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Book of Job
JOB, BOOK OF. This book has a definite kinship with eastern chokmâ (wisdom) literature. OT Wisdom books (cf. Prov, Eccl, and, in a sense, S of Sol) applied foundational Mosaic revelation to the problems of human existence and conduct as they were being formulated in the philosophical circles of the world of that day. A figure like Job, standing outside the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, was an ideal vehicle for biblical wisdom doctrine, concerned as it was with the common ways and demands of God rather than with his peculiarly theocratic government of Israel.
Even an approximate date for the anonymous author is uncertain. The events he narrates belong to the early patriarchal period, as is evident from features like Job’s longevity, revelation by theophany (God visibly manifesting himself), the nomadic status of the Chaldeans, and early social and economic practices. But the question is, When was the tradition of Job transformed by the inspired author into the canonical?
Modern discussions of authorship and date are perplexed by critical doubts concerning the unity of the book. Most widely suspected of being additions to an original poem are the prologue-epilogue, the wisdom hymn (ch. 28), the discourse of Elihu (chs. 32-37), and at least parts of the Lord’s discourses (chs. 38-41). The LXX text of Job is about one-fifth shorter than the Massoretic, but the LXX omissions exhibit an editorial pattern of reduction. The argument for additions to the text, therefore, leans primarily on internal considerations—language, style, alleged inconsistencies of viewpoint. Conservative scholars, however, agree that the internal evidence points compellingly to the book’s integrity, though they of course allow for corruption in textual details.
Dates have been assigned by twentieth-century critics all the way from the Mosaic to the Maccabean ages. The early extreme is eliminated by the nature of the development of the OT canon; the late extreme, by the discovery among the
I. Desolation: The Trial of Job’s Wisdom (1:1-2:10)
II. Complaint: The Way of Wisdom Lost (2:11-3:26)
III. Judgment: The Way of Wisdom Darkened and Illuminated (4:1-41:34)
A. The verdicts of men (4:1-37:24)
1. First cycle of debate (4:1-14:22)
2. Second cycle of debate (15:1-21:34)
3. Third cycle of debate (22:1-31:40)
4. Ministry of Elihu (32:1-37:24)
B. The voice of God (38:1-41:34)
IV. Confession: The Way of Wisdom Regained (42:1-6)
V. Restoration: The Triumph of Job’s Wisdom (42:7-17)
Stylistic comparison of other ancient wisdom writings with Job reveals similarities, but also reveals Job’s uniqueness. The dialogue form of Job is paralleled to an extent in Egyptian and Babylonian wisdom poetry, and the various individual literary forms employed in Job (psalms of lament and thanksgiving, proverb, covenant oath, etc.) are not novelties. Nevertheless, as a masterly blend of a remarkably rich variety of forms, within a historical framework, with exquisite lyric and dramatic qualities, all devoted to didactic purpose, the Book of Job creates its own literary species. Of particular significance is the bracketing of the poetic dialogue within the prose (or better, semipoetic) prologue and epilogue. This A-B-A structure is found elsewhere (e.g.,, The Eloquent Peasant) and thus supports the book’s integrity.
Job proclaims the fundamental stipulation of the covenant, a call for perfect consecration to our covenant head, the Lord. This call is issued through a dramatization of a crisis in redemptive history. God challenges Satan to behold in Job the triumph of divine grace. This faithful servant epitomizes the fulfillment of God’s evangelical decree, which even at first took the form of an imprecatory challenge to the Tempter (
The particular purpose of the Book of Job as Wisdom Literature is to articulate and point the direction for a true apologetic for the faith. The doctrine of God as incomprehensible Creator and sovereign Lord is offered as the fundamental reality man must reckon with as a religious being serving God amid the historical tensions of life. It is also the presupposition with which a philosophical being bent on interpretative adventure must begin. This enterprise is illustrated by the debate of Job and his friends over the problem of theodicy (God’s goodness versus evil). The folly of depending for answers on human observation and speculation is portrayed by the silencing of the trio who represent it. The Book of Job identifies the way of the covenant with the way of wisdom (cf.
