood and lifelong friendship with Adah, through her marriage to Job, the growth of family and wealth, through the biblical trials and their aftermath.

The cover of “Mrs. Job” is lovely, but “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” will be more romantic and colorful, more likely, I hope, to grab the eye and illustrate the basics of the story.

I’ll bet you’re thinking I’m in danger this time that the book will be filed in the cookbook section. I’m hoping not. My expectation is that the visual cover and the full title will help to avoid that.

As for the source of the new title. It comes from her mother’s words in a conversation they have shortly before Dara’s marriage.

 “Oh Dara, I did feel that way

about your father when we first married,

but love changes over time.

I guess you could say at first it is like

feasting on figs and

pomegranates and special cheeses,

and later it is like enjoying the

evening potage. The thrill may not be

so great later on, but each day it fills

the empty hole that would be hunger

if you did not have each other.”


Hi all!

I don’t have any great wisdom to impart, or challenges to offer, or prizes to give. I just want to check in so you won’t forget me out there in the blogosphere. 

The heading? Well, as I said recently, I’m focusing this month on finding ways to get Mrs. Job published and marketed. I’m checking out self-publishing — again (now that my contract with iUniverse is broken) — and the possibilities of aid with marketing if I choose that route. Obviously I haven’t been very successful on my own.

I’ve also submitted a query letter to an agent who looks right for the book and I’ve paid money toWriter’s Digest for an evaluation of that letter. It will be weeks before I hear their opinion. I’ve sent the manuscript to Beaver’s Pond Press for an estimate of cost for publishing with them. I’ve consulted a marketer who is looking into her contacts to see if there might be someone who specializes in working with authors. And I’m considering “Create Space.”

In consultation with my MFA sister, I’ve decided on the new working title: Pomegranates and Special Cheeses.  Perhaps with a colon addition: A Biblical Love Story. If you’ve read Mrs. Job you may recognize this as a description of their young love, mentioned a few times in the text.

It goes without saying that the book needs a different cover — more appealing if one should see it sitting on a bookstore shelf.

In the meantime, it’s taking a lot of time to learn the music (to be done a cappella) for the nun’s chorus in “The Sound of Music.” Mark Abelsen, the director, is, I’m happy to say, a stickler for perfection. Scary, but should produce a really great result. As for Sister Margaretta, I think I’ve got her part down, except when I panic on stage.

And then there’s winter in Minnesota, though I’m happy to say we seem to be past the extreme deep freeze that had my fingers numb in no time when I went outside. 

The part that bugs me most, perhaps, is that I can’t get to “My Father’s House.” I’ve thought about it, and I think the word really is “can’t.” I just can’t postpone the work on “The Sound of Music,” and I’ve committed myself to working this month on Mrs. Job — oops! Pomegranates and Special Cheeses.

I would be very happy to receive comments — on the potential title, or possible marketers, or to share cold weather stories, or anything else I’ve said here — or just to let me know you’re still willing to bother with me in spite of my frequent absences.

I have received e-mail responses to my latest blog, encouraging me to keep pushing for Mrs. Job’s publication, making really nice comments about the book. Such things are good to hear.


I’m spending this month focusing on getting “Mrs. Job” republished after she was set free by TM Publishing when they ran out of funding. But this time around, the working title will be “Job’s Wife: A Biblical Love Story.” Maybe people won’t be so tempted to pronounce “Job” as if it referred to paid employment rather than one of the “wisdom” books in the bible.

It’s sad, I think, that she is without a home because a publisher liked her well enough to offer her a new home and had me cancel her contract with iUniverse a year ago, but then couldn’t afford to move her in. But it does no good to wallow in regrets, so I’m actively seeking a new placement for her.

As starters, I’m looking for agents and examining the offerings of self-publishing sources. Besides, right now I’m sharing a part with you. .. the section at the end where I describe what lay behind my writing the book in the first place and making the decisions I did.

I do have some copies of “Mrs. Job” left on my shelf as she was with iUniverse before the improvements edited in while working with TM publishing.

