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2. What This Commentary Doesn’t Do
One would think that so many words here would suffice to say almost anything of importance about any topic. But as I write this book I am starkly aware of its deficiencies. Those deficiencies are primarily in two areas. First, I provide almost no background or introductory information fully to “locate” the Book of Job in the Ancient Near Eastern context. Second, I don’t providing full linguistic comparisons with multiple other ancient versions of Job, ranging from Greek to Syriac, Ethiopic, or to other Near Eastern Languages ranging from Akkadian to Ugaritic to (more modern) Arabic. The commentaries already mentioned can take the reader further along that road, and Norman Anderson’s rather full introduction (75 pages) in his short (300 page) commentary on Job also gives one a full exposure to some comparative literature from the Ancient Near East.
In a word, then, this commentary focuses primarily on the language and structure of argument of the Book of Job. When I run into language that just doesn’t seem clear (which is more often than one might imagine), I try to weigh suggestions of others as well as use my best judgment on what the text might mean. In several instances, however, I have figuratively thrown up my hands and cried, “Uncle!” I have concluded, only half tongue-in-cheek, that in many instances Job has a 3 plus 1 rule (or 2 plus 1 rule) that he seems to follow: for every four (or three) statements that are uttered in the book, one of them is usually unclear. It is just his way of destabilizing us, which is the subject of the next essay.