The Book of Job and Its Doctrine of God -- By: R. Laird Harris

Journal: Grace Journal
Volume: GJ 013:3 (Fall 1972)
Article: The Book of Job and Its Doctrine of God
Author: R. Laird Harris


The Book of Job and Its Doctrine of God

R. Laird Harris

Professor of Old Testament
Covenant Theological Seminary

[The material in this article was originally presented at Grace Theological Seminary as comprising the Louis S. Bauman Memorial Lectures, February 8–11, 1972.]

A few years ago, there was a man of the East—the eastern United States, that is—named Archibald MacLeish. And he wrote a rather famous play called J. O. B., taking his theme from that ancient man from a distant eastern country, Job. The play was in no sense a commentary on Job, and it gave a radically different treatment of the problems of the relation of God, man and evil. But at least we may say that MacLeish’s choice of his title underlines the perennial fascination of the book of Job, even to those who may not agree with its teaching and conclusions. It is in every respect a great book. It deals with some of the deepest problems of man and directs us to the existence of a sovereign God for their solution. It treats these problems not in a doctrinaire fashion, but wrestles with them and gives us answers to proclaim to a troubled age, to a generation that recognizes the antinomies of life, but cannot find a meaningful solution for them. We hope in these studies to see how the ancient godly philosopher and prophet explores deeply the basic questions of life and offers to the man of faith answers far wiser than much which passes for wisdom today. But first to turn to some technical questions.

The Date of Job

Probably the most common view of the date of Job in conservative circles has been that the book is very old. For example, the Scofield Reference Bible points to the patriarchal period. The Jewish tradition enshrined in the Talmud (Baba Bathra 14b) says Moses was its author. This Jewish tradition is quite late. The Talmud was not codified until

the 5th century A.D., and our manuscripts of it come from a still later period. The tradition may have some value however. It may not be that the data on authorship was correctly remembered by the Jews, but that they came to the conclusion of early authorship from various factors that we too can observe.

That there was an ancient worthy by the name of Job is sure from Ezekiel 14:14, 20, which mentions him along with Noah and Daniel. The reference is similar to that in Jeremiah 15:1, which uses Moses and Samuel as ancient types of righteousness. It used to be remarked that the verses in Ezekiel mean little because Daniel is one of the trio, and the book of Daniel is now regularly pla...

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