The book of Job is regarded as a literature of wisdom. It is one of the books of the Old Testament. Through the years this book has been praised extravagantly. Luther ounces said that the book of Job is sublime and magnificent and that there is no other book of the scriptures that can be compared to it. Carlyle also making his contribution about the book of Job said that it has no equal in and out of the bible. The book of Job comprises of three sections: the prologue, epilogue and the conclusion. Both the prologue and epilogue are written on prose form. On the contrary, the midsection is written in a poetic fashion. These three sections are well related. The story reveals what the initial lifestyle of Job and what actually promoted the poetic meditation. This indicates that through the folk narrative at the beginning we are able to understand life situation of Job that led to the poetic meditation. There are several theological themes which are in this book of Job. These include relationship with God, suffering, vindication, sovereignty of God and the theme of reward and punishment. The purpose of this book is to address human suffering. From this book it is clear that calamities are not as a result of sin. Just as the rain they fall on both the just and unjust.
The book of Job is regarded as a literature of wisdom. It is one of the books of the Old Testament. Through the years this book has been praised extravagantly[CITATION Ber05 \l 1033 ]. Luther ounces said that the book of Job is sublime and magnificent and that there is no other book of the scriptures that can be compared to it. Carlyle also making his contribution about the book of Job said that it has no equal in and out of the bible[ CITATION Law84 \l 1033 ].
There is no definite date and place where the book of Job was written because the author/ authors give no hint of the circumstances at the time of writing the book[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ]. However based on its structure it is believed that it was written by more than one writer. The book of Job comprises of three sections. These are the introduction which is written in prose form, the middle poetic meditation section and the conclusion which as the epilogue is written in prose form. Generally the epilogue and the prologue are referred to as the prose. It is believed that initially the story of Job was passed orally. But latter it was documented. It is argued that the mid poetic section was an addition to substitute the original folktale. However there is a relation between the three sections (Bruce C Birch, 2005; Coogan, 2009).
Job was a God fearing man. God blessed him with good health, possession and long life something which didn’t go down well with Satan. In one of the assemblies in heaven Satan appears before God and accuses Job’s loyalty to God. Job is tempted, he losses all his wealth together with his children. His three friends are informed of Jobs calamities and come to comfort him[ CITATION Ger07 \l 1033 ]. During this period of suffering, Job cannot comprehend why all his things are happening to him and yet he feared God[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ]. In his lamentation he even curses the day he was born and from his outcry the picture of human suffering is clearly painted. Irrespective of his great suffering, Job never sinned against God. At the end of it all Job repented and God forgave him and whatever he had lost was retuned twice as much[ CITATION JGe95 \l 1033 \m Ber05]
The book of Job encompasses many theological themes. These are the theme of suffering, relationship with God, vindication and sovereignty of God. As such this book has wonderful lessons that the church and the Christians of today can harness.
Relationship between prologue, epilogue & poetic mid-section in the book of Job
As stated earlier the book of Job comprises of three sections: the prologue, epilogue and the conclusion. Both the prologue and epilogue are written on prose form. On the contrary, the midsection is written in a poetic fashion[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ]. Despite these differences Bible scholars unanimously agree that the author of the poetic section never invented the story by him/herself. In addition to the above stated difference, it is clear that the author of prologue used the name YHWH, while the author of the poetic mid-section used the term such as shadaii or Elohim meaning the Almighty[ CITATION Ste92 \l 1033 ]. Lastly the authors of the prose and the mid-section used different writing styles. The prologue and the epilogue are written in folktale appealing fashion while the mid part is written a manner and fashion similar to the literature of wisdom e.g. Ecclesiastes and proverbs[ CITATION Ger07 \l 1033 \m Ber05]. The poetic part of this book of Job helps the reader to capture the authors view point. However, this doesn’t mean that the proses are unrelated to the poetic section. As a matter of fact, the relationship between the prose narrative and the poetic mid-section is well defined. The fact that the poem is placed within the folktale enhances the effectiveness of the poem. The story reveals what the initial lifestyle of Job and what actually promoted the poetic meditation. This indicates that through the folk narrative at the beginning we are able to understand life situation of Job that led to the poetic meditation[ CITATION Mik09 \l 1033 \m Ber05]
It is believed that the author of this book of Job picked on a well-known folk tale and practically fixed the poetic section in between the prologue and the epilogue substituting the middle section which comprised of the dialogue between Job and his close three friends. The joining of the poetic meditation and the prose promote dissonance and harmony within this book[ CITATION Law84 \l 1033 ].
