I was studying Job a few months ago in the hopes of teaching a class on it but the Lord had other plans. During that time I posted a chiasm from Job 1 and hoped to share some more throughout my studies. With my studies are on hold, most of my ideas for Job have to follow also, but here’s a freebie that I intended to share a while ago.
Job as a Chiasm
One very intriguing possibility is the idea of the book itself being a chiasm. This was pointed out to me through correspondence with Joel Wingo, a teacher at Calvary Chapel Bible College Murietta who has been teaching Job for a number of years now. This chiastic structure emerged from his studies of the book.
The chiasm is founded on noticing how the themes unfold throughout the book.
Here’s his outline below:
A. Prologue: Job blessed and righteous
B. Prologue: Job accused by Satan and destroyed
C. Dialogue: Job Laments (decreation, order to chaos)
D. Dialogue: Preventative chastening (Eliphaz’s first speech)
E. Dialogue: Sin & retribution (Job’s three friends speeches)
F. Wisdom is with God, not men (Job 28)
E’. Dialogue: Sin & retribution (Job)
D’. Dialogue: Preventative chastening (Elihu)
C’. Dialogue: The LORD speaks (creation, chaos to order)
B’. Epilogue: Job vindicated by the LORD and restored
A’. Epilogue: Job blessed and righteous
What this means
If the book of Job was indeed intentionally compiled to reflect this (or a similar) chiastic structure, then many implications arise. I hope to discuss this further with Joel and post his insights, but here are some for the time being.
- Structural: This would be a strong argument in favor of this book originally being formed as a complete piece, against those who argue for many different editors.
- Thematic: The speech on wisdom being found in God alone (ch28) is the the very centre of the book. This puts it in good company with the message of other Wisdom Literature books (eg. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes).
- Theological and Intepretative: Interpreting the purpose and function of certain sections (Speech on Wisdom, God’s dialogue) is aided by noticing their place within this chiasm.
Please comment if you have any thoughts and insights!