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1. The Book of Job: God's infinite wisdom is the key to acknowledging his justice
Key Terms
• Theodicy: the philosophical and/or theological defense
of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the
existence of evil
• Wisdom and poetic literature: Job, Psalms, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs
• Retribution principle: the idea that there is a one-to-one
correlation between one’s actions and rewards
• “Man and His God”: Sumerian literature that is a
monologue that discusses suffering
• “The Babylonian Theodicy”: Babylonian literature that
is a dialogue between two people about suffering
• Mesopotamia: the land between the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers
Key Ideas
• It is not true that only the wicked suffer.
• God's justice cannot be reduced to a simple formula
like the retribution principle.
• God's infinite wisdom is the key to acknowledging his
justice.
Job was probably an Edomite living in the patriarchal period,
though the composition of the book probably took place much
later. Though the literature of the ANE—such as the Sumerian
“Man and His God,” Akkadian “Ludlul bel Nemeqi,” and “The
Babylonian Theodicy”—bears many resemblances to this work,
Job itself displays greater sophistication in its form and
philosophical perspective.
The book of Job seeks to discover God's policies concerning
justice, specifically regarding his treatment of the righteous: does
God's pattern of blessing the righteous interfere with their actual
development of righteousness? The book of Job serves to
vindicate God's policies as the author establishes and maintains
Job's innocence.
God's justice is maintained through his wisdom, by which he
orchestrates the events of the world.
The prologue introduces the characters, sets the stage for the
drama that follows, and presents the philosophical issues that the
book will address. Three cycles of dialogues by Job and his
friends occupy chapters 4–27.
The friends affirm traditional theology (the "retribution
principle") and its corollary (consequence or result or
outcome), both of which Job also affirms. At the same
time, Job defends his own innocence––which eventually
leads him to accuse God of injustice.
What is a retribution principle?*
Retribution is one receiving what he or she deserves,
either by humans or, in the case of Job’s story, by a
divine decree. How does this book present the principle?
If a person is righteous, then the person should prosper. If
a person does evil, or bad, then that person deserves
suffering.
This is one of the arguments of Job’s friends – you suffer
because you are wicked, or you have committed a
grievous sin.
Eliphaz – Job 4:3-4 somewhat praises Job, but then
blames him in John 4:7-8
Bildad – Job 8:20 accuses Job
Zophar – Job 11:14-15, 17
Now, their reasoning is Syllogism. They are using
deductive reasoning.
What is Syllogism?*
Dr. Geisler says: “The basic tool of all deductive logic is
the syllogism (pronounced sil-o-jism.) It is easy to
recognize. Whenever you see two propositions that have
one term in common and are followed by a conclusion
(a proposition that might be introduced by hence,
therefore, so, or thus), that’s a syllogism. It may not be a
good one, but it is a syllogism. Simply speaking, a
syllogism is the format that we use to put the propositions
together so that we can analyze their relationships to one
another to see if they make sense.”
Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking
(Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 37.
Ernest Lucas says, “There is no real
engagement in argument in the speeches. Job
and his friends tend to speak past each other
rather than genuinely dialogue with each
other.”
Ernest Lucas, Exploring the Old Testament: The Psalms and Wisdom Literature, vol. 3
(London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003), 120.
In fact, we see how Job’s great friends treated him!
Ernest Lucas says,
Bildad rests his argument on the traditional teaching of
former generations (8:8–10), and implies that what has
happened to Job must be due to his sin and that of his
children. Zophar has a cut-and-dried theology, which he
applies rigidly. God’s wisdom is unlimited and Job has
no right to challenge it (11:7–9).
His suffering must be evidence of God’s displeasure
(11:10–11). Indeed God is probably letting him off lightly
(11:6)! If Job will confess and repent he will be restored
(11:13–20).
Job repeatedly requests a mediator, one to plead his case
before God and provide restoration. He did not stay quite.