No comprehensive answer is given to the problem of suffering since theodicy is not the book’s major theme; nevertheless, considerable light is given. Elihu traces the mystery to the principle of divine grace: sufferings are a sovereign gift, calling to repentance and life. Moreover, impressive assurance is given that God, as a just and omnipotent covenant Lord, will ultimately visit both the curses and blessings of the covenant on his subjects according to righteousness. Especially significant are the insights Job himself attains into the role God will play as his heavenly vindicator, redeeming his name from all slander and his life from the king of terrors. Job utters in raw faith what is later revealed in the doctrines of eschatological theophany: resurrection of the dead and the final judgment. This vision does not reveal the why of the particular sufferings of Job or any other believer, but it does present the servants of God with a framework for hope.
Bibliography: M. H. Pope, Job (AB), 1965; E. P. Dhorme, Commentary on the Book of Job, 1967; F. I. Andersen, Job: An Introduction and Commentary (TOTC), 1976.——MGK
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
|| I. INTRODUCTORY
1. Place in the Canon
2. Rank and Readers
II. THE LITERARY FRAMEWORK
1. Setting of Time, Place and Scene
2. Characters and Personality
3. Form and Style
III. THE COURSE OF THE STORY
A) To Job’s Blessing and Curse
1. His "Autumn Days"
2. The Wager in Heaven
3. The Silent Friends
4. Whose Way Is Hid
B) To Job’s Ultimatum of Protest
1. The Veiled Impeachment
2. Wisdom Insipid, Friends Doubtful
3. Crookedness of the Order of Things
4. No Mediation in Sight
C) To Job’s Ultimatum of Faith
1. Detecting the Friends’ False Note
2. Staking Everything on Integrity
3. "If a Man Die"
4. The Surviving
D) To Job’s Verdict on Things as They Are
1. Climax and Subsidence of the Friends’ Charge
2. The Real Cause of Job’s Dismay
3. Manhood in the Ore
4. Job Reads His Indictment
E) The Denouement
1. The Self-constituted Interpreter
2. The Whirlwind and the Voice
3. The Thing That Is Right
4. The Restored Situation
IV. THE PROBLEM AND THE PURPOSE
1. Beyond the Didactic Tether
2. What Comes of Limiting the Purpose
3. The Book’s Own Import of Purpose
4. Problem of the Intrinsic Man
V. CONSIDERATIONS OF AGE AND SETTING
1. Shadowy Contacts with History
2. Place in Biblical Literature
3. Parallels and Echoes
1. Place in the Canon:
The greatest production of the Hebrew Wisdom literature, and one of the supreme literary creations of the world. Its place in the Hebrew Canon corresponds to the high estimation in which it was held; it stands in the 3rd section, the "writings" (kethubhim) or Hagiographa, next after the two great anthologies Psalms and Proverbs; apparently put thus near the head of the list for weighty reading and meditation. In the Greek Canon (which ours follows), it is put with the poetical books, standing at their head. It is one of 3 Scripture books, the others being Psalms and Proverbs, for which the later Hebrew scholars (the Massoretes) employed a special system of punctuation to mark its poetic character.
