Friday, October 18, 2013

Job -- an introduction

Job was written by a gifted poet and theologian. The book was written to explore the problem of how a just God could allow the innocent to suffer. This is a modern as well as an ancient issue. Modern people also ask: Why are there innocent casualties in war, why do children get cancer, why is there AIDS? The author of Job, using great skill, artistry, and magnificent poetry, uses the older story of Job’s misfortunes and restoration as the framework for this extended discussion. The book of Job challenges the assumption that goodness is always rewarded with material prosperity while wickedness is punished with temporal suffering. Job maintains his integrity in the face of social pressure and cultural convention to eventually win an audience with God. The date of this book is uncertain but is generally dated in the 5th or 6th century BC. The author is unknown. The book of Job explores the question of why bad things happen to good people but leaves that question largely unanswered. Job reveals his anger and frustration in what he believes to be unjust punishment at the hand of God, and when he finally gets his audience with God, finds his question remains largely unanswered. 

Job can be outlined as follows:

·         Job 1 and 2      Introduction
·         Job 3-31          Poetic dialogue: these are three cycles of speeches between Job and his comforters
·         Job 28, 32-37  Speeches of Elihu reflecting an orthodox understanding
·         Job 38-42:6     Divine resolution
·         Job 42:7-17     Epilogue

Job teaches that the answer to life’s more difficult questions is not as important as making the effort to struggle with these questions. Some questions have no answers but the questioning is often part of the growth process.

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