The book of Job is a complex, sophisticated treatment of the problem of undeserved suffering. It is also a sustained meditation on creation, on humanity's place in creation, and on God's ordering of creation. In this study, Kathryn Schifferdecker offers a close literary and theological reading of the book of Job—particularly of the speeches of God at the end of the book—in order to articulate its creation theology, which is particularly pertinent in our environmentally-conscious age.
After all of Job's agonized questioning, God's answer does not directly address Job's questions about undeserved suffering or divine justice. Instead, the divine speeches take Job on a God's-eye tour of creation in all its beauty and complexity. In extraordinarily detailed and beautiful poetry, the divine speeches show Job that the world is radically non-anthropocentric, that there exist wild places and animals whose value has nothing to do with their usefulness to humanity, and that God delights in the freedom of God's creatures. This vision of the divine speeches enables Job to move out of despair into renewed participation in God's often-dangerous but beautiful world.
This creation theology of Job, virtually unique in the Bible, has much to say to us today, as we struggle theologically and politically with the issues of environmental degradation and humanity's relationship to the natural world.
Out of the Whirlwind: Creation Theology in the Book of Job is a lucid and well-researched study on the book of Job. It is not encumbered with endless critical debates, though Schifferdecker is clearly aware of the issues and engages with them when they are important to her argument. The book is refreshingly constructive and joins a growing corpus of literature on creation theology and OT/HB interpretation. Especially illuminating is how the motifs of boundaries and of procreation weave through the various sections of the book. The volume is a welcome contribution to Joban scholarship.
It is a regrettably rare thing for a work of careful biblical exegesis to offer a good read, suitable for a reasonably broad audience, on a topic of some contemporary relevance. It is highly unusual for a dissertation in biblical studies to offer all that, as this one does. Schifferdecker's book makes a fresh contribution to the perennially interesting study of Job by focusing specifically, though not narrowly, on the different views of creation and humanity's place in creation that are articulated by Job and his various interlocutors, including God...Both Schifferdecker's prose and her argument are consistently well crafted; sometimes she is not just persuasive but movingly eloquent. Readers can follow the general theological and literary argument without getting bogged down in scholarly particulars; technical matters and debate among specialists are reserved for the footnotes, which are themselves as brief as clarity and good coverage permit. Biblical exegesis would have a better name and a wider readership, if more of it looked like this.
- 218 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard Divinity School
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