2. Rank and Readers:
The Job) is mentioned as a well-known national type by
II. The Literary Framework.
In view of the numerous critical questions by which the interpretation of the book has been beclouded--questions of later alterations, additions, corruptions, dislocations--it may be well to say at the outset that what is here proposed is to consider the Book of Job as we have it before us today, in its latest and presumably definitive edition. It will be time enough to remove excrescences when a fair view of the book as it is, with its literary values and relations, makes us sure that there are such; see III, below. Meanwhile, as a book that has reached a stage so fixed and finished that at any rate modern tinkering cannot materially change it, we may consider what its literary framework does to justify itself. And first of all, we may note that preeminently among Scripture books it bears the matured literary stamp; both in style and structure it is a work, not only of spiritual edification, but of finished literary article This may best be realized, perhaps, by taking it, as from the beginning it purports to be, as a continuously maintained story, with the consistent elements of plot, character scheme, and narrative movement which we naturally associate with a work of the narrator’s article
1. Setting of Time, Place and Scene:
The story of the Book of Job is laid in the far-off patriarchal age, such a time as we find elsewhere represented only in the Book of Genesis; a time long before the Israelite state, with its religious, social and political organization, existed. Its place is "the land of Uz," a little-known region Southeast of Palestine, on the borders of Edom; a place remote from the ways of thinking peculiar to Israelite lawgivers, priests and prophets. Its scene is in the free open country, among mountains, wadies, pasture-lands, and rural towns, where the relations of man and man are more elemental and primitive, and where the things of God are more intimately apprehended than in the complex affairs of city and state. It is easy to see what the writer gains by such a choice of setting. The patriarchal conditions, wherein the family is the social and communal unit, enable him to portray worship and conduct in their primal elements: religious rites of the simplest nature, with the family head the unchallenged priest and intercessor (compare
2. Characters and Personality:
All the characters of the story, Job included, are from non-Palestinian regions. The chief spokes-man of the friends, Eliphaz, who is from Teman, is perhaps intended to represent a type of the standard and orthodox wisdom of the day; Teman, and Edom in general being famed for wisdom (
3. Form and Style:
III. The Course of the Story.
To divide the story of Job into 42 parts, according to the 42 numbered chapters, is in the last degree arbitrary. Nothing comes of it except convenience in reading for those who wish to take their Job in little detached bits. The chapter division was no part of the original, and a very insignificant step in the later apprehension of the original. To divide according to the speeches of the interlocutors is better; it helps us realize how the conflict of views brought the various phases of the thought to expression; but this too, with its tempting, three-times-three, turns out to be merely a framework; it corresponds only imperfectly with the true inwardness of the story’s movement; it is rather a scheme than a continuity. We are to bear in mind that this Book of Job is fundamentally the inner experience of one man, as he rises from the depths of spiritual gloom and doubt to a majestic table-land of new insight and faith; the other characters are but ancillary, helps and foils, whose function is subordinate and relative. Hence, mindful of this inwardness of Job’s experience, I have ventured to trace the story in 5 main stages, naming them according to the landing-stage attained in each.
A) To Job’s Blessing and Curse:
1. His "Autumn Days":
The story begins (
2. The Wager in Heaven:
Nor is the test delayed, or its ground ambiguous when it comes. Satan proposes it. Two scenes are given (
3. The Silent Friends:
We are now to imagine the lapse of some time, perhaps several months (compare
4. Whose Way Is Hid:
The man who, in the first onset of trial, blessed Yahweh and set himself to bear in silence now opens his mouth to curse. His curse is directed, not against Yahweh nor against the order of things, but against the day of his birth. It is a day that has ceased to have meaning or worth for him. The day stands for life, for his individual life, a life that in the order of things should carry out the personal promise and fruitage for which it had been bestowed. And his quarrel with it is that he has lost its clue. Satan unknown to him has sneered because Yahweh had hedged him round with protection and favor (
B) To Job’s Ultimatum of Protest:
1. The Veiled Impeachment:
With all the gentle regret of having to urge a disagreeable truth the friends, beginning with Eliphaz the wisest and most venerable, enter upon their theory of the case. Eliphaz covers virtually the whole ground; the others come in mainly to echo or emphasize. He veils his reproof in general and implicatory terms, the seasoned terms of wisdom in which Job himself is expert (4:3-5); reminds him that no righteous man perishes, but that men reap what they sow (4:7,8); adduces a vision that he had had which revealed to him that man, by the very fact of being mortal, is impure and iniquitous (4:17-19); implies that Job’s turbulence of mind precludes him from similar revelations, and jeopardizes his soul (5:1,2); advises him to commit his case to God, with the implication, however, that it is a case needing correction rather than justification, and that the result in view is restored comfort and prosperity. As Job answers with a more passionate and detailed portrayal of his wrong, Bildad, following, abandons the indirect impeachment and attributes the children’s death to their sin (8:4), saying also that if Job were pure and upright he might supplicate and regain God’s favor (8:5,6). He then goes on to draw a lesson from the traditional Wisdom lore, to the effect that sure destruction awaits the wicked and sure felicity the righteous (
2. Wisdom Insipid, Friends Doubtful:
To the general maxims of Wisdom urged against him, with which he is already familiar (compare
3. Crookedness of the Order of things:
With the sense that the old theories have become stale and pointless, though his discernment of the evil of things is undulled by sin (
4. No Mediation in Sight:
The great lack which Job feels in his arraignment of God is the lack of mediation between Creator and creature, the Oppressor and His victim. There is no umpire between them, who might lay his hand upon both, so that the wronged one might have voice in the matter (9:32-35). The two things that an umpire might do: to remove God’s afflicting hand, and to prevent God’s terror from unmanning His victim (see 13:20-22, as compared with the passage just cited), are the great need to restore normal and reciprocal relations with Him whose demand of righteousness is so inexorable. This umpire or advocate idea, thus propounded negatively, will grow to a sublime positive conviction in the next stage of Job’s spiritual progress (16:19; 19:25-27).)