Any agents out there? Any smart folks with good suggestions? Any comments .. suggestions for a new title .. new cover?

You can see the old cover and some comments if you go to Mrs. Job at


The issue of forgiveness seized my attention in the mid 1980s, at a time when I was still engaged in the psychology of women, my special area of instruction during the last fifteen years of my academic career. An essential aspect of forgiveness is concern for justice. Given that I also have a lay student’s interest in the Bible, it probably isn’t surprising that I chose to study Biblical justice as reflected in the Book of Job. And it seemed especially appropriate to view the story from the point of view of his wife who suffered the severe losses of the trials along with him. So my interests coalesced in what seemed to me to be a very comfortable and meaningful way.

Applying my psychologist’s focus to the study, I found myself annoyed with the somewhat pervasive portrayal of “the patience of Job” as a kind of wimpy, uncomplaining  acceptance of any punishment, no matter how unjust. I saw him instead as a pretty strong character, one of the first self-actualizers who knew his own strengths and weaknesses and would not yield to anyone’s pressure to lie about himself in order to gain favor. I liked that Job.

My career as an academic had schooled me to examine everything I could about a topic of interest. That isn’t bad training if one is working on topics that are already familiar, and if the amount of relevant material is reasonably limited. So I began reading about the Book of Job, and discovering interesting interpretations and speculations. But when I visited the Yale Divinity School Library and saw the huge wall of writings about Job, I realized I’d either have to give up the project or curb my perfectionism. I wasn’t a theologian, and previous researchers had been more abundant than I could handle and still maintain my own life and professional activities.

I confess that the dilemma froze my Joban activities, but he was never far out of my thoughts. Then, in 1992, Safire identified Job as “the first dissident,“[i] not that different from my Self-actualizing Job, I thought, and I was fired up again. The perfectionism yielded a little, and I thought maybe I could continue to explore Job for pleasure, not as if I were writing a dissertation.

The Job I liked had a firm commitment to justice rather than self-righteous justification. In 2000, my sister provided me with a book by Alan Dershowitz[ii] which helped me understand more clearly the covenant relationship which Job invoked in his demand that God declare the charges he had against him. Like a good lawyer, Job called on his right to know, and the demand was justified with God’s appearance to him and the ultimate restoration of his family and wealth. And I felt a little freer to enjoy Job.

Not only was Job a self-actualizing dissident with the courage unyieldingly to maintain his integrity, he was also an early feminist. Why else would such a point be made that he named the three daughters in his second family and saw to it that they got an equal share of the inheritance?  To name is to grant power, as is inclusion in one’s will, so to speak. Of course, the Biblical story doesn’t mention the daughters in his first family. He probably named them too, as he would have done all his children. But the writer of Job chose to make a point of his care for the three daughters in his second family. Something must have happened during the trials or as their consequence to inspire him to act in such a counter-cultural manner. So Job himself opened up the issue of the women in Job’s life.

Job’s wife is mentioned three times in the Book of Job (NRSV). First, in 2:9-10,

“Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still persist in your integrity?  Curse God, and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as any foolish woman would speak.  Shall we receive the good at the hand of God, and not receive the bad?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”

The most common understanding of this encounter has been, over the centuries, to accuse Mrs. Job of being in league with the devil. That interpretation is a little unsatisfactory, since neither she nor Job knew the exchange that was taking place between God and The Satan, or the Accusing Angel,[iii] who, by the way, was then an agent of God and not the Devil we have come to know in later times.[iv]

Other explanations include the suggestions that the word for “curse” could also be translated “bless,” that Mrs. Job is invoking a customary Jewish usage of the opposite to express the real meaning of her intent, or, in a more humorous vein, cartoons and poems about the nuisance Job is, sitting around in the ashes, while she has to do all the work. (“Lift your legs,” she says to the seated Job in one cartoon, while she vacuums under his feet.)

Those of us who study the history and psychology of women are not surprised by the identification of Job’s wife with the devil. It has been tradition, until feminist reexamination changed our way of looking at things, to identify women with evil. But that’s another fascinating and ongoing study of women in the Bible which can wait for another time.

