on 21 April 2013
I have tried three commentaries on Job before this, including Hartley's highly rated NICOT and was always left dissatisfied. This is the Commentary on Job that I have been waiting for.
Walton uses the NIVAC layout to perfection (as he should, being one of the series editors!) The "Original Meaning" section can get a bit technical due largely to the many difficulties presented by the Hebrew of Job, but not the Bridging and Contemporary sections. Uniquely for the NIVAC series, there is a co-author for the Contemporary Sections, Kelly Lemon Vizcaino, one of Walton's students and a long time sufferer, following a serious accident at age 12, which has left her in acute pain ever since. Her sections, replying to Walton's questions are also very good and a very helpful addition to the commentary. I was left feeling how mature her answers were for one of her age. (That could sound condescending, it's not meant to be!) The Contemporary sections also contain Walton's comments, so it's like having double Contemporary sections.
The book of Job is a trial, not of Job but of God's policy to reward virtue and punish wrongdoers. The satan challenges God that this policy perverts true righteousness as people only do it for the benefits they get.
So the trial begins, and Job is the star witness. Will God's policy be vindicated or .........
Walton explains the tensions in the book using a triange depicting three elements, the Reward/Retribution Principle, God's Righteousness, and Job's righteousness. Given Job's circumstances, all three cannot be maintained simultaneously and the proponents in the book each defend the case for a different corner while deciding which is expendable. It works very well.
Then God shows up and shows them that they've all been working to a flawed hypothesis, the cosmos doesn't only run by justice but by God's wisdom, and the only answer to suffering (if there is an answer), is to trust Him.
That's a very generalised overview and Walton brings out so much more.
I was left very satisfied and at last feeling that I understood what the book was about.
(One caveat, the Commentary finishes at Ch 42 v 10, the final seven verses are not even mentioned!)