C) To Job’s Ultimatum of Faith: 1. Detecting the Friends’ False Note:
As the friends finish their first round of speeches, in which a remote and arbitrary God is urged upon him as everything, and man so corrupt and blind that he cannot but be a worm and culprit (compare
2. Staking All on Integrity:
Having cut loose from all countenancing of the friends’ self-interested motives, Job now, with the desperate sense of taking his life in his hand and abandoning hope, resolves that come what will he will maintain his ways to God’s face. This, as he believes, is not only the one course for his integrity, but his one plea of salvation, for no false one shall appear before him. How tremendous the meaning of this resolve, we can think when we reflect how he has just taken God in hand to amend His supposed iniquitous order of things; and that he is now, without mediator, pleading the privilege that a mediator would secure (13:20,21; see ''''8, above) and urging a hearing on his own charges. The whole reach of his sublime faith is involved in this.
3. "If a Man Die":
In two directions his faith is reaching out; in both negatively at first. One, the belief in an Advocate, has already been broached, and is germinating from negative to positive. The other, the question of life after death, rises here in the same tentative way: using first the analogy of the tree which sprouts again after it is cut down (
4. The Surviving Next of Kin:
The conviction comes by a nobler way than fancy, by the way of his personal sense of the just and God-like order. The friends in their second round of speeches have begun their lurid portrayals of the wicked man’s awful fate; but until all have spoken again he is concerned with a far more momentous matter. Dismissing these for the present as an academic exercise composed in cold blood (
D) To Job’s Verdict on Things as They Are:
1. Climax and Subsidence of the Friends’ Charge:
That in this conviction of a living Redeemer Job’s faith has reached firm and final ground is evident from the fact that he does not recur to his old doubts at all. They are settled, and settled right. But now, leaving them, he can attend to what the friends have been saying. Zophar, the third speaker, following, presses to vehement, extreme their iterated portrayal of the wicked man’s terrific woes; it seems the design of the writer to make them outdo themselves in frantic overstatement of their thesis. As Zophar ceases, and Job has thus, as it were, drawn all their fire, Job refutes them squarely, as we shall presently see. Meanwhile, in the course of his extended refutation, the friends begin a third round of speeches. Eliphaz, who has already taken alarm at the tendency of Job’s words, as those of a depraved skeptic and ruinous to devotion (15:4-6), now in the interests of his orthodoxy brings in his bill of particulars. It is the kind of theoretical cant that has had large prevalence in dogmatic religion, but in Job’s case atrociously false. He accuses Job of the most heartless cruelties and frauds (22:5-11), and of taking occasion to indulge in secret wickedness when God was not looking (22:12-14); to this it is that he attributes the spiritual darkness with which Job is encompassed. Then in a beautiful exhortation--beautiful when we forget its unreal condition (22:23)--he ends by holding open to Job The way of reinstatement and peace. This is the last word of the friends that has any weight. Bildad follows Job’s next speech indeed very briefly (
2. The Real Cause of Job’s Dismay:
The idea that Job has a defensible cause or sees farther than they is wholly lost on the friends; to them he is simply a wicked man tormented by the consciousness of guilt, and they attribute the tumult of his thoughts to a wrath, or vexation, which blinds and imperils his soul (compare 5:2; 18:4). That is not the cause of his dismay at all, nor is it merely that his personal fate is inscrutable (compare 23:17 margin). He is confounded rather, even to horror, because the probable facts of the world-order prove the utter falsity of all that they allege. Leaving his case, the righteous man’s, out of the account, he sees the wicked just as prosperous, just as secure, just as honored in life and death, as the righteous (21:5-15,29-33). The friends ought to see so plain a fact as well as he (21:29). To all outward appearance there is absolutely no diversity of fate between righteous and wicked (21:23-26). The friends’ cut-and-dried Wisdom-doctrine and their thrifty haste to justify God (compare 13:7,8) have landed them in a lie; the truth is that God has left His times mysterious to men (24:1). They may as well own to the full the baffling fact of the impunity of wickedness; the whole of
