Book of Job in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE I. Introductory. 1. Place in the Canon: The greatest production of the Hebrew Wisdom literature, and one of the supreme literary creations of the world. Its place in the Hebrew Canon corresponds to the high estimation in which it was held; it stands in the 3rd section, the "writings" (kethubhim) or Hagiographa, next after the two great anthologies Psalms and Proverbs; apparently put thus near the head of the list for weighty reading and meditation. In the Greek Canon (which ours follows), it is put with the poetical books, standing at their head. It is one of 3 Scripture books, the others being Psalms and Proverbs, for which the later Hebrew scholars (the Massoretes) employed a special system of punctuation to mark its poetic character. 2. Rank and Readers: The Book of Job was not one of the books designated for public reading in the synagogues, as were the Pentateuch and the Prophets, or for occasional reading at feast seasons, as were the 5 megilloth or rolls. It was rather a book for private reading, and one whose subject-matter would appeal especially to the more cultivated and thoughtful classes. Doubtless it was all the more intimately valued for this detachment from sanctuary associations; it was, like Proverbs, a people's book; and especially among the cultivators of Wisdom it must have been from its first publication a cherished classic. At any rate, the patriarch Job (though whether from the legend or from the finished book is not clear; see JOB) is mentioned as a well-known national type by Ezek 14:14,20; and James, writing to Jewish Christians (5:11), refers to the character of patriarch as familiar to his readers. It was as one of the great classic stories of their literature, rather than as embodying a ritual or prophetic standard, that it was so universally known and cherished...

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