Among those who care about such things there is a debate as to the veracity of the story of Job. Succinctly, was Job a real person or is the book about him a work of fiction?
Supporting evidence that Job wasn’t a real person:
- Job is not mentioned in any of the historical books of the Bible and only referred to once outside of the book bearing his name.
- Job was “blameless and upright” (Job 1:1). And despite being afflicted, he “did not sin” (Job 1:22 & 2:10). Since only God is without sin, this characterization is false. Although it could also be hyperbole, a practice that occurs elsewhere in the Bible.
Supporting evidence that Job was a real person:
- God, as recorded by the prophet Ezekiel, refers to Job along with Daniel and Noah (Ezekiel 14:19-20). Surely, if Job was fictional, God would not mention him in the same context as two people who did live (for whom there is biblical support).
- In that same passage, God testifies that Job was righteous. It seems unlikely that God would so affirm a fictitious person as righteous.
So was Job a real person or not? Was his story fact or fiction?
The answers to these questions will never be fully resolved, but for me it doesn’t matter. Whether he is real or imagined, whether his story is fact or fiction, Job’s account is part of God’s inspired word. So regardless we can learn from it, be inspired by it, and be strengthened in our faith because of it.
Arguing about its origin is only a distraction from the truth that in contains.
May the Bible’s account of Job teach us and point us to God.
Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.