The Elihu Speeches Their Place And Sense In The Book Of Job -- By: Ragnar Andersen

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 66:1 (NA 2015)
Article: The Elihu Speeches Their Place And Sense In The Book Of Job
Author: Ragnar Andersen

The Elihu Speeches1
Their Place And Sense In The Book Of Job

Ragnar Andersen



The different opinions about the Elihu speeches (Job 32-37) contribute greatly to confusion in research on the book of Job. In this paper I discuss whether the Elihu speeches are later interpolations or original to the writing, and I defend the latter position. Furthermore, I critically analyse current views on the speeches’ role in the book as a whole and argue that Elihu is an inspired wisdom teacher who paves the way for Job’s encounter with God. Elihu does not merely repeat the claims of Job’s three friends.

1. Introduction

The extensive research on the book of Job reflects an increasing methodological pluralism and a diversity of research interests.2 One can get the impression of a confusion of literary-critical and editorial-historical hypotheses, which dissolves the inner unity of the book and envisages complex ideas that not only complement but also compete

with one another.3 This paper on the Elihu speeches contributes to the discussion on unity and consistency in the book of Job.

Elihu, who speaks in Job 32-37, is in Harald Martin Wahl’s formulation ‘one of the most differently judged personalities of the Old Testament’.4

In Ancient Judaism and the Early Church there are examples of perceptions of Elihu as a false prophet. However, Elihu is positively evaluated in Jewish exegesis in the Middle Ages. As for instance, according to Saadiah Gaon’s commentary on Job from the tenth century or Abraham Ibn Ezra’s commentary in 1140, Elihu has the solution to the question of the relationship between God’s righteousness and Job’s accident.5 However, in the Church a devaluation of Elihu’s speeches has been noticeable from Gregory the Great’s Moralia in Iob and onward. Though surely regarding Elihu as orthodox, Gregory considered him as distastefully arrogant in form.6 Luther is more critical, comparing Elihu with Zwingli and considering both as useless windbags.7 However, Calvin (Sermons sur le livre de Job, 1554-55) holds Elihu in high...

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