3. Manhood in the Ore:
In some such dim inquiry as this, it would seem, Job goes on from where his friends sit silenced to figure some positive solution of things as they are. He begins with himself and his steadfastly held integrity, sealing his utterance by the solemn Hebrew oath (27:2-6), and as solemnly disavowing all part or sympathy with the wicked (27:7; compare 21:16). He has already found a meaning in his own searching experience; he is being tried for a sublime assay, in which all that is permanent and precious in him shall come out as gold (23:10). But this thought of manhood in the ore is no monopoly of his; it may hold for all. What then of the wicked? In a passage which some have deemed the lost third speech of Zophar (27:8-23), and which, indeed, recounts what all the friends have seen (27:12), he sets forth the case of the wicked in its true light. The gist of it is that the wicked have not the joy of God (27:10), or the peace of a permanent hope. It is in much the same tone as the friends’ diatribes, but with a distinct advance from outward disaster toward tendency and futility. The ore is not being purged for a noble assay; and this will work their woe. Then finally, in the celebrated
4. Job Reads His Indictment:
As the crowning pronouncement on things as they are, Job in his final and longest speech, describes in a beautiful retrospect his past life, from his "autumn days" when the friendship of God was over his tent and he was a counselor and benefactor among men (
E) The Denoucement:
1. The Self-constituted Interpreter:
For this determining pronouncement the writer has chosen to have both parties definitely represented, apparently at their best. So, instead of proceeding at once to the summons from the whirlwind, he introduces here a new character, Elihu, a young man, who has listened with growing impatience to the fruitless discussion, and now must set both parties right or burst (
2. The Whirlwind and the Voice:
The writer of the book has not committed the literary fatuity of describing the whirlwind, except as Elihu has seen its oncoming, first with conceit of knowledge, then with wild access of terror--a description in which his essentially vapid personality is reflected. For the readers the significance of the whirlwind is in the Voice it encloses, the thing it says. And here the writer has undertaken the most tremendous task ever attempted by the human imagination: to make the Almighty speak, and speak in character. And one fatuity at least he has escaped; he has not made God bandy arguments with men, or piece together the shifting premises of logic. The whole of the two discourses from the whirlwind is descriptive; a recounting of observable phenomena of created nature, from the great elemental things, earth and sea and light and star and storm, to the varied wonders of animal nature--all things in which the questing mind of man may share, laying hold in his degree on its meaning or mystery. Thus, as a sheer literary personation, it fails at no point of the Godlike. It begins with a peremptory dismissal of Elihu: "Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?" (
3. The Thing That Is Right:
Two of the parties in the story have met the august theophany, and it has wrought its effect on them according to the spirit of the man. The self-constituted interpreter, Elihu, has collapsed as suddenly as he swelled up and exhibited himself. The man of integrity, Job, has reached the beatific goal of his quest. What now of the friends who came from far to confirm their Wisdom, and who were so sure they were defending the mind of God? they are not left without a sufficing word, addressed straight to their spokesman Eliphaz (
4. The Restored Situation:
