The God From Within the Whirlwind: Job VI

The Book of Job closes as it opened, with two speeches by Yahweh. In his first two speeches, Yahweh effectively gave the Satan permission to strip Job of everything except his life. By virtue of his response to these disasters, Job also retained his integrity.

1st Point: Integrity. It can be given up but never taken.

Three of Job’s sage-friends appeared to mourn with Job. After seven days, Job explodes in a curse against his nativity. As good sages do, his three friends apply their wisdom to the situation as they understand it and therefore counsel Job to repent. Unfortunately, the friends do not really understand the situation.

2nd Point: Understanding. It’s not wise to attach moral value to a tragedy.

The three friends are adherents of retributive theology, AKA “reaping what you sow.” Since Job was reaping disaster, he must have sown wickedness. Job also held to retributive theology but he knows slightly more than the friends, because he knows that he is innocent. In light of his own innocence, he uses RT to draw the conclusion that God is criminal.

3rd Point: Retributive theology. Is Job’s approach really superior to that of the three friends?

Starting from his perception of God as criminal, Job becomes increasingly fixed on confronting God in litigation. At the conclusion of the four-way dialogue, Elihu popped in, making it perfectly clear that God will not answer Job. Then God answered Job, making it perfectly clear that Elihu is a twit.

4th Point: God. If there’s one thing that’s clear about this narrative’s message, it’s that you can ask God some pretty straight-up questions.

So now, what exactly did God say?

Actually, let’s start with what he didn’t say. He never addressed Job’s claim of innocence, nor did he further explain the motivation behind his response to the Satan in the prologue. In fact, he doesn’t seem to much care about the whole issue. This, however, does not seem to inhibit him from doing a whole lot of talking.

The two Yahweh speeches are very similar in macro-structure, but quite different in content. Each opens with a question by Yahweh, effectively putting Job on the defensive. If Yahweh’s feeling guilty, he’s not acting like it.

The first question concerns Yahweh’s plan, which Job had attacked in his satirical doxology in chap. 12. Yahweh asks:

Who is this who clouds my design in darkness
Presenting arguments without knowledge?

The second question addresses Job’s attack on God’s integrity, which was launched from chaps. 9 and 10. In the second speech, Yahweh asks:

Would you pervert my justice?
Would you prove me wrong so that you may be in the right?

Yahweh requires Job to respond to his questions using an identical couplet in both speeches:

Gird your loins like a real man
I will ask questions and you will inform me! (38:3; 40:7)

I think that it is impossible to read this couplet without finding God sarcastic. The question is, how sarcastic? Is he hammering Job flat or just poking him a bit, the way we sometimes do with uppity teenagers?

Yahweh’s First Speech

At this point, the two speeches diverge. In the first speech, Yahweh questions Job on the design and details of the universe. None of the questions are properly within the province of mortals. There are three central themes to these questions: the structural, functional, and aesthetic, and each is applied to the creation, the heavens, the earth, and the animal kingdom. Sampling first the structural theme:

Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations?
Tell me if you have gained discernment!
Who fixed its dimensions? Surely you know!
Or who stretched out the measuring lines over it?
On what were its pillars sunk?
Or who set its cornerstone? (38:4-6)

Can you bind the fetters of the Pleiades?
Or loose the sash of Orion?
Can you lead out Mazzaroth (Corona Borealis?) in its season
Or stay the course of aBootes and his companions? (38:31-32)

Is it by your discernment that the hawk soars,
Spreading his wings to the south?
Does the eagle mount at your command
And build his nest on high? (39:26:27)

Yahweh’s functional theme establishes the processes of the universe, including limits and containment for the forces of evil and chaos. Everything has its place and its way and must respond to Yahweh’s commands:

Where is the way to the dwelling of Light,
And where is the place of darkness,
That you may escort each to its territory
And discern the path to its house? (38:19-20)

Can you lift your voice to the clouds
For a torrent of water to cover you?
Can you dispatch lightning on a mission
And have it answer you “Here I am?” (38:34-35)

Do you know the time when the ibex give birth?
Do you watch over the calving of hinds?
Can you count the months they must fulfill?
Do you know the time of their delivery,
When they crouch to deliver their young
And drop their offspring? (39:1-4)

