John T. Willis

Friday, August 21, 2009

Setting the Stage for the Book of Job--Part 1

Through the centuries, and in modern times, numerous good thinkers, preachers, and scholars have offered their views, opinions, understandings of the Book of Job. I would "guess" that IF a person seriously did a serious research of studies on the book of Job from the earliest time to modern times, it would take that person at least thirty or forty years to do that work. SO, it "blows my mind" to think of the possibilities of interpreting the Book of Job. Only a "fool" like myself would attempt this--but here I go--realizing I have not begun to read all the scholars and thinkers and preachers who have attempted to understand this book. I HAVE read a great deal of books and articles, but I am PAINFULLY aware of the fact that MANY, MANY, MANY other GOOD books and articles are out there for YOU and others to study.

In my feeble attempts, I will work VERY SLOWLY through this book. This will irritate some of you--others will think this is unnecessary. I WILL attempt to avoiding REPEATING my ideas. And yet, the going will be VERY SLOW.

In the first few blogs, I will SET THE STAGE of the Book of Job from my perspective. Several important issues are there. I will do my best to deal with these matters.

Part 1--The Book of Job as a Book

1. Many scholars divide certain parts of the book of Job from other parts of the book. I honor and respect each approach. And I understand why people do this. For example:
a. Job 1-2 and 42:7-17 are in prose, while Job 3:1-42:6 are in poetry [note, however, 32:1-5 is in prose]. So, there is a strong "temptation" or "drive" to separate Job 1-2 and 42:7-17 from the rest of the book.
b. Job 32-37 and 38:1-42:6 contain speeches which "sound different" from the speeches in Job 3-31. So, many scholars separate the speeches of Elihu in Job 32-37 and the speeches of God in Job 38:1-42:6 [and sometimes, the first or second speech of God in isolation] from Job 3-31, and from each other.
2. Many scholars "rearrange" certain chapters in the book of Job different from their present order, especially Job 25-31. Accordingly, various scholars assign various portions of these chapters to different "speakers" in these chapters.

2. As I approach the Book of Job, I have five assumptions. [All human beings approach every literary work with assumptions, whether they realize this or not].
a. I accept the Book of Job AS A WHOLE AS IT STANDS in the Bible as the word of God. Some of you may be disappointed that I do not accept the view that one should divide the Book of Job into "earlier sources" as "later additions" to the "original book."
b. It is my responsibility to try to understand the view of the COMPOSER of the Book of Job. I assume that this composer was God-directed. BUT, even if he was not God-directed, I still believe it is my responsibility to try to understand his view. Now, there is VERY LITTLE in the Book of Job from the composer of the book. It is ONLY Job 1-2; 32:1-5; and 42:7-17, and POSSIBLY connective statements like: "Eliphaz said," "Job said," and the like.
c. I believe by faith that GOD IS CORRECT. A MAJOR VIEW among many thinkers, preachers, and scholars that God is INCORRECT, WRONG, etc. Some insist that JOB is right and GOD is wrong. Sorry, but by faith I believe that GOD IS CORRECT. And surprise, surprise--Job is wrong. This is crucial in accepting God's view in Job 38:1-42:6. Of course, there are a FEW references to God in Job 1-2; 32:1-5; and 42:7-17, and these are important as well.
d. I accept SERIOUSLY the views of ALL the speakers presented in the Book of Job: Job, Job's wife, Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu. When one studies the Book of Job carefully, it becomes VERY CLEAR that these different speakers sharply differ from one another. But when I am dealing with Eliphaz, for example, I think it is my responsibility to try to represent Eliphaz's position--even if Eliphaz's position is wrong.
e. I DO believe that one should take into consideration references to the Book of Job elsewhere in the Bible. As far as I can tell, there are TWO of these: Ezekiel 14:12-20 and James 5:7-11. At an appropriate time, I want to deal with these texts.

In following blogs, we will discuss additional introductory matters concerning the Book of Job. Thanks for being patient. Share your ideas as we move along. Let me hear from you.

John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home