Book of Job


Job (jōb), book of the Bible. The book is of unknown authorship and date, although many scholars assign it to a time between 600 BC and 400 BC A lament in narrative form, the subject is the problem of good and evil in the world: "Why do the just suffer and the wicked flourish?" In the prose prologue Satan obtains God's permission to test the unsuspecting Job, whom God regards as "a perfect and an upright man" ; accordingly, all that Job has is destroyed, and he is physically afflicted. The main part of the book is cast in poetic form and consists of speeches by Job and three friends who come to "comfort" him: Job speaks, then each of the three speaks in turn, with Job replying each time; there are three such cycles of discussion, although the third is incomplete. The friends insist alike that Job cannot really be just, as he claims to be, otherwise he would not be suffering as he is. Nevertheless, Job reiterates his innocence of wrong. The sequence changes with the appearance of a fourth speaker, Elihu, who accuses Job of arrogant pride. He in turn is followed by God himself, who speaks out of a storm to convince Job of his ignorance and rebuke him for his questioning. The prose epilogue tells how God rebukes the three friends for their accusations and how happiness is restored to Job. The author did not intend to solve the paradox of the righteous person's suffering, but rather to criticize a philosophy that located the cause of suffering in some supposed moral failure of the sufferer. The texts are certainly imperfect, and there may be serious losses, corruptions, misplacements, or even additions to the original. Some scholars think that the outer prose sections may have been written separately from the passionate verse of the inner section. The book contains many eloquent passages; among them are Job's declaration of faith in the "redeemer," his speech on wisdom, and God's discourse on animals. Job is mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.

See N. C. Habel, Job (1985); L. G. Perdue and W. C. Gilpin, ed., The Voice from the Whirlwind: Interpreting the Book of Job (1991); R. P. Scheindlin, The Book of Job (1998); R. Alter, The Wisdom Books (2010); M. Larrimore, The Book of Job (2013). See also bibliography under Old Testament.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Book of Job: Selected full-text books and articles

The Book of Job: A Commentary By Norman C. Habel Westminster Press, 1985
On Job: God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent By Gustavo Gutiérrez; Matthew J. O'Connell Orbis Books, 1987
Discipleship and Imagination: Christian Tradition and Truth By David Brown Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Job and Innocent Suffering"
Gift Theory and the Book of Job By Ki, Wing-Chi Theological Studies, Vol. 67, No. 4, December 2006
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Essays in Jewish Thought By Nahum N. Glatzer University of Alabama Press, 1978
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "'Knowest Thou...?' Notes on the Book of Job" and Chap. 9 "The Book of Job and Its Interpreters"
The Long View: Essays on the Discipline of Hope and Poetic Craft By Robert Pack University of Massachusetts Press, 1991
Librarian’s tip: "Betrayal and Nothingness: The Book of Job and King Lear" begins on p. 251
The Philosophy of the Old Testament By Charles H. Patterson Ronald Press, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of the Book of Job begins on p. 359
Dialogues of the Word: The Bible as Literature According to Bakhtin By Walter L. Reed Oxford University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Who Is This That Darkens Cousel? Cross-Talk in the Book of Job"
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