The Ancient Book of Job


The ancient book of Job is one of the most widely venerated texts of antiquity. Both the literary construction of the book and the existent content addressed in the text contribute to its magnificence. The Old Testament book of Job is a composing from the ancient universe, which has been recognized as a canonical book of the Bible by Jewish and Christian governments likewise. This procedure of canonisation is, of class, related to other interesting facets under consideration in this essay: viz. , the reading and authorization of the text of Job. All of these issues and the issues which underlie them will be explored in this essay. As one might conceive of, the text of Job has been the topic of much treatment throughout the centuries and the present twenty-four hours is no exclusion to this general norm. Once these preliminary issues have been dealt with, we will travel on to the secondary issues of divinity in Job, particularly as respects the agony of the inexperienced person and how this issue relates to both God and adult male.

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Basic Literary Facts Refering to the Text of Job

The writing of Job is unknown. There is no thorough consensus as to who wrote the book, either originally or in its concluding province as appears, for illustration, in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It has been assumed that owing to the complex construction of Job, which has at times been taken to be slightly helter-skelter, the text must hold undergone many insertions and alterations before looking in its concluding province as it was found in the caves of Qumran. In the late publishedJudaic Study Bible, the editors operate under the premise that the text of Job, like other Old Testament texts, must hold undergone important alterations by several writers before looking in its concluding received province ( Berlin and Brettler, 1500 ) . It is mentioned that the construction holds no discernible form because the form that is begun in the poetic subdivision of the book ( 3:1-26:14 ) is repeated thrice but without the concluding address of Zophar at the terminal of the 3rd rhythm. Besides, this form is disrupted by a really drawn-out discourse by Job and the debut of a new character ( Elihu ) towards the terminal of the book with his ain discourse. Additionally, instead than being a simply dialectical book, Job opens with a narrative prologue ( 1:1-2:13 ) and ends with a narrative epilogue ( 42:7-17 ) , both of which serve as short bookends to the instead big poetical stuff in between.

As has been noted, some bookmans take these few literary facts as evidently betokening alteration and insertion throughout the old ages, instead than presuming that one original writer ( or group of writers ) composed the text in precisely the manner in which it appears today. This is the place of the editors of theJudaic Study Bible. One failing of this position, nevertheless, is the aforesaid fact that there is no manuscript grounds of changes over clip. The book of Job was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in the same literary province in which it exists today, and this is surely the oldest extant transcript of Job. If there is no manuscript grounds, merely internal grounds within the book itself ( as respects its evident deficiency of construction ) , so is it sensible to presume that the text as it is today is non about wholly the text as it was originally laid down?

Possibly there is a definable construction to the book, and possibly farther, such a construction is besides mirrored in the antediluvian near eastern Hagiographas of the clip. It is possible to give discernible construction to Job, as the late professor of Old Testament at the University of Toronto, R. K. Harrison, has noted (Old Testament,1028 ) . We have already mentioned the ancient usage of utilizing narrative bookends to envelop the poetical duologue. Harrison notes that this is an ancient near eastern manner of authorship, implying that there is nil particular about the signifier in this regard ( 1023-4 ) . Refering the three duologues it is widely acknowledged that there are three unit of ammunitions looking from Job 3:1-26:14. Round one appears from 4:1-14:22. Round two of the duologues is found from 15:1-21:34, and unit of ammunition three is from 22:1-26:14. The lone distinctive feature so far is that Zophar makes no retort at the terminal of unit of ammunition three. Continuing with the motive of three, it could be said that after the three duologues there are three discourses: by Job ( 27:1-31:40 ) , Elihu ( 32:1-37:24 ) , and eventually God ( 38:1-42:6 ) . Although Job responds to God during the discourse of the Almighty, his responses are far shorter than the discourses brought out by God. All of this construction would be consistent with the averment of Berlin and Brettler that “The book of Job takes the signifier of a symposium, ” ( 1499 ) .

