The conference is turning out to be a great success. The sessions I went to today had people overflowing out into the hall ways. I spent the morning staffing registration, then had a wonderful lunch with our plenary speaker, Dr. Choon-Leong Seow, along with Judy Fentress-Williams, and Jeremy Schipper. After lunch, went to two great sessions, and then we had our plenary, a lecture in slides by Dr. Seow on "Job's Wife in the History of Consequences." What a model plenary talk: lots of great humor and it sure showed how stubborn scholarly persistence pays off in striking results. One of the best aspects of the talk was Seow's demonstration that interpreter's have often misread art to depict Job's wife negatively. Take this painting from the 1630s by La Tour for example:
Before interpreters discovered its true subject matter was Job's wife, they saw the woman as a beautiful and comforting angel. When it was revealed that she was actually Job's wife, the woman was seen as a harsh antagonist of Job!
So too, in the case of Job's wife by Durer, all the world-class scholars of art that Dr. Seow contacted described the painting to depict the woman in negative terms. Isn't she clearly pouring water on Job to comfort him, cleansing him of puss and worms? Dr. Seow gave several strong arguments for a positive interpretation of Durer's painting of the wife, but I can't steal his thunder here. You'll have to buy the book when it comes out!