Seekers Sunday Schoool
Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church
Home Lesson Notes Homework Handouts Bibliography
Unique Place in the Canon
Background and Theme
Things to Watch For
The Prologue: The Testing Of Job
The First Round Of Speeches
The Second Round Of Speeches
The Third Round Of Speeches
The Intervention Of Elihu
The Revelation Of The Lord


Unique Place in the Canon

  • It has been said that the book of Job is "everything you can say to God's face and still live." (John Fortner)
  • Job is a long, dramatic dialogue in poetic form. It is capped with a prologue and epilogue that is written in prose.
  • The majesty of the language used in Job is recognized by many people. Martin Luther said that Job was "more magnificent and sublime than any other book of Scripture." Alfred Lord Tennyson (poet laureate of England) called Job "the greatest poem whether of ancient or modern literature." Victor Hugo called Job the "greatest masterpiece of the human mind." The book of Job has been counted among great literary work with The Oddesy and The Illiad, e.g.
  • Job is very elegantly written. Much of it's elegance will be lost on us as we concern ourselves with studying the translation since none of us are great scholars of Hebrew poetry. For example, in Job, there are 110 words that are not found elsewhere in the any other Old Testament books. Examples of the variety of language in Job include that there are 5 different words for lions, 6 for traps, and 6 for darkness. Job is full of similes and metaphors. Job also contains a lot of poetic parallelism (two lines with the second line completing or contrasting the first, which is typical of Hebrew poetry.)
  • Job has had a great impact on our everyday speech, even today. E.g., "My hair stood on end." (4:15b), "Take my life in my hands." (13:14b), "I have escaped by the skin of my teeth." (19:20b), "The root of the matter." (19:28b), "Spit in my face." (30:10b), "Words without knowledge." (35:16b), and many more.


  • The book of Job is anonymous.
  • Jewish tradition credits Moses as the author.
  • Other potential authors are Elihu, Solomon, Hezekiah, Ezra, a nameless Jew living somewhere between 500 and 200 B.C., or Job himself.
  • Job was written by a single author, which is very evident because of the interdependence of it's design. Unlike some of the other books we have recently been studying, Job was not composed of pieces collected by an editor.


  • It is widely believed that Job lived prior to the birth of Abraham, so the events depicted in Job would take place in the latter part of Genesis 11.
  • Why are the events in Job dated so early? Many reasons: he is not specifically stated to be a Jew, there is no mention of the Exodus or the Law of Moses, Job is the priest for his own family (i.e., there is no national priesthood), wealth being measured by livestock fits with the patriarchal period, Job lived for more than 200 years (characteristic of lifespans of the era immediately preceding Abraham).
  • When was Job written? Perhaps as early as 2100-1900 B.C. (if Job were the author, e.g.) to as late as the second century B.C. Most likely, Job was either written in the patriarchal era or the Solomonic era. A Solomonic writing would obviously be dependent on an accurate oral tradition of the story being passed down through time.

Background and Theme

  • Job is a historical figure, not fictional - he is referred to in Ezekiel 14:14, e.g. as a historical figure.
  • Several descriptions recorded in Job reveal an advanced knowledge of science: the evaporation-precipation cycle (36:27-28), wind and weather directions (37:9, 17), composition of the human body (33:6), suspension of the earth (26:7), ocean-bottom phenomena (38:16), cloud-lightning relationship (37:11), the orbits of heavenly bodies and their influence upon the earth. (38:32-33). There is more recorded in Job about Creation than is recorded in Genesis (e.g., dinosaurs appear in Job).
  • What is the primary lesson of Job? First, let us look at what the primary lesson is not. Many people believe that the primary lesson in Job is the answer to the question of why the innocent suffer. This question is never answered in Job. It cannot be the primary lesson. Instead, the lesson is the answer to the question of how mortal man shall be justified with God? This is a lesson that only God can teach!
  • Note that James speaks of Job's patience (James 5:11), but this is only a piece of the puzzle.

Things To Watch For

  • In order to understand Job and the ensuing discourses of his friends, read Job 1:8 and 2:3, 11-13 and then Job 42:7-9. Pay attention to what God says about Job and what God says about what Job's three friends said.
  • Job 42:7 says that Job's three friends did not speak what was right concerning God. When any of these three friends speaks, note how his reasoning is wrong in respect to God and to Job's suffering. Watch how Job answers each of his friends. This is particularly difficult because the arguments that Job's friends offer are sound and persuasive arguments. It can be easy to assume what Job's friends say is good advice if we are not careful to keep the big picture in mind during our study.
  • Keep in mind as we read Job that we have insights into his situation that he and his friends did not have. The first several chapters depict a conversation that takes place between God and Satan which serves to explain the things that are happening to Job. It is only at the end of the book that Job learns the entire story. Remember that we have a different perspective on the events as we encounter them than Job had.

Last update: July 6, 2003

© 2003 Greg Cohoon

Made with a Mac! Valid HTML 4.01!