Christology in the Book of Job

It’s been some time since I last sat down and read the Bible; but with a potential virus and no audio/video capabilities available to me, I decided to read through the book of Job. And I had an almost immediate epiphany: the book of Job is less about the problem of suffering than it is about the suffering of a uniquely[1] “perfect and upright”[2] intercessor[3] who is gradually forsaken by God (in a figurative sense, by God’s granting of power to the adversary over his social, fiscal, and physical well-being)[4] and may have already been abandoned by a selfish and indifferent family[5], ultimately receiving double what he originally had in exchange for his suffering. The restitution described in chapter 42, furthermore, indicates that while Job’s position as intercessor was by no means a thing of the past[6], his new family was not marked by the gluttony and indifference of his first family[7], becoming heirs to their father’s “inheritance”[8] and not, quite literally, the judgment of God.[9]

Sound familiar?

Indeed, the narrative bears more than a superficial resemblance to the Gospel narratives, and yet Job-Christ correlations are something that I’ve not heard or read very much about. Instead, there are countless interpretations of the Job narrative as a tale about the universally shared human inability to comprehend the role of suffering in God’s master narrative. I believe that this is a valid interpretation in so far as it paves the way for drawing a subtly profound difference between Job and Christ that reaches its apex in each one’s response to suffering and loss.

A Brief Comparative Analysis

Suffering for Job is revelatory, exposing his self-righteousness[10] and pride[11]. Christ’s suffering, on the other hand, reveals that he is “sinless” and absolutely “humble”.[12] This contrast is evident in a number of areas, specifically with regard to Job’s verbosity about things he admittedly has no knowledge of, and Christ’s near silence in spite of his omniscience (see, Phil. 2:5-11). In a similar vein, Christ does not challenge God as Job does, but willingly accepts God’s will. Lastly, Christ, who was present when God “laid the foundations of the Earth”[13] as the “firstborn over all creation”[14], stands in striking contrast to Job, whose uniqueness among God’s creatures is on par with, if not (in the grand scheme of things) equal to, Behemoth[15], tying into, perhaps, the most fundamental difference between the two – the fact that Job’s suffering purges Job and no one else[16], while Christ’s suffering purges those who believe in him.[17]

[1] “…there is none like him in the Earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?” (1:8)

[2] ibid.

[3] “…Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all…continually” (1:5)

[4] 1:9-12, 2:1-7, respectively

[5] 1:3-4 & 13, seem to indicate that Job’s children were continually engaging in possibly morally compromising situations; 2:9 seems to indicate that Job’s wife is faithless, lacks empathy (i.e. is indifferent), or harbors resentment.

[6] 42:7-10

[7] 42:11-15

[8] 42:15

[9] By God delimiting the range of infliction upon Job and his family (1:12, 2:6), the narrator clearly states that it is God who had “brought upon him” such suffering and “evil” (42:11).

[10] “So these three men ceased to answer Job because he was righteous in his own eyes” (32:1).

[11] “…I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” (42:6).

[12] 1 Pet. 2:22-23

[13] 38:4

[14] Colossians 1:15-17

[15] 40:15 – Here, God states that he created Behemoth with Job, which is a figurative manner of stating that both belong to the order of creature/creation.

[16] 42:1-6

[17] 1st John 2:2


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