IV. Literary Structure

IV. Literary Structure

The arrangement of this book includes a large poetic section (3:1-42:6) flanked by shorter prose sections. The prologue (1:2-2:13) pictures Job in his original happiness and details his calamities; the epilogue (42:7-17) depicts Job's restoration and final satisfaction.

The bulk, of the poetic section is given over to the speeches of Job and his comforters (4:1-27:23), aligned in three cycles:

ParticipantsCycle 1Cycle 2Cycle 3
Eliphaz4-51522
Job6-716-1723-24
Bildad81825
Job9-101926
Zophar1120?
Job12-142127

They are flanked by Job's opening soliloquy (3:1-26) and his closing peroration (29:1-31:40). Ch. 28 disturbs the symmetry of the book with its Hymn on Wisdom and the uncertainty of the speaker. Chs. 32-37 contain the presentations of Elihu, who is neither anticipated in the prologue nor assessed in the epilogue. Possibly Elihu should be seen as an adjudicator, providing a human estimate (32:12; 33:12) of the previous speeches. The book ends with the Lord's critique (42:7).