Suffering in the Poetic Section of Job

To make sense of the following post, you should probably read yesterday’s!
Over the years scholars have proposed a wide range of options for interpreting this closing back and forth between God from the whirlwind and Job cowing down in awe before him. This interpretive decision is important, for in some sense the entire meaning of the poetic dialogue hinges on how we understand its climactic ending. One thing that is clear to all interpreters: the view of traditional ...

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Key Passages in Job’s Back and Forth


As waters fail from a lake

                And a river wastes away and dries up

So mortals lie down and do not rise again;

                Until the heavens are no more , they will not awake

                Or be roused out of their sleep. (14:11-12)

At times God’s attacks on Job are portrayed in extremely violent and graphic terms.

                I was at ease, and he broke me in two;

                                He seized me by the neck and dashed ...

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The Poetic Section of Job

In my last couple of posts I dealt with the short story of Job and evaluated its view of suffering.  For the next two or three posts I’ll talk about poetic section that takes up the bulk of the book, chs. 3-42.   This is how I discuss these sections in my new Bible Intro (due out in the Fall).


Since the same characters appear in the poetic section of the book as in the prose narrative, either the author ...

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Evaluation of Job’s Short Story

                In my previous post I laid out the “short story” of Job – the prose narrative that begins and ends the book that was, I contended, originally a free-standing story that existed independently of the poetic dialogues between Job and his friends that take up the great bulk of the book (this isn’t my idea: it’s been a standard view in scholarship for a long time).   This short story has a different ...

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The Prose Story of Job

I’ve decided to devote a few posts to the book of Job.   I’ll separate out the two authors and their accounts, and in this post talk about the prose narrative that begins and ends the book – that originally was just one story, without all the intervening materials (chs. 3-39) present in them.

The book begins by describing Job, who is not, as it turns out, an Israelite.  He comes from the land of Uz , which appears to ...

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The Two Books of Job

In my previous post I mentioned that the book of Job is almost certainly the work of two different authors, with two different views – of Job, of Job’s relation with God, of the reason for Job’s sufferings, of Job’s reaction to suffering, and just about everything else. I’ve been asked to give reasons that scholars have (long) thought that this is the case – that there are two different works that have been spliced together. Here I’ll lift my ...

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