In fact, Job pleaded with God to have mercy; he tried to
prove his innocence; he charged his friends for being liars
for misrepresenting God (13:4-7).
By all this, Job is not claiming to be “sinless,” but trying
to state that he doesn’t deserve this suffering that has
come upon him (7:16-21).
Ernest rightly puts Job’s understanding of his suffering
and the desperate need for justice.
Look at Job’s Questions:
Job 7:20-21, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you,
Watcher of humanity? Why have you made me your
target, so that I have become a burden to you? Why not
forgive my sin and pardon my iniquity? For soon I will
lie down in the grave. You will eagerly seek me, but I
will be gone.” (CSB)
Look at Job’s Questions:
Job 13:23-24, “How many iniquities and sins
have I committed? Reveal to me my
transgression and sin. Why do you hide your
face and consider me your enemy?” (CSB)
“Job gets to the point of charging God with injustice—
heedlessly destroying both the blameless and the wicked
(9:22). He longs for a mediator who can stand between him
and God in court, but there is not one (9:32–33). Despite all
this, Job still wants his day in court with God to prove his
innocence (13:1–3). He calls on God to give him respite
from his sufferings so that they can meet on more equal
terms (13:20–23).”
Ernest Lucas, Exploring the Old Testament, 120.
Question: How blameless should Job think of himself
that he calls on God to do justice for him?
How blameless job ought to be to call on God and asks
him to make his sins known to him?
Chapter 28, the Hymn to Wisdom, suggests that true
wisdom has not yet been heard. In his following oath of
innocence, Job intends to force God to act. Elihu enters
the scene, affirming God's justice and the retribution
principle, but rejecting its corollary. The final section of
the book contains God's speeches to Job, Job's response,
and the epilogue, in which Job is restored to his previous
prosperity.
The book of Job confirms that God tends to act according
to the retribution principle but cautions that it cannot
address the issue of causation. The book also affirms the
divine attributes of wisdom, justice, and sovereignty.

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1. The Book of Job: God's infinite wisdom is the key to acknowledging his justice

  • 2. Key Terms • Theodicy: the philosophical and/or theological defense of God's goodness and omnipotence in view of the existence of evil • Wisdom and poetic literature: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs • Retribution principle: the idea that there is a one-to-one correlation between one’s actions and rewards
  • 3. • “Man and His God”: Sumerian literature that is a monologue that discusses suffering • “The Babylonian Theodicy”: Babylonian literature that is a dialogue between two people about suffering • Mesopotamia: the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers
  • 4. Key Ideas • It is not true that only the wicked suffer. • God's justice cannot be reduced to a simple formula like the retribution principle. • God's infinite wisdom is the key to acknowledging his justice.
  • 5. Job was probably an Edomite living in the patriarchal period, though the composition of the book probably took place much later. Though the literature of the ANE—such as the Sumerian “Man and His God,” Akkadian “Ludlul bel Nemeqi,” and “The Babylonian Theodicy”—bears many resemblances to this work, Job itself displays greater sophistication in its form and philosophical perspective.
  • 6. The book of Job seeks to discover God's policies concerning justice, specifically regarding his treatment of the righteous: does God's pattern of blessing the righteous interfere with their actual development of righteousness? The book of Job serves to vindicate God's policies as the author establishes and maintains Job's innocence.
  • 7. God's justice is maintained through his wisdom, by which he orchestrates the events of the world. The prologue introduces the characters, sets the stage for the drama that follows, and presents the philosophical issues that the book will address. Three cycles of dialogues by Job and his friends occupy chapters 4–27.
  • 8. The friends affirm traditional theology (the "retribution principle") and its corollary (consequence or result or outcome), both of which Job also affirms. At the same time, Job defends his own innocence––which eventually leads him to accuse God of injustice.
  • 9. What is a retribution principle?* Retribution is one receiving what he or she deserves, either by humans or, in the case of Job’s story, by a divine decree. How does this book present the principle? If a person is righteous, then the person should prosper. If a person does evil, or bad, then that person deserves suffering.