I have chosen to extract three major points from this encounter, the first of which requires knowing the situation from outside, when God tells The Satan to spare Job’s life. In my story, I have chosen to see that Mrs. Job’s life was therefore spared since, as Job’s wife, she was one with him, a part of him, and therefore covered by the injunction to spare his life.

If you see that as a stretch, I understand why, but two other points seem more obvious to me, and, I think, may be more acceptable to you. His reply to her, essentially saying, “Now you sound like any foolish woman” suggests to me that he holds her in high respect, surprised when she sounds foolish. Like the claim in the previous paragraph, I have chosen to make this respect an integral part of the story of Mrs. Job.

Finally this exchange has provided the opportunity for a clear statement from Job that God is in charge, and may mete out both good and bad. There is nothing in this response that would reflect the views we will hear from his so-called comforters who are so convinced that punishment is always justified, and must reflect sin on the part of the sufferer. Therefore, they “know” that Job can end his suffering if only he will tell God he’s sorry he’s been such a sinner. The position of the “comforters” is that people can control God by their own right behavior. Job’s position puts God in charge. Theirs puts humans in charge. By the end of the story, God confirms Job’s argument that humans do not have the power of self-justification and rebukes the other men for their self-aggrandizement.

And now for the second time Job’s wife is mentioned:, “My breath is repulsive to my wife.” (19:17 NRSV) That his breath is repulsive is no surprise. Ill and depressed, Job has not been eating, a natural consequence of which is halitosis. But I think there’s more to be gleaned from this about their relationship. Clearly she has been close enough to him to be offended by his breath, so we know he hasn’t driven her away, literally or figuratively. And I also read into this an intimacy strong enough that she can come right out and tell him his breath is bad. I choose to see that kind of intimacy as an integral part of their relationship.

Finally, “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door, then let my wife grind for another, and let other men kneel over her. For that would be a heinous crime; that would be a criminal offense; for that would be a fire consuming down to Abaddon, and it would burn to the root all my harvest.” (31: 9-12 NRSV)

If one really wanted to, one could find explanations – probably legalistic – of other meaning behind these words. But for me, it seems most simple and direct to accept this at face value – that he has been faithful to his wife. True, in the society of Job’s time, he might have taken other wives or concubines, but it seems to me like a stretch to go beyond this simple statement of monogamy. I have chosen for my story to assume that Job and his wife respect and love each other.

Working since 1970 with secular textbooks and articles about women, I encountered an occasional reference to Proverbs 31:10-31, “Ode to a Capable Wife” (See Appendix). It has often been presented as a negative example of how hard a woman’s life is. Women sometimes recognized it when I incorporated it into my talks, but Jewish women’s groups always nodded in positive reaction to “the woman of valor.”

As I thought about the women in my own extended family, I realized how many of my aunts fit the picture of this woman who is basically in charge of everything involved in daily life: buying, selling, merchandizing, traveling, dispensing charity, sharing wisdom, providing the necessities of food and warmth. And, unless they are living in dire poverty, these are the women who feel good about themselves, productive, useful, and respected. Depression was more likely to develop for women who were assigned a more dependent role in our culture.

I came to understand that the ideal wife in Proverbs 31 had an important function, and freed her husband to perform his, which was, at that time, to study, worship, and sacrifice to God. While the culture of the 1970s valued buying, selling, merchandizing, traveling, dispensing charity, sharing wisdom, and providing the necessities of food and warmth as primarily an honorable masculine function, to really understand women of the time of Proverbs 31, we had to understand the different culture. If Job, in standing respectfully before God, was an honorable Self–actualizer, then so was his wife as she went about her busy, productive life of tending to daily needs.