Finally, there is an aesthetic theme. Yahweh seems to have something of a sense of the beautiful, the humorous, the joyful and the paradoxical. He makes it rain on places where there are no men (38:26-27), the stars sing at creation (38:7), the ostrich is a bird that can outrun a warhorse; its wings are ridiculous and yet they rejoice (39:13-17). And finally there’s the matter of the sea. To Yahweh the Nursemaid, it is a baby chaos monster to be swaddled in clouds and mist, then placed in a cosmic playpen:

Who hedged in the sea with doors
When he gushed forth from the womb,
When I wrapped him in robes of cloud
And swaddled him in dense cloud,
When I prescribed my limit for him
By fixing bars and doors
And saying, “Thus far you may come and no farther!
Here your proud waves break.” (38:8-11)

So it seems that Yahweh’s got quite an operation going. Things like Dawn and Death have their place, but lightning and hail must move in response to his commands. The wild ass laughs in his freedom; the warhorse thrills in his servitude. Rigid order has its place, but chaos roams within this order. Light and dark, death and life, wisdom and foolishness. Incongruity is not an anomaly, it’s part of Yahweh’s design.

And so I draw the following conclusions:

(1) Yahweh is proud of his creation and pleased to demonstrate its complexities and anomalies to Job. His sarcasm is the mild variety.

(2) Yahweh explicitly challenges Job to show the discernment necessary to design, create, and keep all this functioning.

(3) Yahweh implicitly challenges Job to apply what he has learned about the universe to his personal situation.

(4) Yahweh is not dealing with Job as a sinner, but with Job as an ignorant man. In this, Yahweh honors Job while at the same time exposing him for a fool.

That Job’s relationship with God is paradoxical should surprise no one by now. And Job’s response indicates that he, too, has gotten a clue:

Yahweh answered Job and said,
“Will the one with suit against Shaddai correct me?
Will the one arraigning Eloah answer me?
The Job answered Yahweh and said,
“Behold I am small, how can I refute you?
I clap my hand on my mouth.
I have spoken once, I cannot answer;
Twice and will do so no more.” (40:1-5)

And you would think that that would end it all, wouldn’t you? But no, Yahweh’s got a captive audience and he has a few more things to say. Fortunately, they can be dealt with briefly.

Yahweh’s Second Speech

Yahweh’s second speech opens with another question for Job:

Would you pervert my justice?
Would you prove me wrong so that you may be in the right? (40:8)

Yahweh goes on to challenge Job to take control of the entire universe and govern it according to the principles of retributive theology that came to so readily to him when he contemplated his specific situation (40:7-14). There is evil in the world, lots of it, actually. But Yahweh contains it, rather than destroying it. Can Job, now sitting on an ash heap, do better? If so, Yahweh will celebrate his victory (40:14).

Next up is Behemoth. This word is usually translated “cattle.” In Job, it is a land animal balancing the Leviathan who is a sea monster. The habitat and hunting methods used for each animal point toward the hippopotamus and the crocodile, but in context both are mythical monsters subdued by Yahweh.

Although there’s a great deal of controversy surrounding the role of Behemoth and Leviathan in Yahweh’s argument, the key point regarding Behemoth may be in the opening couplet:

Behold now, Behemoth whom I made along with you!
He eats grass like cattle. (40:15)

The overt reference may well be to the sixth day of Creation, the period during which God created the land animals and finally man. But the implicit point is that just as Yahweh is the master of Behemoth, so Yahweh is also Job’s master.

And you would think that this would be the end, no? No. Yahweh seems to have just gotten warmed up. Now he’s about to wax overly lyrical about Leviathan, the most dangerous of creatures. Job is therefore challenged to capture Leviathan:

Will he make covenant with you
To take him as you lifelong servant?
Will you play with him like a bird
And tie him down for your girls? (40:28-29)

Rather than continuing the challenge, Yahweh breaks off, insists that only he can control Leviathan, and then launches into a long description of Leviathan’s defensive and offensive capabilities. But the key lines are probably in Yahweh’s speech here:

Behold any hope against [Leviathan] is false;
At his very appearance one is laid low.
Is he not ferocious when roused?
But who can take their stand before my face?
Whoever confronts me I requite,
For everything under the heavens is mine.
Did I not silence his boasting,
His mighty word and his persuasive case? (41:1-4)

The point here is that no one, not even Leviathan, the king of all proud beasts, can stand face to face with God. Job had wished to confront Yahweh. Now, like Leviathan, Job learns that he cannot succeed in such a situation.