  • 10. This is one of the arguments of Job’s friends – you suffer because you are wicked, or you have committed a grievous sin. Eliphaz – Job 4:3-4 somewhat praises Job, but then blames him in John 4:7-8 Bildad – Job 8:20 accuses Job Zophar – Job 11:14-15, 17
  • 11. Now, their reasoning is Syllogism. They are using deductive reasoning. What is Syllogism?* Dr. Geisler says: “The basic tool of all deductive logic is the syllogism (pronounced sil-o-jism.) It is easy to recognize. Whenever you see two propositions that have one term in common and are followed by a conclusion
  • 12. (a proposition that might be introduced by hence, therefore, so, or thus), that’s a syllogism. It may not be a good one, but it is a syllogism. Simply speaking, a syllogism is the format that we use to put the propositions together so that we can analyze their relationships to one another to see if they make sense.” Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, Come, Let Us Reason: An Introduction to Logical Thinking (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1990), 37.
  • 13. Ernest Lucas says, “There is no real engagement in argument in the speeches. Job and his friends tend to speak past each other rather than genuinely dialogue with each other.” Ernest Lucas, Exploring the Old Testament: The Psalms and Wisdom Literature, vol. 3 (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2003), 120.
  • 14. In fact, we see how Job’s great friends treated him! Ernest Lucas says, Bildad rests his argument on the traditional teaching of former generations (8:8–10), and implies that what has happened to Job must be due to his sin and that of his children. Zophar has a cut-and-dried theology, which he applies rigidly. God’s wisdom is unlimited and Job has no right to challenge it (11:7–9).
  • 15. His suffering must be evidence of God’s displeasure (11:10–11). Indeed God is probably letting him off lightly (11:6)! If Job will confess and repent he will be restored (11:13–20).
  • 16. Job repeatedly requests a mediator, one to plead his case before God and provide restoration. He did not stay quite. In fact, Job pleaded with God to have mercy; he tried to prove his innocence; he charged his friends for being liars for misrepresenting God (13:4-7). By all this, Job is not claiming to be “sinless,” but trying to state that he doesn’t deserve this suffering that has come upon him (7:16-21).
  • 17. Ernest rightly puts Job’s understanding of his suffering and the desperate need for justice. Look at Job’s Questions: Job 7:20-21, “If I have sinned, what have I done to you, Watcher of humanity? Why have you made me your target, so that I have become a burden to you? Why not forgive my sin and pardon my iniquity? For soon I will lie down in the grave. You will eagerly seek me, but I will be gone.” (CSB)
  • 18. Look at Job’s Questions: Job 13:23-24, “How many iniquities and sins have I committed? Reveal to me my transgression and sin. Why do you hide your face and consider me your enemy?” (CSB)
  • 19. “Job gets to the point of charging God with injustice— heedlessly destroying both the blameless and the wicked (9:22). He longs for a mediator who can stand between him and God in court, but there is not one (9:32–33). Despite all this, Job still wants his day in court with God to prove his innocence (13:1–3). He calls on God to give him respite from his sufferings so that they can meet on more equal terms (13:20–23).” Ernest Lucas, Exploring the Old Testament, 120.
  • 20. Question: How blameless should Job think of himself that he calls on God to do justice for him? How blameless job ought to be to call on God and asks him to make his sins known to him?
  • 21. Chapter 28, the Hymn to Wisdom, suggests that true wisdom has not yet been heard. In his following oath of innocence, Job intends to force God to act. Elihu enters the scene, affirming God's justice and the retribution principle, but rejecting its corollary. The final section of the book contains God's speeches to Job, Job's response, and the epilogue, in which Job is restored to his previous prosperity.
  • 22. The book of Job confirms that God tends to act according to the retribution principle but cautions that it cannot address the issue of causation. The book also affirms the divine attributes of wisdom, justice, and sovereignty.