The Cruel God: Job's Search for the Meaning of Suffering

By Margaret Brackenbury Crook | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIFTEEN
The Way of a Man with God . . . Job 29-31

Job reviews his former happiness and reflects upon his present distress. In a searching self-examination, he affirms once more his confidence in his integrity and utters his final plea to God.

It is unlikely that members of the Poet's circle would be willing to leave Zophar with the last word to Job or to regard the futility to which the great poem in chapter 28 appears to be leading--Wisdom is remote from man and unattainable--as a suitable conclusion to the Argument. His pupils demand something more: Job must confront God, must present his case to God. The three wisemen have failed to deal with it, and God must do so. Drawing on the rich stores of his memory and imagination, on the wealth of his insight into human nature, the Poet responds to their demand.

We need not be too much concerned for the logic of Job's persistence, nor raise the awkward question: Would a man who has declared that he cannot get a hearing from the Almighty present his case once more and at greater length than ever before? We need not assume, as commentators sometimes do, that another author has taken up the debate where the Poet left it. The high ethical standards Job attains in this new and searching self-examination are unmatched in the whole range of Wisdom literature. The superb description of God's powers, given as from the mouth of the Almighty, and the revelation of the effect upon a human being who finds himself in the presence of his Creator-- these bear the imprint of the Poet's genius.

It is a tribute to the Poet's skill that we take Job so seriously, that we treat him as if he were an historic character--on a par with Jeremiah--whom we can evaluate as logical or illogical,

-127-

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