Understanding The Bible
The Book of Job

Dr. Clarence E. Mason, Jr.
Philadelphia College of Bible


Setting, Authorship, and Date of Writing of Book
Tradition ascribes the book to Moses, a product of the second of the three 40-year periods of his life (i.e., during his stay in Midian.)  If correct, this then would make it the oldest book in the Bible.  The events of the book evidently took place in the period between the flood and Abraham.  There is a strong probability that the Jobab of Genesis 10:29 is none other than Job.  Job-ab means either "Father Job" or "Father of Job."  (The name also occurs in Genesis 36:33, but this would probably be too late.)

In recent years, the critics have been trying to establish that the book was written in the time of the Maccabees (1st or 2nd century B.C.), because of the remarkable degree of culture exhibited in these discourses.  Of course, this would spoil their theory of man's evolution up from a crude, cave-man past.  Such things as engraving, distaff weaving, and mining are spoken of -- the latter, very remarkably in 28:1-12.

However, there is nothing to back their theory.  Every fact points against the theory.  For instance:

1.  There is no mention of Jews, Israel, Palestine, priest, Levite, tabernacle, temple, etc.  It is incredible that these should not have been mentioned or alluded to if Job had been written as the lat book of the Old Testament!

2.  How does Ezekiel speak of Job (Ezk. 14:14, 20), if Job were written in Maccabean times?  (The same is true of Ezekiel's mention of Daniel, for which book they are trying to set a late date also.)

Further, the timing of these experiences fits the period between the Flood and Abraham in that it is inconceivable that none of the persons or things listed under "1" should be mentioned in so extensive a debate (chapters 4-31), if they were in existence at the time of the debate.

Doctrines in Job
Although there was as yet no written revelation, it is interesting to note the extent of truth God had given His people orally.  Note the wide range of doctrines:  Sacrifice, Promises of Redeemer, Sovereignty of God, Righteousness of God, Personality of Satan, Ministry of Angels, Special Creation, Divine Inspiration, Human Responsibility, Trinity, Man's tri-partite nature, Resurrection, Restoration of failing saint, and (implied 1st and 2nd Comings of Christ.

Verbal Inspiration
One of the common objections to verbal inspiration is found in Job.  The first two chapters of the book and the Epilogue are in prose, but the remainder and bulk of the book is in poetry.  "Did Job and his friends talk poetry?"  There are two answers which might be given.  First, it is perfectly within the realm of verbal inspiration that God should take their prose debate, and for the sake of the dramatic effect accurately record it in poetic form.  Poetry has a swing to it, and is picked up by the people--and, if this was the first book of the Bible, how apt such an arrangement would be for spreading God's record and revelation (cp. Homer's Iliad for spreading of a story in poetic form.)

On the other hand, it is not at all impossible that they actually spoke in poetry in the form we have discussed on the previous page.  Even today, poetic language is so characteristic of the East and come so naturally to them, that such a procedure is not incredible nor unlikely, especially when one remembers what constitutes poetry in Hebrew (see note preceding this book.)  Also compare the much more difficult impromptu poetry of ancient minstrels or modern wise men of the East, not to mention the story of Caedmon's poetic paraphrases of Bible stories into Anglo-Saxon.

Theme:  "Affliction Unveiled" (James 5:11)

  1. The problem of suffering:  Why does God permit good men to suffer in an evil world?

  2. The problem for the presence of an evil nature, even in a righteous man, and the consequent necessity of self-judgment.

  1. The Prose Prologue 1-2

  2. The Poetic Portion 3:1-42:6

    1. Job's lament - "Why?" 3

    2. The debate 4-31

    3. Elihu's intervention 32-37

    4. Jehovah versus Job  38:l-42:6

  3. The Prose Epilogue  42:7-17


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