“Now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5). Few biblical texts are more daunting, and yet more fascinating, than the book of Job—and few have been the subject of such diverse interpretation.
For Robert Fyall, the mystery of God’s ways and the appalling evil and suffering in the world are at the heart of Job’s significant contribution to the canon of Scripture. He offers a holistic reading of Job, with particular reference to its depiction of creation and evil, and finds significant clues to its meaning in the striking imagery it uses. He takes seriously the literary and artistic integrity of the book of Job, as well as its theological profundity. He concludes that it is not so much about suffering per se as about creation, providence, and knowing God, and how—in the crucible of suffering—these are to be understood. He encourages us to listen to this remarkable literature, to be moved by it, and to see its progress from shrieking protest to repentance and vision.
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“The argument of this study, that Behemoth is the figure of Death and that Leviathan is a guise of Satan, grows from a translation and exegesis of the relevant passages; likewise the central theme of the divine council includes a translation and commentary on Job 19:22–27.” (Page 18)
“First, the issue is not what Yahweh knows, but what Job does not know and what he must therefore learn by the only way he can (i.e. by bitter experience that his faith is indeed equal to what lies ahead of him). More exactly, through his experience he is to learn that God is to be trusted fully, although for most of the book the evidence points in the opposite direction. Second, it is around Yahweh’s power not his knowledge that the problem centres. Can the Lord provide? The whole story has striking parallels with the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22. This is no ‘legal fiction’; God’s justice is on the line and everything depends on the final verdict. God must act to vindicate not only Job but himself.” (Page 35)
“In other words, Satan is not simply a minor figure who has a walk-on part in chapters 1 and 2 and then disappears from the action. Rather the battle with evil is a major motif in the book as a whole. Once again the prologue is essential to establish two major truths. The first is that Yahweh is totally supreme; he alone has the power of life and death (2:6: ‘you must spare his life’). The second is that Satan has enormous power and uses it to afflict Job grievously. This is the basis for the immensely powerful exploration of God’s ways and the mysteries of creation and providence which are at the heart of Job.” (Page 20)
We do not begin to gain a real grasp of the message of the book of Job, and of its contribution to the canon, apart from a more detailed grasp of its imagery and drama. Here Dr. Fyall is a sure-footed guide: not only does he lecture in Old Testament, but he preaches regularly in a church that draws several hundred university students—something that does not usually happen unless the preacher has something to say from the Bible, and says it well. In this book many more can listen with pleasure and profit.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Fyall’s study uncovers references to Canaanite mythology that have long been hidden in favour of more naturalistic interpretations of the text. The discussions are quite technical, but the subject matter is well worth the effort. I’ll never read the book of Job the same way again.
—Stephen Barkley, pastor, Wellington Street Pentecostal Church
Robert Fyall is senior tutor in ministry for the Cornhill Training Course at Scotland. He was director of Rutherford House—a research, training, and publishing center in Scotland for church leaders. He also taught Old Testament at St. John’s College in Durham, England, in addition to pastoring a church there. He is the author of Daniel: Tale of Two Cities, Teaching Amos: Unlocking the Prophecy of Amos for the Bible Teacher, and Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in the Book of Job.