The Authenticity of the Elihu Speeches in Job 32-37 -- By: Larry J. Waters

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 156:621 (Jan 1999)
Article: The Authenticity of the Elihu Speeches in Job 32-37
Author: Larry J. Waters


The Authenticity of the Elihu Speeches in Job 32-37

Larry J. Waters *

A unique perspective on the dilemma and suffering of Job is presented in Job 32–37 by a man named Elihu.1 These six chapters, covering five separate speeches2 attributed to this young “wise man,” seem to hold an exceptionally important position in the overall argument of the book, specifically in understanding Job’s struggle with undeserved suffering. If the speeches in these six chapters are not deemed authentic, their contribution to the subject of Job’s suffering and the overall argument of the book is in question.

However, if it can be demonstrated that Elihu’s speeches are genuine and that their place in the Book of Job is integral, then the reader may confidently conclude that the message Elihu offered is applicable to the purpose and argument of the book. It is important to deal with the question of the genuineness of Elihu’s speeches because of (a) the extent of the textual material that is

* Larry J. Waters is Professor of Bible Exposition, International School of Theology-Asia, Quezon City, Philippines.

allotted to Elihu (in comparison to the four chapters assigned to Eliphaz, the three to Bildad, and the two to Zophar), (b) the placement of the Elihu speeches in the book, and (c) the reaction the speeches have drawn from critical circles on the question of authenticity.

Opponents of Elihu’s Authenticity

Before the nineteenth century both Jewish and Christian scholars held a number of differing opinions on the Elihu speeches.3 The negative opinions suggested that Elihu was a figure inspired by Satan,4 or that he was a false prophet like Balaam.5 By the end of the eighteenth century the structure and authenticity of the Elihu speeches were still the focus of diverse opinions. Elihu, his speeches, and his importance suffered severely at the hands of critics.6 In the nineteenth century Stuhlmann, whose evaluation was based on the sudden appearance and subsequent disappearance of Elihu in the book, was the first to suggest that the speeches of Elihu were a later addition.7 He was followed by Ewald in 1836 and a considerable number of scholars after him.8 Stuhlmann, however, set the stage for research tha...

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