Books, Brokenhearted Theology, Church, Equipping, Meaning, Ramblings, Reading Reflections

Job 38-42 by David Clines (book review)

In 1989, the first volume of David Clines’ commentary on the Book of Job was published, covering the first twenty chapters. In 2006, the second volume was released, covering the book through Chapter 37. This month, after some delay (on the publisher’s part, according to the book’s front matter) the third and final volume is released. And people Job scholar’s everywhere rejoiced!

Having taken two courses on the Book of Job (one as an undergrad at the University of Wisconsin and another as a grad student at Fuller), I came to appreciate David Clines as a thoughtful, engaging, and provocative scholar. That last adjective is the one I like best, particularly when dealing with Job – such a puzzling piece of ancient literature perfectly suited for deconstruction and philosophizing.

The commentary series’ layout is not the most user-friendly, but it is thorough and readable. In each of the three volumes comprising this monster work, Clines engages deeply into the text of Job (analyzing words, phrases, language construction, etc.), the story of Job (the setting, the social and cultural norms, the plot and direction the book takes), but also the meaning of Job (historically, ethically, and philosophically).

This final volume, specifically, takes up the final portion of Job’s story, beginning with Chapter 38 – “then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm…” Along with commentary on the closing chapters of Job, Clines has included emendations and additions to the previous volumes, along with a massive (almost 250 pages) bibliography, cataloguing what must be nearly all available work on the Book of Job.

Clines’ reading of Job challenges the conventional notion that the Book helps readers understand the problem of evil, arguing instead that all the responses Job receives to his pleas – from his wife, from his friends, and from God – do not provide answers or reasons for suffering and pain. In closing, Clines suggests that the story of Job concludes existentially and post-theologically: Job is present with his restored life to live out his years having given up on his theological pursuits, resolving that “there is more to life than justice – more perhaps even than theology in general” (1242).

Disclosure of material connection in compliance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: I received a copy of this book for review, though the opinions I have expressed are my own.


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