Here certain myopic students of the Book of Job think the story should end. It offends them, apparently, to see Satan’s work undone; if they had had the making of the story they would have left Job still suffering, as if disinterested virtue could not be its own reward without it. The author, at least the final author, evidently did not think so; in the ideals and sanctions that prevailed in his age he knew better what he was about. It is not my business to cut the book to modern pattern, but to note what is there. Job is restored to health, to double his former wealth, to family and honor and a ripe old age. These were what the friends predicted for him on condition of his owning to guilt and calling injustice desert; but in no word of his has he intimated that worldly reinstatement was his wish or his object, the contrary rather. And what he sought he obtained, in richer measure than he sought; obtained it still in suffering, and on earth, "in the place where may see" (compare 34:26 margin). It is no discount to the value of this, nor on the other hand is it an essential addition, to express it not only in spiritual terms, but in terms current among men. And one fundamental thing this restored situation shows, or at least takes for granted, namely, that the quarrel has not been with Wisdom itself, its essence or its sanctions, but only with its encroaching false motive. Deepened, not invaded, its Newtonian law that it is well with the righteous, ill with the wicked, remains intact, an external sanction to live by, in spite of temporal exceptions. A spiritual principle of great significance, too, seems to be indicated, as it were, furtively, in the words, "And Yahweh turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends." He had stood on his integrity demanding his right, and became a self-loathing penitent; out of dust and ashes he prayed for his friends, and became again such a power in health and wealth as he had been in his "autumn days."
IV. The Problem and the Purpose.
1. Beyond the Didactic Tether:
If the foregoing section has rightly shown that the main thrust and interest of the Book of Job lies not in its debate but in its narrative, we have therein the best clue to its problem and its purpose. The sublime self-portrayal of a man who held fast his integrity against God and man and death and darkness tells its own story and teaches its own lesson, beyond the power of didactic propositions or deductions to compass. The book is not a sermon but a vital, throbbing uprising of the human spirit. It is warm with the life of sound manhood; the inner life with its hopes, its doubts, its convictions, its supreme affiance; to impose on this any tether of didacticism is to chili its spirit and make it dogmatic and academic. The reading of its problem which mainly holds the field today is expressed in the question, "Why does God afflict the righteous?" and so the book is resolved into a theodicy, a justification of God’s ways with man. Well the friends of Job do their best to make their interpretation a theodicy, even outraging palpable fact to do it; they monopolize the didactic element of the poem; but their chief contention is that God does not afflict the righteous but the wicked, and that Job is a flagrant case in point who adds rebellion to his sin (compare 34:37). Job does not know why God afflicts the righteous; he only knows that it is a grievous fact, which to him seems utterly un-Godlike. God knows, undoubtedly, but He does not tell. Yet all the while an answer to the question is shaping itself in personality, in intrinsic manhood, in the sturdy truth and loyalty of Job’s spirit. So, going beyond the didactic tether, we may say that in a deeper sense God is justified after all; if such a result of desperate trial is possible in man, it is worth all the rigor of the experiment. But it is as truly an anthropodicy (excuse the word!) as a theodicy; it puts the essential man on a plane above all that Satan can prove by his lying sneers of self-interest, or the friends’ poisoning of the wells by their theory of natural depravity. It comes back after all to the story of Job; he lives the answer to the problem, his personality is the teaching.
