How can it be that good people suffer and yet God is just? For thousands of years, the profoundly moving story of Job has allowed people of faith to reflect on that question.
Among the books of the Old Testament classified as “wisdom” literature, the book of Job never loses its freshness and power. Job is a righteous man, stripped of all he holds dear, who engages in a powerful dialogue with three friends on the nature and cause of suffering. Job’s friends struggle to justify Job’s suffering and advise him on a course of action. Job counters their arguments and then turns his attention to God in a desperate plea for justice. When God’s answer comes from the whirlwind it is not what we expect.
In this commentary, Kathleen O’Connor makes the characters in the book of Job and their speeches come alive. She explores and illuminates the beliefs that undergird their perspectives, helping the reader contextualize this powerful tale. Then, O’Connor invites readers to engage with Job’s story personally and work to develop their own solution to the dilemmas faced by both Job and his friends. It is a unique approach that connects both head and heart with this powerful inquiry into suffering and God’s justice.
Kathleen M. O’Connor is author of several books including The Wisdom Literature, Jeremiah:Pain and Promise, and Lamentations and the Tears of the World. She is the William Marcellus McPheeters Professor of Old Testament, emerita, at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, Georgia, and also taught at the Maryknoll School of Theology in Ossining, New York. She is active in the Catholic Biblical Association of America and the Society of Biblical Literature.