Job is one of the few books in the Bible that is often read as a timeless work of literature by those in secular academia. I recall my first experience with Job was in Freshman Literature, which was before I surrendered my life to Christ. It was presented in class right alongside other works from the ancient world like Homer, Milton and Dante. The poetic speeches and the elements of prose made the book a true work of art. Most scholars agree that there is likely not just one author for the work that we currently have in our scriptures, nor can a date be established since it was likely developed over a long period of time.
The book contains multiple forms of literary elements like narrative, proverbs, poetic dialogues and laments, so it is very easy to misunderstand and misuse much of what is written in Job, just like in Ecclesiastes. This book is a notorious source for people who choose to take something out of context to fit their ill-devised ideology.
Job has all the elements of a great story. It begins in a beautiful setting with a good man and a wonderful family. Lush pastures surrounded them where life is good. Then, behind the scenes, a plot is hatched to disrupt this idyllic setting by unseen characters. Drama ensues and the tranquil lives of good people are radically altered by destruction and devastation. The hero is thrust into the middle of a celestial conflict between good and evil, and he is stuck on an ash heap of hopes and dreams. For the next 36 chapters, character development takes center stage while our hero Job wrestles with empty philosophies, bankrupt dogma, and the misapplied doctrines of his day as personified by his “friends”.
Many people who read Job just scan through these 36 chapters and hurry to chapter 38 where God finally speaks and brings the conclusion to this drama. However, there is a depth to the context if you know what to look for. For this blog series, I have endeavored to bring forth a character study to help you understand the context of these often frustrating 36 chapters. My hope is that chapters 38-42 will mean so much more to you as a result of struggling along with our friend Job.
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