“Who Is This Who Darkens Counsel?” The Use Of Rhetorical Irony In God’s Charges Against Job -- By: David R. Jackson
WTJ 72:1 (Spring 2010) p. 153
“Who Is This Who Darkens Counsel?” The Use Of Rhetorical Irony In God’s Charges Against Job
David R. Jackson is Head of Biblical Studies at William Carey Christian School, and an Honorary Associate at Macquarie University, and the University of Sydney, in Mew South Wales, Australia. This article is a supplement to his Crying Out for Vindication: The Gospel According to Job (Phillipsburg, MJ.: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2007).
The extended debate in the Book of Job draws the reader in. Swayed by the various speakers, the reader feels pity for Job, is horrified by his suffering and outraged at the cruelty of the friends. The force of Job’s defense, especially as he speaks to and about God, heightens the discomfort. As the three friends fade away exhausted, Elihu intensifies the assault only to be followed by God himself who fearfully and aggressively questions Job. Given the prologue this seems contradictory Then suddenly God vindicates Job and condemns the friends. The resolution of this long debate, without God actually explaining why any of this has happened, sends the audience away to reflect on matters. The reader however has the benefit of the prologue. Some have tried to resolve the tension by removing the prologue and epilogue from the original form of the book, but moving the problem from author to editors still leaves the question begging.
A clue to the literary sophistication of this book may lie in Job’s observation that he is a mašal (a riddle, parable, or proverb). While claiming that God has kept his friends from understanding (Job 17:4; cf Matt 13:11) Job declares that he himself has become a mašal to them (17:6). The righteous man is a mašal and the secret to understanding him is hidden from the wicked, so Job says (17:10), “I cannot find a wise man among you.”
Polk concludes, with respect to the mašal:
From the point of view of the parable, the readers’ determination toward it, whatever their responses, identifies their place in the parable’s world, and hence their relation to its truth. In our judgements toward the parable, the parable judges us. So it is with the mašal.1
WTJ 72:1 (Spring 2010) p. 154
And so it is with the Book of Job.2 The inherent ambiguity of the wo...
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