2. What Comes of Limiting the Purpose:
It is from this point of view that we can best judge of the critical attacks that have been made on the structure and coherence of the Book of Job. The book has suffered its full share of negative disintegration at the hands of the critics; mostly subjective it seems to me, coming from a too restricted view of its problem and purpose, or from lack of that long patient induction which will not be content until it sees all the elements of its creative idea in fitting order and proportion. To limit the purpose to the issue of a debated theodicy, is to put some parts in precarious tenure; accordingly, there are those to whom the Epilogue seems a superfluity, the Prologue an afterthought,
3. The Book’s Own Import of Purpose:
We are not left in the dark as to the large purpose of the Book of Job, if we will follow its own indications consistently. Satan’s question at the beginning, "Doth Job fear God for nought?" sets us on the track of it. To give that question a Godlike and not a Satanic answer, to prove in the person of Job That man has it in him to make his life an unbought loyalty to the Divine, is a purpose large enough to include many subsidiary purposes. But behind this appears, on the part of the author, a purpose which relates his story intimately to the intellectual tendencies of his day. The book embodies, especially in theories of the friends, a searching epitome of the status to which the wisdom philosophy of his time had arrived. That philosophy was a nobly founded theory of life; Job himself had been and continued (compare 28:28) thoroughly at one with it. Soundly identified with righteousness and piety, Wisdom had in religious idiom defined the elements of right and wrong living, and had in no uncertain terms fixed its sanctions of reward and penalty. But from a warm, pulsating life it had become an orthodoxy. Its rigid world had room for only two classes of men: the righteous, bound for the sure rewards of life; the wicked, bound for sure failure and destruction. It brooked no real exception to this austere law of being. But two grave evils were invading its system. One was its hard blindness to facts, or, what is as bad, its determination at all hazards to explain them away. From the psalms of the period (compare e.g. Psalms 37; 49; 73) we can see how the evident happiness and prosperity of the wicked was troubling devout minds. The other was that under this prevailing philosophy life was becoming too cold-blooded and calculable a thing, a virtual feeder of self-interest. The doubt lay very near whether conduct so sanctioned was a thing intrinsic and sincere or a thing bought and sold. This equivocal state of things could not long endure. Sooner or later Satan’s question of motive must stab it to the heart; and we may be sure that to the author of the book the impulse to ask the question was not all Satanic. The interests of true wisdom, no less than of skepticism, demanded that the question of inner motive be raised and solved. Nay, Yahweh Himself, whom Satan mocked as abettor of the situation, was on trial. Have we not material here, then, for a sublime purpose, a mighty epic of test and trial and victory? Out of it, not Job alone, but Wisdom must emerge purified, enlightened, spiritualized.
4. Problem of the Intrinsic Man:
So much for the purpose of the book. The problem corresponds to it. If we take it as the baffling problem of suffering, or more specifically why God afflicts the righteous, the sufficing answer is, Job is why. To give such essential integrity as his its ultimate proof and occasion is worth the injustice and the unmerited pain. In other words, the problem is more deeply concerned with man’s intrinsic nature than with God’s mysterious dealings. When God created man in His own image, did He endow him most fundamentally with the spirit of commercialism, or with the spirit of unbought loyalty to the Godlike? And when created man was made fallible and mortal, did that mean an inescapable inherent depravity, or was the potency of noblest manhood still left at the center of his being? Here again Job is the embodied answer. The friends, veritable Calvinists before Calvin, urge depravity; they would exalt God by making man His utter contrast. But Job’s stedfast integrity proves that man, one man at least, is at heart sound and true. And if one man, then the potency of soundness exists in manhood. The book is indeed a theodicy; but still more truly it is a boldly maintained anthropodicy, a vindication of the intrinsic worth of man.
V. Considerations of Age and Setting.
1. Shadowy Contacts with History:
2. Place in Biblical Literature:
If the Book of Job is a product of the time of Jehoiachin’s imprisonment, it is in worthy and congenial literary company. Isaiah, fostering the faith of a new-born spiritual "remnant," had gathered the elements of that sublime vision (
3. Parallels and Echoes:
A.B. Davidson, "The Book or Job" (Cambridge Bible for Schools), 1884; A.S. Peake, "Job" (New Century Bible), 1905; S.R. Driver, The Book of Job in the, 1906; J. T. Marshall, The Book of Job, 1904; J.F. Genung,. Epic of the Inner Life, 1891; G.G. Bradley, Lectures on Job in , 1887; F.C. Cook in The Speaker’s Commentary, 1882. Among German writers, A. Dillmann, Hiob erklart, 1891; K. Budde, Das Buch Hiob ubersetzt und erklart, 1896 (see The Expositor T, VIII, iii); B. Duhm, Das Buch Hiob erklart, 1897; G. Beer, Der text des Buches Hiob untersucht, 1897; Gibson, "The Book of Job" (Oxford Commentaries), 1899.
John Franklin Genung