Book Review – “Job 38-42 by David J.A. Clines” [Word Biblical Commentary vol. 18b]

“But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” [Ecclesiastes 12:12 NASB]

Occasionally I am drawn to this passage especially when I get caught up with a book that would be considered by most as a “reference book.” In the past I’ve openly admitted that I’m a bibliophile, a “lover of books,” and that admission still stands. I’ve also admitted that I’m more academically than practically minded, in that I love books of an academic nature, ones that delve into the nuance of a biblical passage drawn out by the ancient languages they were originally written in, hence I’ve much enjoyed my latest read, Job 38-42 of the Word Biblical Commentary written by David J.A. Clines.  

I’ll admit from the onset that I know very little about the author of this work beyond the background information presented in the front flap of the book, yet by reading the book one quickly comes to the conclusion that Clines is a first rate biblical scholar and exegete. I only wish I had the first two volumes on Job to get a complete picture of this momentous work. I first came into contact with the “Word” series of commentaries while a student in Bible College, and I have always appreciated their scholarly approach to scripture, only the price tag ($40-50 per volume) kept me from adding them to my library.

In this volume (№ 3 of 3) Clines covers the later portion of the book of the book of Job; chapters 38-42. In the text we find God’s first speech (38:1- 40:2) Job’s first reply (40:3-5) God’s second speech (40:6-41:34) and Job’s second reply (42:1-6) followed by the Epilogue (42:7-17) in all aspects Clines does a masterful job with the text.  

There are several aspects of this book that lends it to my liking.

(1)  The Explanation Section at the end of each chapter provides a clear insight into the meaning of the text. It’s not overly academic, as to appeal to the novice researcher, yet when taken with the other sections; it’s of high academic standards, as to appeal to the advanced researcher… the best of both worlds.  

(2)  This is not a translated work from another language. Though I’ve been blessed by many works of foreign writers, this work was done in the English language, and therefore avoids any pit-falls that may come from any “lost in translation” type issues.  

(3)  The commentators prepare their own translation of the text. I especially like this aspect of the commentary because it allows one to see the text with new eyes on biblical Hebrew. What the text loses in continuity (one text throughout, eg. NIV or NASB) it makes up in perspective.

(4)  The general appearance and set-up of the book. From the onset it looks confusing, and jumbled, and for some this will be a “turn-off,” but there is a method behind the madness, and I love it. It allows for a person to find all information on a particular passage… be it references, language issues, or commentary. It’s all there in one place, and there is something for everyone.   

(5)  But beyond all that the thing that makes this book most appealing to me is the extensive, and I mean extensive bibliography (250 pg.) that is included in the book. It looks to contain everything or most everything of substance that’s ever been written on the book of Job, and I would have purchased it simply for this feature!

This book may not be for everyone, but for a serious student of Scripture it’s a worthwhile investment, if you can afford it. As with the other books in this series, the scholarship is superb, and is what one would expect under the leadership of the late Bruce Metzger. Though one (myself included) may not agree with all the conclusions drawn, it’s a work that encourages critical thinking, and promotes textual understanding. So with everything taken together I highly recommend this book to the public at large.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishersas part of their “booksneeze program.” I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions and views expressed here are my own.

I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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About Jim

I'm currently the Communications Director for Missouri Operation for Vigorous Evangelism [MOVE] A Church planting ministry located in Jefferson City, MO. I believe that the church is the primary means through which God works in a community to love and redeem it. Here at MOVE we’re discovering new ways to be used for this purpose as God leads us and lights His path for us. As God forms this organization and shapes it for a new kind of world I want to be right in the middle of what He’s doing, traveling on this road of a disciple’s journey.

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  1. Resources for Job 41:34 - 42:7 - February 13, 2012

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