One statement suggested by the Old Testament bookman Gleason Archer sing the editorship of Job, even if the original writing is undetermined, is that of Mosaic digest and redaction. This will take of course to treatment of the day of the month of the book of Job, but first allow us present Archer’s logical thinking for doing Moses a possibility as respects being an editor and compiler of the text of Job (A Survey of Old Testament, 440 ) . [ 1 ] It would do sense of a figure of interesting facts about the book and its response by the Judaic people. The theory is that Moses found the text in Aramaic and judged it worthwhile to interpret into Hebrew. Although it could non be said that Job has a Mosaic manner of authorship, this theory would account for the undermentioned facts instead good. First, in some manner the Jews came in contact with this book as a venerable authorship. Being handed over from the manus of Moses would immediately give the text a venerable position. Second, the venerable text finally gained canonical position as a divine/human work. Again, something instead strong would hold to do this option of canonicity a plausibleness. Third, as every bookman notes, there is decidedly a patriarchal scene to the book of Job as a whole, and Moses came on the heels of the patriarchal period of the close E. ( Moses is frequently thought to hold lived in either fifteenth or 13th century B.C. , depending on the bookman. ) Fourth, there is an “Aramaic spirit in some of the nomenclature and manners of look exhibited by the text, ” ( Archer, 440 ) .

Sing the day of the month of the composing of the book, there are three chief positions that have significant support among scriptural bookmans. The first is mentioned above. The 2nd is during the reign of Solomon, which is late first millenary B.C. ( This second option has been held by non a few outstanding Christian bookmans throughout history: e.g. , St. Gregory Nazianzen, Martin Luther, and the writers of the 10 volumeCommentary on the Old Testament: Keil and Delitzsch. ) The 3rd, which is advocated by many bookmans today and is the place of the editors of theJudaic Study Bibleis that of post-Exilic writing being sometime between mid 6th century and mid 4th century B.C. As the editors note, there are manyhapax legomena( words or phrases looking merely one time ) happening in Job ( 1500 ) . Besides, the use of the name of the evil one asha-satan( the Adversary ) has a opposite number in another late Old Testament authorship: Zechariah, chapter three. Additionally, as Archer points out, the use of the rubricShaddai“the Almighty one” to mention to God in the book of Job is immensely legion when compared with the remainder of the Old Testament. The rubric occurs 31 times in Job, even though it merely occurs 16 times in the other books of the Old Testament! This, once more, seems to talk of an outside beginning to this book ( i.e. , outside of Judaic writers who systematically use either the name of God ‘YHWH’ or the Hebrew rubric ofElohimby which to mention to the Divine Being ) . It is possible that this Godhead rubric might besides assist to focus on in on a likely day of the month and location of the writing of the book of Job. But, this remains to be seen.

As mentioned above, the book of Job has long entertained canonical position among Hebrews and Christians. Biblical scholars Norman Geisler and William Nix indicate that it was among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are every bit early as 3rd century B.C. (General Introduction to the Bible,363 ) . It is besides in the Septuagint ( or “LXX” ) , which is besides merely as early ( Harrison, 1022 ) , which was a Hebrew canon and interlingual rendition of the Sacred Scriptures into Greek. This LXX canon was adopted by the early church as good. Job himself is mentioned explicitly in both the Old and New Testaments, which would farther give acceptance to the canonicity of the book ( see Ezekiel 14:14, 20 ; James 5:11 ) . Further, if there is in any manner Mosaic or Solomonic digest involved in the book of Job, this would do its canonicity a close forgone decision, as respects thehowof the canonicity inquiry.Thatthe book of Job is canonical has already been moderately stated here and we need non research it further.

