Of all the gospels in the Bible, the Book of Job is perhaps the most praised in literature. Proof of this are these remarks from writers like Victor Hugo: “tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job” (as quoted in Copeland 2006:3) and Daniel Webster: “The Book of Job taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of the most wonderful productions of any age or of any language” (as quoted in Copeland 2006:3).
More than a masterpiece of literature, however, the Book of Job it provides an insight on the nature of God, on the relationship of God and man, and a criticism to man’s understanding of God’s laws. Most people would say that the Book of Job provides man a guideline on how to suffer (Copeland 2006; Goldberg 2010), but it is more than that. It serves to answer three of the most difficult questions on suffering: What is suffering? Why do people suffer undeservedly? What kind of lessons can be taken from suffering? ALL ABOUT THE BOOK OF JOB According to Mark Copeland (2006), the Book of Job belongs to the Books of Poetry, along with Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Just like the others, it is written in poetic style. Its author is unknown and the date of writing has been hotly debated among scholars. “All that can be said with certainty is that the author is a loyal Hebrew who was not bound by the popular creed that assumed suffering was always a direct result of sin” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown in Copeland 2006:4). It is often referred to as the “prime example of Hebrew wisdom literature” (Waters 1997:436) because it deals with a number of issues never discussed in the previous books of the Old Testament: the concept of theodicy1 and an understanding of the just and righteous God who allows underserved suffering in the world. At the start of the Book, the reader is introduced to Job, a man of remarkable character who was blessed with a huge family and a good fortune. This was then by a controversy presented through a conversation between God and Satan (Job 1:8-11): Has thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? …[T]hou hast blessed the work of his hand, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face To determine the veracity of Satan’s claim, God allow Satan to test Job. Job then lost everything he had – his children, his possessions, and was even inflicted with a sickness. But still he remained faithful and said “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away” (Job 1:21). After relating Job’s distress, the rest of the Book relates conversation (speeches in fact) between Job and his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. These three friends have incited him to repent from his sins, after all, this could be the only reason he is sufferng. Once he has repented, his friends claim, the Lord’s blessings will be restored and he will be prosperous again. Job was of course, confused. He has always been faithful to the Lord, and he even asked for forgiveness for his children’s errors, what secret sin was he being punished for? After three cycles of speeches wherein Job also expressed his confusion: “Wherefore the wicked live, become old…Their seed established in their sight with them…Their houses are safe from fear” (Job 21:7-9), a new character, Elihu, is introduced. He explains why he does not speak earlier: “Now Elihu has waited till Job has spoken, because they were elder than he” (Job 32:4). Elihu’s views about suffering was unlike the other three friends. Like Job, he knew that he lived according to God’ ...
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However, this is more that just the story one man; as it is the stunning, humorous chronicle of a generation, of the changing times, as well as the rising tide of the dissention against received wisdom. The writer has written an extensive new afterword, which updates both the continuing struggle for a society that is fairer and his personal history.
There is a very memorable conversation between God and Satan, which shows Satan wandering over the earth, looking for trouble, no doubt, and then God letting Satan loose to test Job with various nasty experiences. The point of the story is to teach people to be patient and trust in God, even when they experience bad things, and when they do not understand what is happening to them.
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In the Book of Job a pious Jewish man is punished by the Lord despite not having sinned, speaks to three friends of his ruin and its injustice and, in the final chapters of the Book, comes face to face with the Lord speaking “out of the storm” (38:1). It is “a complex wisdom writing that uses a blend of prose and poetry in dramatic form to explore the perennial problem of innocent suffering and God's justice” (Eaton Illustrated Dictionary).
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oted in Copeland 2006:3) and Daniel Webster: “The Book of Job taken as a mere work of literary genius, is one of the most wonderful productions of any age or of any language” (as quoted in Copeland 2006:3).
More than a masterpiece of literature, however, the Book of Job it
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