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The Gentle Voice of God in Job 38

From: Journal of Biblical Literature
Volume 132, Number 3, 2013
pp. 527-541 | 10.1353/jbl.2013.0042



The book of Job attracts scholarly attention in abundance, but it does not enjoy a consensus even on the most basic issues of purpose and meaning. However, many commentators note the importance of the divine speeches in Job 38:1–42:6. Some see them as the hermeneutical key to understanding the book, while others view the Yhwh speeches as irrelevant or incongruous. Among those who consider the divine speeches to be exegetically significant, opinions on the purpose and contribution of the Yhwh speeches vary widely. The present work does not presume to settle the exciting and vigorous debate. Rather, it offers an examination of subtle textual clues that hint at the tone of the Yhwh speeches. Assuming that tone must be established early in a literary unit, an analysis of ch. 38—especially its beginning—forms the core of the article. This study suggests that the tone of the divine speech in ch. 38 is one of genuine compassion and comfort; God speaks with Job as a powerful being who intimately comforts Job in his suffering.

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