Book of Job

Article

First of the poetic didactic books of the Old Testament in the Vulgate. The author and period of composition are still matters of conjecture, though the evidence for the post-exilic era is insufficient. The original language was Hebrew with perhaps an Aramaic foundation. Containing 42 chapters, it presents an investigation into the causes of evil and human adversity experienced by the just, and inculcates the lesson that man should not attempt a close scrutiny of the ways of Providence; secondarily it depicts Job as a model of faith, fortitude, and patience. Quite apart from the prologue (1:2), as well as the epilogue (42:7-16), three parts may be distinguished:

  1. three discussions of Job with his friends and two monologues (3-31)
  2. four discourses of Eliu, rebuking Job and his friends for some of their views, and extolling the wisdom and justice of God (32-38)
  3. utterances of God Himself teaching that His ways are not matters for the curious searching of human intellect (38-42:6)

Composed in the highest style of Hebrew poetry, it indicates great technical skill on the part of the author, and is embellished with rich oriental imagery. Its Divinely inspired character is acknowledged in the Old and New Testaments (Ezechiel 14:14-20; James 5:11); it is found from the beginning in the canons of the synagogue and the Church. Correct exegesis satisfactorily explains difficulties in some of the utterances, viz., God’s statements and those approved by Him must be regarded as Divinely inspired in themselves; with regard to the rest, it is Divinely inspired that the remarks and sentiments were expressed, but the doctrine contained therein is not thereby approved. The book furnishes Divine consolation and possesses marked dogmatic importance because of the doctrine concerning the Resurrection of the Body (19:25-27). There are significant passages concerning God’s supremacy, passing human comprehension (38:39), and Job’s humble confession (42:1-6). In the Roman Breviary lessons from this book are read in the Office for the Dead and in the nocturne of Matins during the first two weeks of September. Although sources and descriptions such as the Babylonian poem “Subsimesri-Nergal” may have been utilized the book must be regarded as the work of one person acting under Divine inspiration.

MLA Citation

  • “Book of Job”. New Catholic Dictionary. Saints.SQPN.com. 13 June 2010. Web. 11 July 2014. <http://saints.sqpn.com/book-of-job/>