What is in Job?
Job is the 18th book of the Bible, and it tells the complete story of Job, a God-fearing man who God handed over to Satan to test with the condition that Job himself not be harmed. Job’s servants, his sheep, his camels, and his children were all killed. In addition, Job then developed sores all over his body, but Job still held fast to God. The rest of the book features Job’s poetic discussion and debate with Job’s friends and eventually God Himself about Job’s condition and the reasons God had for it. Afterward, Job receives double what he had before he lost everything to Satan.

Who wrote it?
Job is an anonymous book. No author is known for sure. Even tradition is divided. The Talmud in Jewish tradition says that Moses could have written it, but also that it could have been written much later (see below).

When was it written?
Some lines in Job are used elsewhere within the Bible, up to the time of Isaiah and Ezekiel, which favors a date of after 600 B.C. While less reliable for dating purposes, the nature of the questions asked in Job imply theological development to support the post-600 B.C. theory as well.

When does it take place?
Job is not concerned with dating itself in history. No explicit clues are given to date the book, however, educated guesses can be made from the descriptions of Job’s life and the phrases used in the book. On one hand, there is much in the book that leads some to believe Job took place around the patriarchal period (Genesis, at least before 1500 B.C.) such as the names of the people, the lack of references to the law, and other cultural hints.

Why was it written?
The book of Job centers around a large question: the problem of evil, which affects every single person in the world. While this question is not completely answered for us, we are assured that God knows what He does when He allows it, and His intention is to promote ultimate good.

Who is in Job?
Job has only a few people in significant roles, and besides God and Satan, all of them only appear in this book. There is Job, of course, who is cursed directly by Satan, and Job’s friends Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar who discuss Job’s afflictions with him. Later on, Elihu joins the conversation when he overhears bad theology from Job and his friends. Later, God Himself speaks to the five of them and corrects them.

How does Job apply to me today?
Job is a book about one man contemplating the horrible things that have happened to him, something we can all relate to. In these times Christians and non-Christians alike are prone to wondering if this could possibly cancel out the existence of a caring God. The book of Job tells us that this thinking is from a limited viewpoint. God asks Job if he presumes to know all the workings of the earth, and if he knows better than God how to carry out God’s role. Instead of imposing our beliefs on God, the book of Job calls us to trust God, who is mindful of every single thing that happens to us, as Job concludes in Job 42:2-3

Other notes:
For more on the problem of evil (including Job as an example), see this post.


Recommended resources:

As for all posts in this series, a book introduction in a good study Bible will provide more information than listed here. The ESV Study Bible is one recommendation.
The Bible Project does a great job of explaining Job in an 11-minute video.


Biblical illustrations by Jim Padgett, courtesy of Sweet Publishing, Ft. Worth, TX, and Gospel Light, Ventura, CA. Copyright 1984. Released under new license, CC-BY-SA 3.0