But there is a larger point here, one that includes both Behemoth and Leviathan. Both of these tremendous creatures are chaos monsters, enemies of the Creator God, and inimical to his purposes. And yet, he has not destroyed them. Instead, he has contained them, controlled them, and made them answer to his larger purposes.

And so I come back to Yahweh’s question at the beginning of the second speech:

Would you pervert my justice?
Would you prove me wrong so that you may be in the right?

I cannot help but wonder if what Yahweh is getting at is that Job’s sense of justice, of good and evil, of right and wrong, of wisdom itself, is just too narrow. If Job is innocent, must God therefore be guilty? In Job’s thought-world, the Creator God should logically kill both Behemoth and Leviathan as chaos monsters, but God’s wisdom does otherwise.

And so I conclude the following:

(1) Job’s logic has gone wrong.

(2) Just as Behemoth and Leviathan have a purpose to fulfill in Yahweh’s grand design, so too Job. Questions are not out of line, but the answers may well be as disconcerting as the situation that prompted them.

(3) Yahweh quite likes himself and his poetry. It is no real surprise that the personality behind the quirky universe has a few quirks of his own. I grin when I read the Leviathan passages.

(4) Job’s employment of retributive theology is also flawed. In fact, retributive theology is far too mechanical and determinate to ever under-gird a creation as beautiful, complex, and creative as the universe we inhabit.

(5) And as for Job’s friends, well, a mechanical application of a mechanical theory led to predictable results. Job’s own creativity and willingness to push the limits make his response superior to theirs.

And so we come to Job’s final speech:

Then Job answered Yahweh and said:
I know that you can do everything,
And that no scheme of yours can be thwarted.
[You said]
“Who is this who obscures my design without knowledge?”
Indeed, I spoke without discernment
Of things beyond me which I did not know.
[You said]
“Hear now and I will speak,
I will ask and you will inform me.”
I have heard of you with my ears
But now my eyes see you
Therefore I retract
And repent of dust and ashes.(42:1-6)

I think that the “dust and ashes” Job turns away from is his adherence to retributive theology. I think he gives up the idea that the universe is founded on justice, or at least on justice narrowly conceived. Yahweh has his order and design; it answers to his purposes. And it is clear that he both delights in, and loves, his creation through and through.

But it is also perfectly clear that even the mighty Job, wisest of the wise and second in righteousness as a character only to Christ, is in no position to comprehend all of this. And so the fact remains that we, as also Job, will never fully understand our God, nor control our relationship with him.

Given this ambiguity, it stands to reason that our ability to advise and correct others in their relationship with God is severely limited. How can we help, when we see someone suffering as Job did? How do we provide something for those who have somehow lost touch with God?

The answer, I think, is also in Job. In the end, Job did not ask his friends to fix his relationship with God, he asked them to maintain their relationship with him. And that they could not do so because of their own relationships with God, is perhaps the saddest and cruelest irony of the entire narrative.

Is there one last “balancing act” in Job? Is it possible that the potential uncertainties of our relationship with God can be moderated by the potential for solid friendships? Do the wise create and sustain these friendships ahead of time, in anticipation of a future need?

For the Latter-day Saints, who teach a Heavenly Father to the exclusion of all else, especially a Master of the Universe, this sounds heretical. And yet, my experience with God is not unitary. I think that to ignore the potential for ambiguity in our relationship with God is to create unnecessary vulnerability. But can you teach it ahead of time without destroying the foundations of faith?

I was recently asked by a young(er) friend why Job, which has such a different picture of God, is even in the canon. I think this may be one answer: Job can be an inoculation. And if circumstances warrant, it can become a common point of departure from which to explore those aspects of God that are not part of the Sunday School curriculum with someone who really needs a friend.

Existence is fulfilled when man is aware not of [God’s] ultimate concern, but of becoming the concern of the Ultimate
……………………………….–Samuel Terrein

25 Replies to “The God From Within the Whirlwind: Job VI”

  1. “The answer, I think, is also in Job. In the end, Job did not ask his friends to fix his relationship with God, he asked them to maintain their relationship with him. And that they could not do so because of their own relationships with God, is perhaps the saddest and cruelest irony of the entire narrative.”

