The presence or absence of the theme of human suffering in the book of Job has long been a central debate in Joban exegesis. This chapter explores the possibilities of contrapuntal conversation between those interpreters who see the “problem” of suffering or, more specifically, the suffering of the innocent as the primary theme of the book of Job and those who contend that the book of Job does not in fact address human suffering generally.
To that end, this chapter will begin by placing the specific exegetical perspectives of two of the twentieth century's most well-known and influential proponents of academic and vernacular frames of entry, namely Gerhard von Rad and Gustavo Gutiérrez, in contrapuntal dialogue. Von Rad's work has been a foundational academic voice in biblical criticism for over seventy years. Gutiérrez, whose voice represents a comparatively recent addition to the hermeneutical conversation, was and remains a vital creative force in vernacular hermeneutics. As an arena for engagement, this chapter will examine each exegete's study of Job chapters 38:1–42:6. This section will begin with a brief summary of each interpreter's general understanding of the book of Job as a whole before moving on to his treatment of the passage in question.