Now I knew I wanted to write the story of Job’s wife, and I felt comfortable with the psychology of it.  But this is a Biblical story, so I needed some confirmation from an appropriate scholar. I called Brevard Childs, the noted Old Testament scholar at Yale,[v] and asked him if it would be appropriate to take the ideal wife of Proverbs 31 as a model for Mrs. Job. His answer was an unhesitating “yes.” The book of Job and the “ideal wife” are both part of wisdom literature, probably from the patriarchal period. And he encouraged me to write it. Little could either one of us know how long it would be before Mrs. Job finally got birthed.

Professor Childs is not responsible for any of the other assumptions I’ve made in writing this story. He is, however, responsible for my developing the courage to write it. As I understand it, wisdom literature is exactly that – attempts to define and teach wisdom. It was for that reason that I chose to name Job’s wife “Dara” (Wisdom). Equally in the running for a name was “Hope” which, I felt, reflected a particularly strong element of her personality, but perhaps hope is just one small part of wisdom, so Dara she is.

The book of Mrs. Job is fiction, but there are two areas where it has to be faithful to the source. First, while the interpretation of the particular events of the trials and their aftermath are mine, their depiction must be true to the Biblical story. Second, the details of their life must reflect the reality of the time in which they live.

My sister, the one in the family with the MFA in writing, has told me that one reads, takes notes on, and experiences a lot of material, but when it comes to writing fiction, all that serves as background against which the story is created. She finally helped free me of my academic perfectionist trap. Her final nudge was to give me a very attractive journal to be used only for writing about Job’s wife. What follows is some of the background that informed Mrs. Job’s story as I was freed to create it.

Essentially in my research I have found no scholar who claims that the book of Job is the description of a particular man, his friends and family, and the events of his life, though there may be those who believe in the literal inerrancy of the Bible who will disagree with me.  I hope they too can enjoy whatever wisdom there is in my story of Job’s wife. I have found scholars, however, who have made suggestions about Job’s location in time and place, and some have suggested men of history who may have been models for the character Job. Since no one is really sure about Job’s roots, what follows is a description of the choices I’ve made.

The Book of Job is part of wisdom literature, which includes Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes in the Hebrew Bible. There is no definitive agreement on who wrote the Book of Job, or even how many authors were involved, but a good guess is that the poet/author was writing somewhere between the 9th and 6th century BCE and may have placed the story as far back as 2200 BCE.  There is general agreement that the Job of the story was an Edomite, or alternatively from Uz which is in the region of Edom. I have chosen to identify the Job of my story as an Edomite, because it gives me context for many aspects of my story.

The Edomites were semi-nomads who followed their herds in spring, summer, and autumn, and lived within a walled city in the winter. A characteristic of Edom as revealed by a search of the internet is that at least some of their city homes were in caves. Edom was located on the eastern side of what we call the Dead Sea, largely in an area which is now part of Jordan.

Choosing to identify Job as an Edomite helped define many other parts of Mrs. Job’s story. Edom is another name for Esau, whose mother and younger twin brother, Jacob, basically cheated him of his father’s blessing and the heritage that should have been his. (Genesis 27:1-40.) When Jacob fled to his Uncle Laban to escape Esau’s wrath, Esau took as an additional wife the daughter of Ishmael, the son of Abraham by Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s slave girl. He did that knowing it would offend his mother.

Choosing to accept the Edomite background for Job, then, opened up the possibility of understanding Job’s piety as that of one converted to a lost faith – lost because of the heritage of anger and resentment. In the background of my thought, I see Eliphaz and the others, along with Job, recovering the God of Abraham and his sons Isaac, patriarch of the Jews, and Ishmael, patriarch of the Islamic faith.

Every bit as important in the story of Esau and Jacob as background for Job is the reconciliation that occurred, basically because of Esau’s forgiveness, when Jacob returned with his family and flocks to the land of his father. As he approached Edom, the land in which Esau had settled, Esau met him with an embrace. (Genesis 33: 1-17.) Without the fact of that forgiveness and reconciliation, it would have been harder to portray the generosity and ultimate piety of Job.