    Mogget, wow! I’m floored. The whole series has been great, but what an ending! I have some questions, but for now, just wow!

  2. Wow, what a payoff! Thank you so much for this entire series. What a profound observation. This is an amazing answer to the question of why bad things happen to good people that has plagued mankind for ages.

  3. I can’t even begin to imagine what I would pay for a series like this one for every important book/pericope in the scriptures. Sometimes I wonder why God ever stopped using a system where women could be true leaders in the church. This was so insightful, so thoughtful, I seriously think you should consider some broader publication of it. This was a first rate inquiry into one of the most challenging books of scripture. Very well done.

    I confess that I’m even more attracted to the conclusions you have reached because they parallel the way that I have come to view God. I love what Joseph Smith taught here: “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive”. I don’t think what Joseph meant here and what you concluded are exactly the same but the underlying principle is there that God is more broad in every way than we so often credit him to be. We are narrow and finite, and I think it is easy for us to forget this and unintentionally misrepresent God to ourselves by viewing him through our limited understanding.

    Also, I love the way you summarized the way the text portrays God’s creation, as thing of order and boundaries with evil and chaos moving about within it. Probably the best sum-up of the way things really seem to work in the world. Job may have written it (or whoever), but you made it clear. My only problem with your conclusion is the hyperbole of calling Job “the wisest of the wise”. Maybe in his day, but ever? I agree with your argument that Job’s reasoning is the same as the four others only applied in a different way because of the extra bit of knowlege that he had. That doesn’t make him any wiser than the rest of them in my mind, narrator’s conclusions to the contrary.

  4. Ok, I have been lurking reading this fascinating exposition and I have learned a lot. But I have a question for the prophetess, and the blog as a whole. When was the book of Job written? I ask because I wonder if it was pre-Mosaic. I say this for a number of reasons .

    First, there is Job’s age. If this happens when he is 50 (he already has 10 kids) and then he lives another 140 years, that makes him 190, which is similar to Abrahams age.

    Next, there is the emphasis on his daughters, which would probably have received less of an emphasis had it been written in Israel, post-Moses. The last 3 are even given names. Not proof, by any means, but suggestive.

    There is no mention of the Law of Moses. There is sacrifice, that is true, but no mention of the Mosaic Law. (or am I wrong on that point?)

    The ancient doctrine of the Heavenly Council, the distinctive hebrew, the poor condition of the text, and the unfamiliar geographic names (some, not all), would at least indicate it is not post-mosaic Israel.

    What do you guys think?

  5. DavidF,

    Obviously, it is hard to judge the age of any document based merely on internal clues. For instance, the age could be literal or it could be simply intended to indicate that Job was blessed by the Lord. Certain numbers (like the 5 and 10 in fifty and the 7 in 140) are often used symbolically. Nor do I think that you can argue it is later than Moses based on the emphasis on daughters. Righteous daughters (as these are reputed to be) are always considered a blessing in Hebrew lit. No mention of the Law of Moses has been attributed to the possibility that Job (the story) didn’t originate in Israel at all (another indicator is his reference to an Ugaritic myth).

    So, I don’t think that we can definitively say one way or another how to understand the dating of Job.

    On a side note, careful with those statements of acclaim. Calling someone a prophet around here is likely to get you into trouble.

  6. When was the book of Job written? I ask because I wonder if it was pre-Mosaic. I say this for a number of reasons .

    The scholarly answer suggests that it was written in portions. Some scholar have noted the Heavenly Council and Sons of God motif and suggest that the original was old and just contains the HaShaitan confrontation of YHVH at a feast of El concerning Job and Job’s losing everything and gaining it back. They then suggest that discussion between Job and his 3 friends was added later along with God’s response to Job as an expansion on the story to address the problems caused by retributive theology. Personally I find the response of Job to retributive theology interesting in light of the widespread use of the similar Deuteronomic theology. Finally many scholar believe that the Elihu passage was a later addition since the speeches of Elihu contradict the fundamental teachings found in Job.

