Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It's all there, from the beginning

When we interpret the prologue within the context of the rest of the book, we realize quickly that the prologue contains important theological statements with regard to the book as a whole. The most important statement, which we must mention first of all, is: the prologue provides not only an exposition of the problem of the book of Job but also presents its solution. The first two chapters not only describe the circumstances of Job’s suffering; they also provide the reason behind it.

We must see this with utmost clarity: according to the prologue, Job’s suffering has a very simple, not to say a grotesquely simplistic, explanation: Job is subjected to a heavenly test. This is the only reason for his suffering. God performs a cruel experiment on Job; despite the figure of the satan, it is he who is solely responsible for Job’s fate (compare 1:11 with 1:12; 2:3; see also 1:21; 2:10). The text is especially careful to show that each of the satan’s actions affecting Job is legitimized and limited by God. In 2:3, God himself admits that it was not the satan who destroyed Job, but that the satan drove God to act against Job (סות Hiphil [swt]).

There is one modification we must immediately make to this proleptic solution to the problem of Job: neither Job himself nor are his wife or friends aware of this solution. Job only knew his suffering, not the book that carries his name. The readers alone have knowledge of the true reason for the blows that befell Job; and they have been aware of this reason from the very beginning, from chapter one.— Job's Journey, pages 14–15 (emphasis original)

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