Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Book of Job 8-15 - Who thought that his life was a snooze

Job 8-15

More ruminations on life, the world and everything from Job and his drinking buddies.

These conversations reminds me of the Socratic Dialogues from Plato.

Do you think the writing style could have been influenced by the Greeks?  Plato lived around 450 bce, so his influence may have been possible.  What is the origin of this original book?  Could it have been Greek?

Which brings up another question.  If this is a true event, (for those that believe the Bible is 100% real), who  had access to the interactions between God and Satan?  Did God relay this information to the author?  Wouldn't the author have mentioned that he spoke to God?!?!

Awesome line of the day:
13:28 And he, as a rotten thing, consumeth, as a garment that is moth eaten.

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  1. Bruce,

    First of all, some have dated the writing of Job around 400-600 B.C. So it seems to me that it's much too close to Plato's time for him to have been much, if any, of an influence on the book. But dates estimating the writing of the book vary quite a bit. We know that Job is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14, so at least we know that the book predates Ezekiel.

    There are many who believe in the 100% divine inspiration of the book of Job who believe that this may not have been an historical event. I mean, few believe that in Job's time people spoke in Hebraic poetic verse, as an example. This may have or may not have been a real event, but the tale itself as we have received it was perfectly intended (in my view) to have come to us as it did. Now, I'm no Old Testament expert, by any stretch, but you asked for an inerrantist's opinion, so I'll give it. The book seems to present itself as belonging to more of a parabolic or epic genre of some sort, rather than alongside historical narratives such as the books of Kings or Samuel, for example; and so in my opinion one could say that Job is 100% inspired by God, and yet that it ought to be understood within its genre. In that case, the book may or may not relay the story of an actual conversation between these men and God. In either case, the author need not have directly heard it from God so long as God superintended his commission of the story to paper, which as far as I know, has never been questioned by the church.

    I hope that's clear enough, but if not, follow-up questions may eventually be answered... I stress the EVENTUALLY part.

  2. The story of Job, a man tested by God and remains loyal and is rewarded, may be old and form a frame for the innards of this book which is a long discourse on the problem of bad things happening to good people. The patience of Job is legendary but how patient is he really in this book.

  3. @Bruce,
    Do you think the writing style could have been influenced by the Greeks?

    No. :-) i guess you saw that coming.

    What is the origin of this original book?

    From Introduction to the Old Testament it has this on the time.
    (a) The age of Solomon
    (b) The eighth century
    (c) The beginning of the seventh century
    (d) The first half of the seventh century
    (e) The time of Jeremiah
    (f) The exile
    (g) The fifth century
    (h) The fourth century
    (i) The third century
    It does not that "The time of composition cannot be established with certainty.

    I personally believe that it was written before Moses. I believe this for a few reasons.
    First Job is sacrificing for himself and his kids. (Job 1:5; 42:8) No mention of taking it to the priests to sacrifice or the temple.
    Another thing there is no mention of the exodus or the crossing of the Red Sea. Now we read a few books that don't mention this, yet this book does mention the flood (Job 22:15-16; see Genesis 6:5).
    Job is mentioned in Ezekiel 14:14;20, so i believe it came before Ezekiel. I think his friends would pull out the 10 commandments or the other laws for Israel if it were after Moses.

    Now i think the thing that makes this hard to date is that Holy Scripture have so much that links one book with another. Like Job 15:7 talks about first man born, made before the hills sounds like the writer would have known about what is recorded in Proverbs 8:25.
    In Job 19:25,26 talks about redeemer, we get that in Psalm, Proverbs, Isaiah, and Jeremiah.

    I see it as God has relieved Himself to man and it's consistent.

    Did God relay this information to the author?
    I believe it would be or an angel of the Lord that brought messages. Like with Samson's parents. Also with Abraham, and a few other Patriarchs.

    Wouldn't the author have mentioned that he spoke to God?!?!

    Not necessarily. The author could have been more focused on recording the event and keeping the story focused. However that is just my personal opinion. :-D
    Now if it was Job and he wanted to record what happened to him for future generations would it be such a stretch to think that when God spoke with him that He revealed this to him. Job wanting to preserve the experience moved the revelation (of Satan's involvement) from the end to the beginning to setup the story? This would give some explanation on why crap just hit the proverbial fan.

    I do believe it's a historical event. Job was a real man that lived and the others mentioned in the story lived as well.

  4. There are several layers going on here:

    -The main Job/pals dialogue, which isn't really a dialogue, because no progress is really made. It's just back and forth with the same arguments.
    -The "framing" stories, the first and last chapters, which IHMO present a cartoonishly pure Job that ruins the everyman character of the dialogue's Job.
    -The Elihu reply, clearly a late addition by an orthodox hand.
    -God's two replies, one which is weird stories about mythical beasts. I imagine that was originally its own thing.

    No clue when these various parts were written, but the core dialogues are probably the oldest.

    I'll have more to say on Elihu and God's disappointing reply when we get there.

  5. Abbie, why do you think Elihu's reply is a late addition by an "orthodox hand"? Does that imply that the book was originally written by an "unorthodox hand"?

  6. There are many reasons, which I'll list on a relevant post.

    I think the Job dialogues are highly unorthodox, much like Ecclesiastes.

  7. I've seen Job's sololiloquies referred to as "anti-wisdom". Does that ring a bell anyone? If so, I presume it's in reference to the wisdom literature. What are the themes that differentiate Job from other wisdom lit?

  8. @Skepticali - "Wisdom" in biblical literature has become something of a technical term to describe texts that, in effect, say, "Live like this and life will be good." More specifically, texts like Proverbs seem to say, "This is God's world, and if you live according to his law, you will have lived well. Life, while not without difficulty, will be pleasant on the whole."

    Of course, not all "wisdom literature" fits that mold. It's interesting that Proverbs is followed by Ecclesiastes in the Protestant canon. Proverbs says, "Here's how to live a good life." Ecclesiastes, on the other hand, says, "Yeah, I tried that, and it kind of sucked anyway."

    Superficially, Job could also be read in that light. Job was the model of faithfulness to God, but his life became torturous. Isn't that the opposite of the promises found in wisdom literature? In that sense, it is "anti-wisdom" in the vein of Ecclesiastes. I would make the case that the ending of Job finally vindicates the ultimate truth of wisdom literature, but you have to read a whole lot of existential anguish before you get there!