The background for my assumptions about Job’s heritage was aided even further by another exploration of the internet where I came upon NABATAEA.NET, “The Hyksos, Kings of Egypt and the land of Edom: Chapter IV: The Book of Job.”  (Most recently reviewed 8/17/07.) Here the author proposes that Job is modeled on King Jobab, who, if I understand the author correctly, can trace his lineage back to Esau. Please understand that I am in no position to claim or dispute the accuracy of these assumptions, but they do allow me to embed my story in a reasonable framework. Here is the lineage. Esau fathered Ruel and Eliphaz (and King Bela?). Ruel fathered Zerah who fathered Jobab. In adopting this base for my story, I am, therefore, making Job the great grandson of Esau and a relative to Eliphaz.

But here’s the wrinkle created by artistic preference, or something like that. I had almost finished the first draft when I realized that, to be true to this assumption, Job’s father should have been Zerah, not Ruel as I had been calling him. So, I set my computer to work changing all the “Ruels” to “Zerah.” Uncle Ruel was gone from my manuscript and instead there was this stranger, Uncle Zerah. Now I know what writers mean when they talk about identifying with their characters. Truly, I went into mourning over the loss of Uncle Ruel, whom I had come to love, and perceived Uncle Zerah as an undesirable intruder. After a conference with my writer sister, I concluded with her help that, since this is fiction, I could bring Uncle Ruel back – a great relief to me. Then Pastor Beth Warpmaeker, much to my delight, pointed out that Zerah would have been Ben Ruel (son of Ruel) so I can feel even more justified calling him Uncle Ruel for short.

Now you have a pretty detailed description of the choices I have made on the way to creating “The Book of Mrs. Job.” I love Job and Dara. I also enjoy the issues of justice, self-justification, grace, and the masculinity/femininity of the deity. I am a psychologist, and it’s mostly the psychological questions that drew me.

I have come to love the other characters in the book as well. Since they are largely my own creation, I guess that’s a way of loving myself.  So be it. They say that writers don’t really create anything new, that they write about what they have experienced.  Looking back at the story, I guess that says something either about my own positive experiences in life, my own optimism, or my own Pollyanna tendencies. Whatever the reason, I see that I haven’t created even one mean and nasty person, except perhaps for the nameless attackers who brought on the trials.

I have also been pleased by the comment of Pastor Dave Olson of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. He pointed out what the Hebrew tradition sees as the purpose of Biblical stories. It is to promote discussion in depth of the issues raised. I guess that’s what Job was doing as he worshiped God, and I like to think that’s what I am doing in seeing the story of Job in this particular way.

Please remember, I’m a psychologist, a therapist, maybe a writer, but not a theologian or a historian. I’ve just tried to get Mrs. Job’s story right.

[i] William Safire (1992). The First Dissident: The Book of Job in Today’s Politics. New York: Random House..

[ii] Dershowitz, Alan M. (2000).  The Genesis of Justice:  Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments as Modern Law.  New York:  Warner Books.

[iii] “In many translations, the definite article precedes the word Satan in the Old Testament, suggesting a title like Special prosecutor, or Inspector General, rather than a person’s name.” Safire, Op.Cit., p. 3.

[iv] “In the Hebrew Bible, as in mainstream Judaism to this day, Satan never appears as Western Christendom has come to know him, as the leader of an ‘evil empire,’ an army of hostile spirits who make war on God and human kind alike.  As he first appears in the Hebrew Bible, Satan is not necessarily evil, much less opposed to God.  On the contrary, he appears in the book of Numbers and in Job as one of God’s obedient servants – a messenger, or angel. ..In biblical sources the Hebrew term the satan describes an adversarial role.  It is not the name of a particular character.” Elaine Pagels. (1995). The Origin of Satan,  New York:  Random House. P.39.

“Minus one cryptic reference in 1 Chronicles, Satan first appears in the Book of Job, where he works as God’s prosecuting attorney. Satan cannot do anything to Job that God will not let him do.  When Job’s children are killed, they are killed with God’s permission.  When sores erupt on Job’s body, they erupt with God’s permission.  As hard as this is for Job or his readers to swallow, it is one of the occupational hazards of monotheism. There is only one God in this story—the God who forms light and creates darkness, according to Isaiah 45—the God who makes weal and creates woe.”  Barbara Brown Taylor. (May 3, 2003) Christian Century, p. 43.

