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Throughout the drama, Job asserts his innocence of wrong, thereby rejecting the traditional view that suffering is the result of sin. The humble and patient Job who bears his sufferings as proofs of piety, however, becomes the raging and insistent Job pressing relentlessly for divine vindication in the dialogue that forms the main part of the book (chaps. 3 - 31). The argument is pursued through three cycles of speeches in which Job's three friends - Eliphaz, Bilbad, and Zophar - chide the hero and he, in answering them, challenges God. Job's final self defense and call upon the deity is answered by God's speech from a whirlwind in which Job is invited to trust in the divine omniscience and power.
This direct experience of the mysteries of God leaves Job at peace with himself. Although no final solution to the problem is offered, the author clearly rejects traditional explanations of suffering. It is a moot point whether he offers a positive answer to questions about suffering and divine justice.
The unity of the book is debated. Many interpreters assign the prologue and epilogue to an earlier or later hand, and it is widely assumed that the poem on wisdom (chap. 28) and the speeches (chaps. 32 - 37) of a fourth friend (Elihu) inserted after the dialogues were added later, because they interrupt the flow of the argument.
Norman K Gottwald
R Gordis, The Book of God and Man (1965); L D Johnson, Out of the Whirlwind: The Major Message of Job (1971); H Morris, Remarkable Record of Job (1988).
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