The issue of whether the biblical character Job is a “real person” or not is not a Christian essential. It is not necessary that Job be a real, historical person for the book to have its proper theological and practical influence. Why? Simply, some literary genres can communicate what God desires without referencing actual historical events.
The fact that Job may not be a “real person” should not bring doubt upon the inspiration and authority of God’s word in the book. If God is the sovereign, divine author behind Scripture, and he chose to include Job in his self-revelation as a wisdom parable, not “history,” then it’s still authoritative and beneficial to God’s people. The theological truths in Job (particularly God’s sovereignty, mystery, power, perfection, etc.) are not eliminated if the book is a parable, for they are still confirmed in other parts of Scripture. Doubting Job’s personal historicity is not the same as doubting Adam’s personal historicity, for example. Doubting the latter would generate quite a dilemma as it concerns the origin of man, the fall, and Christ as the Second Adam. In other words, doubting Adam would seriously undermine other parts of Scripture (particularly Rom. 5). Doubting Job would not present the same type of theological problems.
Where am I at on the issue? In the end, it seems best to me that based on the references to Job elsewhere in Scripture (Ez. 14:14, 20; James 5:11) and the various historical references in the book (e.g. Job 1:1) that Job should be understood as a real, historical person. Still, we must remember that no matter how one interprets the book (parable or history) if one believes God’s intention is behind the human author’ s activity, then Job, like the other 65 books, can be considered sufficient and authoritative.
3 responses to “Does It Matter if Job Was a Real Person?”
Whether or not Job is a real person, every single real person has experienced his frustration and heartache. That makes Job pretty real to me.
JS, that’s a great point. Some may say that the amount of suffering Job goes through is “extreme” and so it must be a parable, but that is not necessarily true. To be human in a fallen world means suffering is inevitable. Why wouldn’t God choose to showcase his glory in a story like Job’s—one who suffered more than most people who have ever lived? It’s a forerunner to showcasing his glory in the cross, where Christ, as the innocent sufferer par excellence, takes our sufferings so that we might have his blessing and prosperity.
[…] Job his considered a prophet in the Abrahamic religions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. While conservative religious believers maintain he was a real person, others argue he was not. Some say it doesn’t matter. […]