  7. The poem which is contained in Job iii. 1-xlii. 6, exclusive of later interpolations, discusses a religious problem which could scarcely have been formulated in the early period of the Israelitic people; for it presupposes a high spiritual development and a maturity of judgment which are acquired by a people only after great trials and sore tribulations. This view excludes all the earlier opinions which assign the date of the composition of the poem either to the patriarchal age .. or to the time of Moses.., of David …, of Solomon …, and even of Hezekiah ….

    The special problem discussed in Job concerns the justice of the divine government of the world. It could have been formulated only after the principles of that justice had been announced in Deuteronomy; according to which earthly happiness was promised as a reward to the faithful followers of the Law and of Yhwh, and earthly misfortune was heldup as a punishment to the recalcitrant (Deut. xxviii.-xxx.). Hence the poem must have been composed after the promulgation of the Deuteronomic code. And the question as to God’s dealings with His world must have become paramount at a time when experience directly contradicted the principles laid down in that code. After the reforms of Josiah (622 B.C.) Israel undoubtedly had a right to unalloyed happiness. Instead there came a succession of catastrophes: the defeat of Megiddo (609), and the Babylonian exile (587), by which the congregation of the Lord in Israel in particular was most deeply smitten.

    Merx, Stickel, Reuss, Dillmann, Hirzel, Hitzig, and Ley (in “Studien und Kritiken,” 1898, pp. 34-70) assume the seventh century B.C. as the date of composition; Gesenius, Vatke (“Biblische Theologie,” i. 563), and Duhm (“Das Buch Hiob,” p. ix.) place it as late as the fifth century; while Budde (“Das Buch Hiob,” p. xiv.) assigns it even to the year 400.

    From the Jewish Encylopedia

  8. Thanks for the concern HP (I assume your comment was aimed at me). That wasn’t what I meant at all. I meant only that great insights like this are much more likely to get holed up in some narrow-yet-ultra-cool blog as opposed to a much more wide forum because a Sister in the Church was the one that had them. Hence the wider publication note. And I’ll leave it at that.

  9. Gentlemen,

    Thanks for the kind words. In a bit, tonight or tomorrow, I’ll post a summary of some of the other interpretations so you’ll have a better idea of the range of thought on Job.

    Source-critical Thoughts

    Aye, yi, yi. I’m with HP. You can’t tell much about the date or the composition history with any certainty.

    The book gives no reference to any historical event or topical subject that can be so used. It is inappropriate to assume that ideas only ever came up once, in Deuteronomy, or that we know the order in which they arose. And there are so many polarities and theological conflicts that it is impossible to set out which ones are relevant to dating.

    It is also inappropriate to assume that a direction of dependence. Thus the presence of something that looks like Jer 20:17-18 in Job 3 may mean that Job was influenced by Jeremiah, or that Jeremiah was influenced by Job. Ditto for a dependence on Second Isaiah.

    Something looks alot like Genesis 1 in Job 3:4 and 12:7. But when was Genesis 1 composed? And did Genesis 1 spring, like Athena from the forehead of Zeus, directly into it present form? Or is it based on pre-existing material?

    And what’s quoted in the JE is a whole string of German authors. Can you say tendentious? Yup. Those guys had boundless confidence in their ability to penetrate the dimmest reaches of religion and history from their studies. Mostly what they reveal are their own philosophical assumptions. If you can’t do the work yourself — and it’s neither easily nor quickly done — it’s best to consult a variety of commentaries rather than the JE.

    Arguments from Aramaicisms? Very hard to show conclusively that a word never existed before it showed up in the OT.

    Is it a reaction against Deuteronomy? Did Deuteronomy spring into being in one fell swoop? Or did it grow out of something else now lost to us? Or is Job reacting to common themes in wisdom lit. that were prevalent throughout the ANE for quite some time? Dunno?

    Was this driven by Israel’s suffering under world powers? There’s no evidence that Job represents Israel, a prophetic class, or a remnant. Nor is Job the submissive type.

    My opinion: it’s post-exilic, deliberately archaized back into the patriarchal or pre-patriarchal periods in order to universalize it. The themes it deals with are, ultimately, universal. My opinion rests on the contact with Genesis 1 to the extent that it rests on anything other than my neck. 😉

    But regardless of its date, the idea of a human who provokes God into appearing in a whirlwind probably made ancient Israel as twitchy as it makes modern Mormon Israel.