Structure, date, and authorship of the book of Job
The structure of the book is made up of three sections: the prologue, poetic meditation and the epilogue as said earlier. The epilogue and prologue are in prose form with the middle section written in poetic manner. The narrative at the beginning of the book of Job, introduces the reader to Job and his lifestyle. He was a man who was favored by God and yet he feared God. The narrative goes ahead to describe how the devil made accusation against Job and finally his bet with God. Job losses everything but his faith in God remains strong[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ]. This is depicted by Job’s confession. Y HWH gave and YHWH has taken blessed be to have of YHWH[ CITATION The03 \l 2057 ]. The devil still is not satisfied with Job loyalty to God, he proposes even a tougher test. Job is smitten with disgusting sores which make her wife to advise her to curse God and die. Job ignores his wife’s advice. Job’s friends then appear comforting Job in the middle poetic section. The poetic section is a dialogue between Job and his three friends; Eliphaz, Bildad and Zopha. In this dialogue, there are three cycles firstly Job starts by bitterly lamenting and cursing the day he was born and we see in Job 4-5 (The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, 2003)Eliphaz responses as well as Jobs rebuttal in Job 6-7[ CITATION The03 \l 2057 ].
Then Bildad responds to Job’s situation and finally Zophar then the friend advice Job. This closes the first cycle of dialogue. This is repeated until three cycles are realized after which we see Job having a monologue in Job 29-31[ CITATION The03 \l 1033 \m Wat97]. Towards the end/epilogue God clearly speaks to Job from wind whirl. Job acknowledges his sin and repents God then restores everything Job had twice as much after accepting his prayer Job 38:1-42:6[CITATION Ber05 \l 1033 ]
It is worth noting that in poetic section there is an amazing intrusion Job 32-37, is long poetic rebuke by Elihu to Job Elihu seems to come out nowhere since he is neither mentioned in the introduction nor at the conclusion to be one of Job’s friend and in the three cycles of dialogue between Job and his friend Elihu has nothing to say. Based on his name Eluhi can be identified as an Israelite of sound pedigree which was not to care with Job. So it is strongly believed that Elihu contribution was added latter by an author whose intension was to promote Orthodox Judaism more zealously as compared to the other three friends. In summary the structure of the book of Job is as follows; Prose prologue, three cycle of dialogue, YHWH answer from the wind whirl and finally the prose conclusion[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ].
It is difficult and equally impossible to determine to date and authorship of the book of Job. This is because the writer of the great book did not give any clue or hint in regard to the circumstance and events of the time[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ]. The author of this book didn’t illustrate any motif afflicted to Israelites faith just as the writer of Ecclesiastes. The hero depicted in this book a actually not an Israelites but an Edomite shelk from Uz located in Edom southern part of Palestine je 25:19-24, Lam 4:21. This is the same area where the friends of Job emanate from therefore the setting of this book is near the desert however this fact are yet to be proved[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ].
Based on the fact that the hero of this book is strongly believed to emanate from Edom indicate that originally this story of Job started in period before exile. In the sixth century BC the Edomites encroached the territory of Judea making the Jews to zealously date them and therefore the Job probably never circulated in this particular period. In reference to the poetic section, it is yet to be agreed if whether it was written during pre or post exile phase but an important clue is in regard to the relationship of the problem of Job is given by second Isaiah even though there are many things which don’t add up raising the question did Job depend on Isaiah or it is the other way round. Job was written after second Isaiah and sometimes in between Jeremiah and second Isaiah[CITATION Ber05 \l 1033 ].
The purpose of the book of Job is deal with the ever present human life problem: suffering and more especially of the innocent people. The issue of suffering and divine justice leads to a soul searching question which is also one of the themes of this book, what is the personal relationship with God? This matter is first brought out in the introduction where the devil claims that the relationship between Job and God is based on the blessing and long life that God has given Job. However this is not the case. Even after Job losing his family and all his wealth, his relationship with God is not broken as a matter of fact at the end of everything it is strengthened[ CITATION Kat07 \l 1033 \m Ger07].
