Monday, April 27, 2009

Job 27-42

Following the dialogues with Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, the Book of Job concludes with three monologues and an epilogue. The monologues are those of Job (chs 27-31), Elihu (chs 32-37), and God (chs 38-41). Job's monologue presents his final defense of his integrity, focusing on the problem of understanding/wisdom in ch 28. The idea is that human wisdom is insufficient to comprehend Job's situation, and God alone is capable of understanding. Thus, the best man can do is fear God and turn from evil. Job then seeks to demonstrate that this has indeed been the course of his life.

Elihu's monologue has probably been over analyzed because he has not previously been mentioned in the book. His message probably serves two primary purposes. First, he puts forth the instructional element in suffering, that is, that suffering presents an opportunity for learning. This has not been suggested in any clear way in the book up to this point. Second, Elihu's speech serves to heighten expectation for God's appearance on the scene. In other words, he serves to increase the tension.

God's monologue does not address Job's concerns. He does not explain himself. Instead, he takes the "Pauline" tack, "Who are you, O man?" But in his response God emphasizes both the demonstration of his wisdom in the making of creation and the care he continually exerts in providence, giving his statement an "if God so clothes the grass" character that Job picks up on.

The Epilogue. Does Job repent? If he does, of what does he have to repent? God says that Job spoke truly concerning him. Instead, a better translation is "I comfort myself upon dust and ashes. That is, even in the midst of my scraping myself upon the dust heap, I comfort myself with the vision and knowledge I now have of God. Lest anyone think this is a new idea with me, I borrowed it from The Word Became Fresh by Dale Ralph Davis, pp. 118-119, footnote 18.

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