Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: Commentary on Job 38-42

3 out of 5 stars
David J.A. Clines is considered to be a top-notch biblical scholar and after some 20+ years his commentary set on the book of Job has been concluded in the Word Biblical Commentary18b: Job 38-42. To give a review of Clines work after considering this concluding piece would be like watching the final half hour of The Lord of the Rings and offering up comments. Yet even a cursory overview can shed some light on the overall weight and direction of this work, as well as its usefulness.

I would venture to say this concluding commentary speaks to the most interesting material in the book of Job, save perhaps for the first chapter which sets up the sorry state in which Job lives through most of the book. Clines shows his scholarship in his translation from the Hebrew of the chapters, along with translation notes that rival and may even surpass those of the NET Bible.

Although Clines is a scholar and this work is very thorough (the bibliography for the three-volume set on Job takes up half the book), he does stray from commonly-accepted understandings of the overall meaning and purpose of the book. I would say his excellent analysis of the “trees” has caused him to miss the “forest”. He summarizes the result of the discourse between God and Job this way:
Job is neither triumphant nor defeated. The divine speeches have in the end neither satisfied nor humiliated him. It is almost as if Yahweh had not spoken from the tempest, for Job has chosen not to hear in the divine speeches the sunny side of the world’s structure and management, and he has learned nothing except to have his worst fears confirmed that he will not get justice from God. No doubt he is better off knowing where he stands and having nothing left to hope for.
In the end, Clines argues that Job gives up his quest for an answer to suffering and evil and instead lives his life to the fullest. His conclusions miss the point, and goes to show that a scholarly work is definitely helpful for understanding, but is not our final authority on matters of faith and practice: Sola Scriptura!

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their Booksneeze book review program. I was not obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are mine.

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