Oct 3, 2010
Introductory Comments on Job 14:1–27:23
I am teaching through the Book of Job this fall. Many interpreters of Job know that the heart of the book consists of cycles of speeches, cast in poetic form, between Job and his friends. Here are some introductory thoughts on these cycles.
Each cycle consists of a speech from each of Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, with an intervening response from Job. Throughout the three cycles of speeches Job’s friends’ view Job’s suffering through a theory of retribution, that is, God rewards the righteous and punishes the unrighteous. The explanation for Job’s suffering then is sin. It is important to note that Job appears to also embrace the theology, but rejects the inference since he knows that he is innocent. This raises a problem for Job since the theology seems to have failed in his case. For Job, the effect does not reflect the cause. It should also be noted that as the cycles progress the tone of Job’s friends becomes more specific and critical of Job. In response to the increasing accusations of his friends, Job remains steadfast in affirming his innocence (6:10; 9:21; 16:17; 27:6). Indeed, Job accuses God of afflicting him unfairly (6:4; 9:17; 13:27; 16:12; 19:11) and seeks to present his case before God (9:3; 13:3; 16:21; 19:23; 23:4).