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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

B. The Second Cycle of Speeches 12:1-20:29

C. The Third Cycle of Speeches 21:1-28:28:

27:1-23 Job’s Reply: In verses 2-6 Job takes an oath on God’s life! In verses 5 the “you” is plural and refers to his friends.

Some believe that 27:7-10,11-23 belong to Zophar as part of his “lost” third speech. Do these verses sound more like Job or one of Job’s friends?

If Job is speaking, verses 7-10 are an imprecation against an unidentified enemy. Verses 11-12 Job himself is the example of God’s power and intentions.

If Zophar is speaking, the rest of the chapter is another description of the fate of the wicked. Job, you will recall, has previously argued that the wicked do not suffer. Notice that the fate of the wicked is what has happened to Job. The east wind is the wind that destroyed houses of Job’s children. (1:19)

28:1-28 A hymn on Wisdom

This may be of Job, or the conclusion of Elihu’s speech. Scholars think this may be the end of Elihu’s speech because of the similarity between the last sentence here and the last sentence of Ehihu’s speech, 37:24. Many scholars believe this is an independent poem( not spoken by any of the book’s characters) which became a later addition to the book. These verses (1-11) begin talking about mining and precious ores and the lengths to which humans will go to acquire valuable stones. But where (v 12) is wisdom to be found? And how much more valuable than precious stones is it? Glass ( v 17) was very precious and expensive in pre-Roman times. God knows where wisdom is found (20-27) and what wisdom is (v 28).

              

D. Job’s Summation 29:1-31:40 Job looks back to his happy past, the terrible present and offers his final plea. Job’s friends are not mentioned, and God is only briefly mentioned.

29:1-25 In the past, God watched over Job. Job was respected in his community. Job took care of the poor.

 

30:1-31 “But now…” even the poor and the rabble “mock” and “abhor” Job. Verse 11, God has brought Job down. (Undoing of the bow is a way of describing powerlessness. An unstrung bow is good for?) Verse 16-23 God has become Job’s enemy.

31:1-40 Job summons God to a lawsuit. The “if” statements are the form of an oath. Usually, but not always, a consequence is added. If I have done…then let …. happen to me.  Sexual misconduct, dishonesty, adultery, treatment of slaves, mistreatment of the poor, avarice, idolatry, revenge, lack of hospitality, hypocrisy and mistreatment of the land are all mentioned. In ancient times, adultery was understood as a crime against the woman’s husband. Verses 9-12 if Job has committed adultery, the punishment affects his wife.  The expression in verse 27 “my mouth has kissed my hand” is a reference to an action done in worship

“The curse in the ancient world was no casual expression, but was the most powerful way one had to set in motion forces of action and reaction. The curse worked itself out objectively and irresistibly, and even God could not hinder it. “(Good: 388)

Job places everything on the line by this series of curses upon himself.

Verses 35-37 are the climax of the speech. Job offers his “signature” and             calls “Let the Almighty answer me!”  It seems that verses 38-40 would                  follow better after verse 34.  

Then we read “The words of Job are ended.” 

 

III. The Speeches of Elihu 32:1-37:24

IV. Dialogue with Yahweh 38:1-42:6

V. The Closing Tale 42:7-17

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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