Book Background: Job

Written by Heather Zempel | February 18, 2010 |

The book of Job, most likely written sometime around 2000 BC, is the oldest book in Scripture, and it revolves around the age-old theological conundrum: Why do bad things happen to good people?

Located in the section known as “poetry,” Job can be found in the middle of the Bible right before the famous book of Psalms. The book represents masterful storytelling. Though written about an ancient man to an ancient culture, the story and the themes are timeless. It begins with a prologue (ch. 1-2) that sets the stage for the series of conversations Job has with his three friends, Elihu, and the Lord Himself. These passages are written in poetic form (ch. 3-42:6) before the author returns to prose for the epilogue (42:7-17).

Job lived in Uz, located somewhere to the east or southeast of Palestine and north of Edom. The story goes like this: A man named Job was blameless, upright, wealthy, and feared God. When God extolled Job as a model citizen, Satan rebutted that it was only because Job was abundantly blessed. God then gave permission to Satan to strip him of the blessing in order to test his heart. Job withstood the test. And perhaps equally significant—endured the test of bad advice from over-opinionated friends.

Why do bad things happen to good people? I think it’s very interesting that this is the theme of the oldest book of the Bible. And I find it equally interesting that the question is never answered. Rather, we are simply given the picture of a man who lives well in the midst of bad, hopeless circumstances.