    Can’t say as I think Elihu’s speeches are a problem either. He’s not performing the same narrative function as the three friends, either. If there’s a citation, I’d love to see it.

    J. Watkins,

    Wisest of the wise is, in one sense, hyperbole. What he is called is the “greatest of the men of the East” (1:3).

    But it has some contact with the narrative. Job is the one guy who spoke to God “as one sage speaketh to another,” so to speak. Job the sage spoke with God the sage. Theophany is so rare in wisdom lit. that Job stands in class by himself. If you would like sagest of the sages, I’m up for it.

    Good to see you around, dude.

  10. When was the book of Job written?

    It was not pre-Mosaic. Linguistically (I’m sure there are other reasons too) it doesn’t fit something that would be older than Moses. In fact, the Pentateuch isn’t even the Hebrew of Moses’ day (if indeed it actually existed as a “Hebrew” and not some form of Canaanite dialect).

    First, there is Job’s age.

    That doesn’t help in dating a book. The Bible is chock full of dudes living lots longer than most people do now, and yet the Bible was written by various authors at various times.

    Next, there is the emphasis on his daughters,

    Are you talking about the young women’s organization for Masonic families, “Job’s Daughters”? 😉 Anyway, mention of his daughters isn’t all that suggestive. What we have in Job is probably some form of Israelite liberal (for lack of a better word) who wants to duke it out on paper with retribution theology (ret. theo. is the idea that if one follows Torah completely, one is blessed for so doing; Mormons have a form of this too). In that light, I’d say it’s post-exilic (or perhaps exilic at the earliest) simply because the author wrestles with bad things happening to a good man, which was something the Israelites struggled with while they were in Babylonian exile (“how could this happen to us? we’re God’s elect!” Mormons do some of this too).

    There is no mention of the Law of Moses.

    The Historical Books (Joshua through 2 Kings) barely make any mention of Torah at all, which is odd. No time/space to go into that now, but source critics like Wellhausen have used it to plug their own theories (and with which I personally agree).

    The ancient doctrine of the Heavenly Council, the distinctive hebrew, the poor condition of the text, and the unfamiliar geographic names (some, not all), would at least indicate it is not post-mosaic Israel.

    Not necessarily. One could use the same arguments to say that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text, but there are lots of times that it hardly reads like one (outside 1 Nephi anyway). Don’t get me wrong, I believe the BofM to be God’s word, so please don’t be tempted to sidestep the issue here and attack me on that. I’m kosher (er… “correlated”) in that regard. What I’m saying is that the factors you indicated here are not hard-and-fast proofs for much of anything.

    Bottom line: the burden of proof is on the individual who dates the book of Job, or any book in the Hebrew Bible as pre-Mosaic in my mind. The language just doesn’t fit. The content just doesn’t fit. The geography just doesn’t fit. And the most damning — in many cases the archaeology doesn’t fit.

    Easy on the “prophetess” thing, man. Where I come from, them’s fightin’ words.

  11. David,

    I have to agree that there is no hard evidence and that the burden of proof is on whoever dates it (pre- or post-) but I don’t understand some of your arguments.

    Exactly what would we expect from a pre-Mosiac document? Appearently between the time of Abraham and Moses, there was huge decline and Moses was something of a restoration. The only (known for sure) document from Abraham (the book of Abraham) is anything but primitve, and the theological understanding in it is distinctive from anything else we have. Both are distinctive, and have an unusual (but different) theological flavor. That proves nothing, but it does suggest a different theological lineage than the rest of the OT. Perhaps I overstate that though – that is just my bias.

    If we say it dates from a later period, like post exile, then we need to compare it to the Testament of Job. But that book lacks the depth of Job, and merely protrays him as Job the Pious, Super-Jew. That is the kind of thing I would expect post-Exile.

    Your point about the Penatauch through 2nd Kings lacking references to the Law of Moses was interesting. I never thought of that.

    But about the ages… the only place I can think of very old people is the first few chapters of Genesis, up to the Patriarchs. After that, I can’t think of any unusual lifespans. Nor can I think of anytime a lifespan is used figuratively, unless you understand the Ante-deluvians that way, in which case, what does it all mean? Even Josephus (does this help me or hurt me?) makes it clear that these ages are literal and real, even though he wants to make most of the creation quite figurative.