During the dialogue between Job and his three friends, the theme of reward and punishment is brought forward. According to this principle, prosperity, long life and health are reward for virtue. On the other hand, untimely death, poverty and sickness are reward for wickedness[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ]. The conversation between the four starts with Job lamenting and his outcry paints out a clear picture of the painful human suffering. According to Job, suffering is more painful than physical death. Eliphaz and the other two friends in an effort to comfort Job suggest that Job is the one with sin. Actually, Eliphaz tell Job that all men have sinned and as such Job should repent of his sins ad the suffering will come to an end. However Job adamantly insists that he is innocent. The three friends try to defend the Gods majesty by trying to demonstrate in any way possible the formula of punishment and reward. The three finally accuse Job of being proud and not accepting the fact that humankind has limitation. In addition they tell Job if he is honest enough he will admit that God actually punished him for his sins[CITATION Ber05 \l 1033 ].
In the book of Job there is the theme of vindication. As recorded in Job 13:24, Job was disturbed by the fact that he cannot see God to argue his case out. In Job23:3-7, Job envisions a very big gap that is in between God who is the creator and His creation. Regardless of this, Job acknowledges that Gods wisdom surpasses the wisdom of man and that God is sovereign. On the other hand man lives on earth and he is dominated by sin and death. Through the suffering Job has faith that a day will come when he will be reconciled to God and that the gap in between will be bridged by a mediator. According to Job his vindicator, Messiah, will restore the broken relationship between him and God.
Through his suffering, Job becomes curious and he intends to find out the meaning of life from human perspective. The questions that Job asks clearly show that he is convinced that he is a man of integrity. And in references to his friend’s accusation he is blameless Job 27:5-6. Job in conclusion gives a detailed defense of his high moral standard portraying his life as one of righteousness[CITATION Kat07 \m Ber05 \l 1033 ].
Lastly the book of Job brings out the theme of theodicy which is a philosophical explaination for the suffering of the righteous and rational of God in allowing the evil [ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ]. YHWH speaks in a wind whirl in reference to Jobs accusations. God asks Job ironical questions in order to disapprove his questions. According to Job 38:1-40:2 and Job 40:6-41:34[ CITATION The03 \l 1033 ], God responds by giving Job two answers. Firstly, God declared that He is the creator of the universe and He created it even before m an existed and therefore it is unsound for His creation (Job) to accuse God Job 38:4-7. Secondly God being the creator upholds the entire universe by His power.
These two answers that God gave Job bring out the theme of sovereignty of God. From these answers God rebukes Job and reminds His that it is the duty of man to glorify and acknowledge the creator[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ].
Finally there is the theme of repentance[ CITATION Ber05 \l 2057 ]. After God’s rebuke Job is silenced and he acknowledges that he cannot argue with the creator (God) Job 40:3-5. Job thus humbly and remorsefully repents. God forgives him and everything that Job lost in the calamity is restored in double fold Job 42:3, 5, and 6[ CITATION The03 \l 1033 ].
5.0 Moral lesion to today’s church and world.
There is no resolution given by the book of Job in regard to the problem of suffering. However, this book has made such an immense contribution to the understanding of this theology. In reference to this book, there are several lessons the modern church can learn. First and foremost it should be understood that calamities or suffering should not be seen as punishment to sin committed by man. This is because even Job despite being righteous and God fearing calamities befell him. He lost his family and all his possession. Just as the rain falls on both the just and unjust so does calamities. Therefore suffering should not be taken as an indication of sin. The second important lesson that the church should learn is that in life what is important is not the situation of the suffering we pass through but rather our relationship with God.
No matter what kind of suffering one is undergoing one should be encourages since our lives are in God’s hands Ps 31:15 and that God will bring good out of evil just as in the case of Job.
In conclusion the most important thing in life is to have a relationship with God, one that is of total surrender and trust rather than a ‘relationship with God’ based on concepts and teaching from traditions.
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