[v] I have been saddened to learn of Dr. Child’s death in summer, 2007.


1 Jemimah is the name given to Job’s oldest daughter in the biblical story.

2. Mitchell, Stephen. The Book of Job. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1987, p. 35.

3. Safire, William. The First Dissident: The Book of Job in Today’s Politics. New York: Random House, 1992.

4. Dershowitz, Alan M. The Genesis of Justice: Ten Stories of Biblical Injustice that Led to the Ten Commandments as Modern Law. New York: Warner Books, 2000.

5. Safire, Op. Cit., p. 3. “In many translations, the definite article precedes the word

Satan in the Old Testament, suggesting a title like Special Prosecutor, or Inspector General, rather than a person’s name.”

6. Pagels, Elaine. The Origin of Satan. New York: Random House, 1995, p. 39. “In the Hebrew Bible, as in mainstream Judaism to this day, Satan never appears as Western Christendom has come to know him, as the leader of an ‘evil empire,’ an army of hostile spirits who make war on God and human kind alike. As he first appears in the Hebrew Bible, Satan is not necessarily

evil, much less opposed to God. On the contrary, he appears in the book of Numbers and in Job as one of God’s obedient servants—a messenger, or angel …152 In biblical sources, the Hebrew term the satan describes an adversarial role. It is not the name of a particular character.”

7. Taylor, Barbara Brown. “Who are the Bad Guys?” Christian Century. May 3, 2003: 43.

“Minus one cryptic reference in 1 Chronicles, Satan first appears in the Book of Job, where he works as God’s prosecuting attorney. Satan cannot do anything to Job that God will not let him do. When Job’s children are killed, they are killed with God’s permission. When sores erupt

on Job’s body, they erupt with God’s permission. As hard as this is for Job or his readers to swallow, it is one of the occupational hazards of monotheism. There is ”only one God in this story—the God who forms light and creates darkness, according to Isaiah 45—the God who makes weal and creates woe.”

8. I have been saddened to learn of Dr. Child’s death in the summer of 2007.

9., Gibson, David J. “The Hyksos, Kings of Egypt and the land of Edom: Chapter IV: The Book of Job” (most recently reviewed 8/17/07).

PLEASE BEAR WITH ME   10 comments

This is addressed especially to my fellow bloggers, but it’s intended for everybody. Basically, I have to curtail my activities somewhere, so I’ll be starting here.

Why curtail my activities? Well, here are a few reasons. Winter has hit — and hit hard. Which means it takes much longer to dress to go outdoors. Seriously, zippers, buttons, warm hat, mittens. Oh, alright. That’s not such a big deal.

But then there’s shoveling. Yes, the complex does get professionally plowed when there are two inches, but the added inch and a half just stays on the driveway and sidewalk unless I remove them. I’ve been pretty good about the sidewalk for folks who come for appointments. Not so great on the driveway – fingers and toes get too cold too fast.

Then there’s practicing to be Sister Margareta in “The Sound of Music.” Fun, but takes time, especially keeping me out later at night than I like in the cold dark winter. Speaking of which, I look forward to December 21 – the winter solstice — when light returns gradually to our days. Would that I were rich! I’d have a retreat in Virginia for the winter — still some seasons, but not so bad.

Then there’s the business of trying to get Mrs. Job republished with a new name and cover.

And preparing for Christmas. I’ll bet lot’s of us are in this together!

Mostly, perhaps, it’s realizing that I’ve taken on a long-term project in the plan to write “My Father’s House.” I expect to be around at least 20 more years, but that’s no excuse for putting off the research and writing needed to get it done. Somehow nothing happens if I just lie in bed thinking up good ideas.

And, of course, I do still see clients. What a pleasure! I don’t ever want to stop my practice.

So, please, bear with me if I slack off on the blogging. Or maybe just keep it quick and simple.

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