Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Notes on the Bible, Job Continued

Yes, it has been three months. If you're keeping up with your Bible reading, you're well beyond Job by now. But I though I ought at least to finish up my overview of Job.

Chapters 4-26 constitute the dialogues among Job and his friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. In the first round (chs 4-14) the friends express their "karma" view of theology. That is, if something bad happens to you, it was in payback for something bad that you did. It is easy to fault Job's friends for this, but it is a theology that most people naturally fall into. Witness, for example, the disciples of Jesus in John 9:2. Since Job's situation has gotten so inordinately bad, he must have done something inordinately bad to deserve it. That is what all three friends say, though more nicely and at greater length. Job insists that such is not the case. In the course of his responses, Job recognizes the need for an arbiter between God and man (the "daysman" of 9:33 KJV) and he continues to trust in God in spite of circumstances (13:15).

In the second round of dialogues (chs 15-22), the friends, apparently disappointed by Job's unwillingness to admit his great sin, continue the make their charges, though more sharply and with less grace. Job on his part continues to evidence faith in God and in his own vindication (19:23-27), though it is clear that he is struggling to hold on.

The last round of dialogues is the shortest, as if all the verbal combatants are running out of energy, as well as out of things to say. Nothing really new is said in this section. Zophar does not speak in the last round, and Bildad speaks only briefly. The dialogues end with Job's assertions that his friends have done God no service, and that God is greater than their theology. Thus the dialogues end with Job maintaining his trust in God and the certainty of his vindication.

It's my view that too many of those who would preach through Job tend to spend too much time in the dialogues and end up with a great deal of repetition.

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