Can God be trusted in the midst of our suffering? Although the book of Job offers its own response to this question, many in our day remain deeply dissatisfied with that response. While the reasons for this dissatisfaction are many, they are often linked to the assumption that the book was written to answer the question “why do the righteous suffer?” In its confrontation and engagement with the mystery of suffering in Job’s life, the book does not provide an answer to this question, but instead encourages its readers to find rest in the wisdom of God in the midst of suffering by raising the question “where shall wisdom be found?”
This course seeks to introduce students to a ruled reading of the book of Job in light of its theological context, literary structure, and verbal profile. A critical discussion of the history of Job’s interpretation, both premodern (Gregory, Maimonides, Aquinas, Calvin) and modern (Kafka, Jung), will also form an essential part of the course. Various exegetical and historical issues raised by the book will be discussed, not merely for their own sake, but specifically with a view toward promoting a deeper understanding of the character of Job as Christian scripture. To that end, the book’s outlook on a number of theological and literary issues will be canvassed, for example, the contribution made by wisdom, providence and figuration for assessing Job’s message, as well as the literary and theological significance of conflict and reversal.