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You will find an introduction and outline of Job, here.

A prayer to use before reading, from Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274) a prominent theologian of the medieval period.

 Creator of the universe, who has set the stars in the heavens and causes the sun to rise and set, shed the light of your wisdom into the darkness of my mind. Fill my thoughts with the loving knowledge of you, that I may bring your light to others. Just as you can make even babies speak your truth, instruct my tongue and guide my pen to convey the wonderful glory of the Gospel. Make my intellect sharp, my memory clear, and my words eloquent, so that I may faithfully interpret the mysteries which you have revealed. Amen.

Outline of Job (based on Good)

I. The Opening Tale 1:1-2:13

II. The Dialogue 3:1-31:40

A. The First Cycle of Speeches 3:1-11:20

11:1-20 Zophar’s First Speech: Zophar tells Job that he is suffering because he has sinned. And that Job is not being punished as much as he deserves (v6b). If Job repents, God will restore him.

B. The Second Cycle of Speeches 12:1-20:29  In the first cycle of speeches the friends claim God punishes the wicked and rewards the righteous. Bildad and Zophar tell Job that he is being punished because of his guilt. Job began by wishing he had not been born, but begins to wonder about suffering and justice; sin and righteousness.

12:1-14:22 Job From 12:1-13:19 Job addresses his friends. From 13:20-14:22 job addresses God.

12:1-13:19b: Job begins sarcastically speaking to his friends. Job continues to contend that he has done nothing wrong. In verses 12:7-25, even the animals and plants know God is in charge. But God is also unpredictable and Job claims he is not necessarily just and fair. God’s actions seem arbitrary. In 13:1-3 Job wants to argue his case to God. 13:4-12 Job tells his friends they have spoken falsely about God and they also need to be concerned about God’s actions. 13:13-19 Job wants to take his case before God, no matter what.

13:20-28 Job now addresses God. He asks that God “withdraw your hand from me” and not terrify him. Job wants to know what his “iniquities” and “sins” and “transgression” are. Why do you think Job wants to talk with God? In the previous chapter he claimed God is unpredictable,but now he wants to defend himself legally before God and asks that God treat him fairly.

14:1-22 The focus shifts in these verses from Job to the human condition. Job compares a tree with human life. He wishes that Sheol was a place of temporary respite from God rather than a final inescapable end. Verse 14 is rhetorical, the answer, for Job, is no. Job wishes humans could live again, and their sins forgiven, but in verses 18-22 Job claims reality is otherwise.

 

Here are several good sources to aid your reading of the Job

Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.

Clines, David J.A. “Job” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Good, Edwin M. “Job” in  HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.

Long, Thomas G. What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and the Crisis of Faith (Grand Rapids MI:Wm B. Eerdmans) 2011.

Newsom, Carol A. “Job”,in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 3, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 1996.

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