Why do bad things happen to good people?
Job is a good man, blessed with children and great riches. Then, for no apparent reason, he is abandoned to terrible suffering. His children die, his wealth is stolen and he develops a foul disease. His wife tells him to curse God, and his friends no longer believe he’s the upright man they thought he was. What has patient, innocent Job done to deserve all this? Neither he nor his friends know, so will God answer Job’s searching questions about suffering and injustice?
Using personal anecdote, a witty and lively style, and drawing on his considerable theological knowledge, John Goldingay takes us deep into the unfolding story of the Old Testament. And, as he guides us in our understanding of these time-honoured words and the ancient world they describe, he helps us to apply what we read to our lives.
I love the …For Everyone series! Building on Tom Wright’s New Testament for Everyone collection, John Goldingay has embarked on an Old Testament equivalent, and believe me, it’s going well! I want to say before I begin on the main review that I admire the work, the time and effort put in by John Goldingay. Christians on the whole struggle with the Old Testament. Many people say that the Church is a ‘New Testament Church’ and seem to believe when saying that that study of the Old Testament isn’t all that important when, in actual fact, it is crucial!
The book is very well set out with helpful maps at the beginning and the content is split into bite size chunks. This is a must for any accessible commentary. What I particularly like throughout is that some words are in bold – and are very helpfully explained in a glossary at the back of the book.
Goldingay’s style is very accessible indeed, keeping to the vision of the …For Everyone series. He says right from the word “Go” that the translation of the passages is his own and that he has tried his very best to stick to the original as close as possible. A problem with translations of the Bible is that many are over-academic, and some just don’t make sense! Goldingay’s translation is a good “reader” translation – it is very well balanced between readibility and academic accuracy. Of course, the ordinary Joe Bloggs isn’t as interested in the original language as they are in the meaning behind the words on the paper.
I particularly found the various anecdotes, images, explanations and similes used throughout the book to demonstrate the deeper messages within the book of Job. Job, being a very heavy book in the Bible can throw up all sorts of questions and dilemmas, including that feeling of confusion after you’ve read the book! Goldingay takes a good stab at getting to the essence of Job, and extracting out practical applications for the modern audience. The style of the book feels to me like a university seminar – interaction, study, discussion, but not as heavy as a 2 hour Biblical Studies lecture!
One thing that you can often find with some books is a lack of wider explanation on the context of the book and how it relates to the rest of scripture. Fortunately in this book, there is not only reference to the Old Testament context, but also the wider Biblical context of the New Testament. Bonus points there!
I must say that, as with any commentary, the main ingredient is interpretation. I think it would be hard for any individual to find a commentary that they 100% agree with. There is some excellent theology in this book, but as with a lot of commentaries, I didn’t find myself in agreement with every sentence, nor did I find everything beneficial. That is not to say that it isn’t a great book, or that the theology is bad- quite the contrary!
At the end of each passage is a reflection, something to go away and chew on. I like this! The only thing I would have liked to have seen is maybe some set questions, but then again, it’s not that sort of book!
Excellent work Mr. Goldingay!