The Book of Job
John Telgren


"God, after he spoke to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in his son, (Heb 1:1)."

This is one of the passages we were required to memorize when I did my undergraduate work at Harding. While heavy in my research for my Master's Thesis in the book of Job a few weeks ago, this passage came to mind. God communicated in so many different ways. He used visions, prophetic oracles, direct revelation, the written word, the retelling of stories, poetry, psalms, proverbs, parables, etc... The Bible is an amazingly rich blend of different literary styles, genres and rhetorical features that make the Bible a unique religious book. It stands worlds apart from the so-called holy texts of other religions.

Having just begun a new class on the book of Job in the auditorium last week, I look forward to new insights about the character of God. One of my teachers claimed that Job is "the most theological book" of the Bible. Most readings of Job center on his trials, or on the nature of human suffering. I used to think the same thing and come to realize that this is typical for someone that was in my position. Those who have not survived difficulty and hardship in life will read the book differently than someone who has. It is like traveling down a familiar road normally in the afternoon, but then traveling it at night. It looks completely different. I see now that the book of Job is not about Job at all. It is about God.

There was a time when I, like Job's friends, centered on the man side of the equation, but dared not fiddle with anything on the God side of the equation. To do so would upset my theological world. But the book of Job does just that. It messes with the God side of the equation. What may have been a logical equation with a logical answer gets turned on its head. That is never a pleasant experience.

One of my teachers simplified the overall movement of Job as 1) Orientation 2) Disorientation 3) Reorientation. I prefer to characterize it as a movement from na´vetÚ to reality. For Job, it was an almost unbearable journey. It is a journey many people never have to take, at least not in the way Job did. However, we have his story and his valiant struggle passed down to us in a literary work known simply as "The Book of Job." While we may never take the journey Job did, we can take a literary journey. It may be a literary road we have traveled before. However, when the season or the time of our life changes, our perspective changes. Just as we travel down a familiar road at a different time of day and see what we haven't seen before, so is the book of Job. I invite you to take the journey with us. While we will most likely not experience his voice out of a whirlwind, we may experience it anew in a different way.