    I don’t know when it was written, but I would say there is something quite unusual and distinctive about it.


  12. Re: emphasis on Job’s daughters.

    I read some commentaries that interpret the part about Job’s daughters in the end to be symbolic of his willingness to submit to God. In the prologue, all the feasting is centered around his sons (the male/controlling), but in the epilogue the daughters (feminine/submissive) have an equal portion with their brothers and are the only ones that get named.

  13. DavidF,

    The introduction of the Book of Abraham and the TJob into the present context indicates a certain methodological confusion. You may find it illuminating to personally consult a major, professional, commentary for additional insight before continuing your quest. This sort of inquiry is one in which it is very, very, easy to distinguish a poseur from someone with a genuine, though perhaps uninformed, interest.

  14. Exactly what would we expect from a pre-Mosiac document?

    Well, for starters, you’d expect case endings on the “Hebrew.” Again, I don’t like calling it “Hebrew” that early in the game because it was probably some form of Canaanite and not recognized as the national langauge of the “Hebrews” as of yet. There are glimpses of some of the case endings in epigraphic Hebrew, although some of those have to be heavily contrived from what is barely legible (I’m thinking of the Gezer calendar and possibly the Siloam tunnel inscription). The Hebrew of the Pentateuch has no such case endings, but instead relies on the perfect/imperfect aspect in order to reflect, for lack of a better word, “tense,” even though technically there really is no hard-and-fast “tense” in the Hebrew Bible. It reads very much like a later script.

    Secondly, the archaeology, like I mentioned before, smacks of someone who has a vague knowledge of past places and events but tends to commit errors over and against one who was contemporary with the official story. Experts like William Dever tend to think that the historicity of the Bible, though flawed, does not negate the book’s historical value. Moreover, Dever concludes (quite convincingly) that the book of Judges is where accurate history re-telling and archaeology tend to begin to converge.

    Your mention of a lack of text between Abraham and Moses only fortifies my original point.

    then we need to compare it to the Testament of Job

    No you don’t. TofJ was written pseudonymously some time between the first century B.C. and the first century A.D., according to expert Craig Evans (cf. Noncanonical Writings and New Testament Interpretation, p. 29) and R. P. Spittler (in Charlesworth, OTP 1:829-868). It was written in Greek (spoken Hebrew had pretty much fallen out by then and been replaced by Aramaic or Greek). Comparing biblical Job with TofJ doesn’t accomplish anything. Again, as I stated before, I would expect Job to be post-exile as well because of its attack on retribution theology, and ret. theo. was the machine that drove the Pentateuch (Hexateuch, really) and the rest of the works of the deuteronomistic school. Job fits perfectly in exilic or post-exilic times because of the very questions and issues with which it wrestles. TofJ fits perfectly into the post-Maccabean Jewish “renassaince” thought of the 1st century. So the argument for some form of intertextuality between Job and TofJ in effort to recover a proper dating for biblical Job is probably moot.

    Unusual and distinctive Job is. But pre-exilic, as you stated before, is incorrect, as far as the final form of the text is concerned and/or its final reception into Israelite lore. I think the scholarship would agree.

  15. I read a few JBL articles on Job 42:6, and found William Morrow’s the most interesting. Here’s a summary. Basically he argues that the wording is purposely vague so that many different interpretations of Job are possible. I think it’d be interesting to explore whether this was the original author’s intent or a result of a redactor trying to walk-the-fence so-to-speak….

  16. You OT guys! You guys find redactors everywhere. 😉

    Here’s my take, bearing in mind that the OT is not my stomping ground:

    Ambiguity is in the eye of the beholder. It may have been intended, but how would you tell? One good sign that ambiguity or multiple meanings may be intended is that the genre is poetry. But beyond that…?

    There are any number of words and phrases in the NT, at least, that seem to have had some special significance to their original audience that has now been lost. Case in point is the record of blood and water from the side of Jesus. What was that all about? And why is it followed immediately by an avowal of the truth of the narrative? Something exciting has been lost, I think, but the guy behind 1 John 5 sure used it effectively.

    So yes, Job’s ending is ambiguous, at least to modern ears. My only point is to introduce some hesitation in the process of declaring that it was always so.

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