Interpreting Job in the Light of Suffering

The basic subject of the book of Job is brought out in reply to the inquiry, “Why do the righteous suffer? ” The book explores in some item the agony of the godly here on Earth and the sovereignty of God both here and afterlife. Harmonizing to Old Testament bookman Gleason Archer, the book trades with the theoretical job of hurting in the life of the godly. In response to the undermentioned inquiry, “Why do the righteous suffer? ” , the reply comes in a treble signifier: ( 1 ) God is ever worthy of love whether or non he blesses ( 2 ) God may exert the freedom to allow enduring “as a agency of sublimating and beef uping the psyche in godliness” ( 3 ) God’s ways are excessively huge for the ace finite head of adult male to grok. Though adult male is incapable of seeing the issues of life with the deepness and lucidity of the Almighty ; however God knows ( and presumptively does ) what is best for recognizing His ain glorification every bit good as man’s ultimate good (A Survey, 438 ) .

Interestingly, Lasor, Hubbard and Bush in theirOld Testament Surveytext point out that the freedom of God is a primary philosophy singled out in the book of Job ( 493 ) . Specifically, God is free to run the personal businesss of the existence in the mode that He Judgess as best. He is non bound by the cause-effect relationship by which Job’s friends want to believe that He is bound. God is the concluding and ultimate justice who will convey, in the terminal, justness to all. But, in the mode in which God chooses to direct the existence, he is free to make it as he knows is best, whatever that entails, including the forfeit of mechanistic relationships, ( 494 ) .

Harmonizing to R. K. Harrison, Job isnona treatise intended to provide an reply to the job of immorality, and peculiarly to the enigma of unmerited agony. The book is non chiefly a theodicy but is instead an scrutiny of the intrinsic nature of adult male himself. This is particularly obvious when one time it is noted that, were the book of Job assumed to be designed to provide adult male with an reply to the job of immorality, it is a conspicuous failure, since it merely does non provide such an reply. Furthermore, in the duologue Job seems to be much more concerned with the unfair intervention and affliction from his friends than he is with the same from God (Introduction,1043 ) .

One of import purpose of the book, claims Harrison, is to dispute the popular position that all human agony is self-entailed, and that justness uniformly occurs in this life. It merely is non born out in world that the unsloped and prudent see the immediate benefits of their erectness, and the unfair and wicked continually see the immediate penalty of their evil ( 1044 ) . With this, Berlin and Brettler agree. They indicate that a primary point of the book of Job is that human agony is non needfully deserved. That is, it is non needfully a direct consequence of some immorality on the portion of the sick person that is the cause of his agony. Furthermore, if a individual does believe that all agony is deserved in this manner, he will necessarily prosecute in one of two every bit bad actions: either ( 1 ) he will distort the character of the one agony or ( 2 ) he will make the same to God (Judaic Bible,1499 ) .

One Very Particular Subject

Possibly the most of import subject of the book is its looking insisting that the experience of agony is in some manner necessary for religious adulthood of worlds. Alister McGrath notes that St. Irenaeus of Lyons advocated this really philosophy (Christian Theology,292 ) . It isthroughthe experience of enduring that adult male experiences a witting deepening of his relationship with God. Although this is non explicitly stated in the text of Job, it seems to be a blunt decision given the terminal of the narrative ( his penitence ) and the deficiency of any effort on God’s portion to warrant himself and his actions. During God’s full addresss to Job, it is clear that God is concerned withOccupation, connoting that in the full experience that he had, the job ballad with Job and non God, therefore Job himself, and non his inquiries, is the 1 needing to be addressed.

This point of enduring progressing the goodness of the truster is picked up and emphasized to a great extent in the history and development of Christian philosophy and instruction. This relates to Archers 2nd point above. Sufferingmerely doesgive rise to chances for all mode of promotion in godliness. This subject is a strong one in the book of Job, since Job takes his experience of God in the terminal as satisfactory and reproaches himself when one time God has spoken to him. Apparently, this was an admittance on the portion of Job that he was in some manner in the incorrect. And such humbleness is amongst the highest of virtuousnesss in Christian moral divinity.

