For whatever reason, I open the book of Job today feeling like I’ve already read it too many times. It’s a bit of a bummer and it’s long. Plus, it addresses one of the most popular debates in history, making it feel like a worn out topic. But thank God His word addresses such a topic!
I grew up assuming this book was a narrative like much of the rest of the Old Testament. This time, I will read it like it might be: an elaborate parable. It’s filed away under wisdom literature and not historical narrative, so why not? We don’t take Proverbs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes or Song of Songs as narrative, so why would I spend time trying to decide when and where and how this all took place? Do friends really sit for days together and talk in poems? Do people really own things in symbolic round numbers? Did a Biblical writer really overhear the conversations in heaven and on earth to record this tale? This could have been written by Solomon for all we know. Thankfully, it doesn’t matter, because the purpose and occasion for the book are timeless and universal.
Cultural mythologies have their place. A story doesn’t have to be a documentary to be profound, in fact, aren’t we more swept up in sagas like The Lord Of the Rings, Harry Potter or Star Wars than we are of Ken Burns documentaries?
I invite you to come along with me into a study of the symbolism and literary craftsmanship. Maybe this isn’t a new concept and you’ve always read Job this way. In any case, let’s find our new eyes for this tale as old as time.