Many saints and physicians of the Church have picked up this subject over clip. St. Ambrose says, “Trouble comes merely to those on their manner to glorification, ” (New Jerusalem Bible,629 ) . It isthroughthe troubles in life, non in malice of them that a psyche advances its manner in adulthood toward God. St. Gregory the Great notes that at times when a adult male is giving himself to good plants in the Lord he is exposed to roast and mockery. Though such good plants done in charity ought to excite approbation in others around him, it merely provokes those others to mistreat the one on the way of the good. But, says St. Gregory, it is in the response of this angelic adult male wherein lies the sarcasm. “Then, whereas congratulations would hold put him in danger of turning outward, these insults compel him to come in within himself and attach himself all the more steadfastly to God, as he finds nil outside in which he can rest in peace, ” (NJB, 621 ) . St. Thomas Aquinas in his treatises on the virtuousnesss argues that without trouble, discord and some step of agony, several natural virtuousnesss merely would non be possible to represent. For illustration, without ging through trouble one would ne’er hold the chance for being patient, and forbearance is a virtuousness. Without some modicum of existent danger to oneself, one would ne’er hold the chance to take part in the virtuousness of bravery. Without sing some kind of discord, one would everlastingly be without the chance for persisting in the thick of trouble. Specifically, one would ne’er be able to incarnate the virtuousness of fortitude.

Furthermore, as St. Thomas Aquinas argues in hisSumma Theologica( Part I of Second Part, Q. 59, Art. 3 ) , sorrow is non incompatible with moral virtuousness. “On the contrary, ” St. Thomas says, “Christ was perfect in virtuousness. But there was sorrow in Him, for He said ( Matt. 26:48 ) :My psyche is sorrowful even unto decease.Therefore sorrow is compatible with virtue.” And as this pertains to Job, he was besides extremely sorrowful, even cussing the twenty-four hours of his birth when everything, including his ain wellness, had been taken from him. In this manner, Job before Christ and the saints after Christ are alltypesof Christ in that they enter into enduring merely as their Lord did. In Christian divinity, if one wishes to discourse the agony of the inexperienced person, there is none considered more guiltless than Jesus Christ. He is the perfect one, wholly untainted by wickedness or blameworthiness, yet he was ridiculed by the Judaic leaders of his twenty-four hours, unjustly imprisoned and flogged, and finally was crucified on a Roman cross. However, as we know from the narrative of Job ( merely as one knows from the lives of the saints ) , we are talking of “blameless and upright” people. In other words, they are “innocent” people who experience awful enduring on many occasions. But, it is the truth that worlds are given the chance to be perfected through agony that makes sanctum people merely increase in their sanctity when made to endure, non lessening.

Decision: Knowledge vs. the Beatific Vision

But, enduring is non the natural terminal of adult male, as St. Thomas Aquinas notes. Happiness is the natural terminal of adult male. Every rational animal acting rationally would want felicity. Now, the ultimate cloud nine and felicity is non found in mere cognition of truth. As Christian theologian John Goldingay explains, it is in the present experience of Truth that merely God ( who is, in Christian divinity, Truth itself ) can supply which is that blessedness (Authority of the Old Testament, 208 ) . The beatific vision consists in God disclosurehimself, non an reply to a inquiry. The theophany that Job experiences ( i.e. , God doing himself present to Job in the discourse ) is a precursor to that beatific vision that all the blessed will one twenty-four hours bask. An reply to the inquiries environing agony is non finally that which satisfies. It is non the ultimate terminal of adult male. As Boston College professors of doctrine Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli explain, merely God is such an ultimate terminal. He is the merely 1 to convey the supreme felicity, which is the highest end of life (Handbook,140 ) . In a peculiarly traveling interview, Peter Kreeft sums up this thought as follows, “Jesus [ is ] more than an account… He’s what we truly necessitate. If your friend is ill and death, the most of import thing he wants is non an account ; he wants you to sit with him. He’s terrified of being along more than anything else. So God has non left us entirely… And for thatI love him” ( Case for Faith, 71-2 ) .


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