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Old Testament Ethics in Job 31

Keun Jo Ahn 1

1호서대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This paper explores the concept of morality in Job 31. Job 31 has been regarded as a consummating point in the Old Testament ethics, which is compared to Jesus' teachings on the Mount. This study has proved why it is so and has found ethical principles that integrate both legal and sapiential morality. First, genre problems of the text is literally discussed. Apart from the dominant literary form of oath which starts with (if), the first mention of Job in the text takes the form of covenant making. This clash of disparate genres is intentional in order to maximize Job's claim of self-innocence. Second, the problem of the disposition of the text is settled by canonical criticism. The last oath(31: 38-40a) is arranged separately from the main body of the innocent oaths. Canonical reading of the text renders the verses in question as a dramatic conclusion of Job's innocence by which we should recollect the curse of the ground(Gen. 3: 17-18) from the sin of covenant-breaking. Third, "Job's covenant with eyes" is theologically entertained. Ethical integrity of Job emerges from this inward act of self-examination. Through analyses of the text, we discover that Job 31 has a schematic structure concentrating on radical sense of morality. There are 16 oaths of innocence consisting of 12 ethical items. Each item includes legal morality such as reverence of God, resistance to lasciviousness, prohibition of stealing, ban on perjury. Yet, wisdom morality elaborates genuine spirit of legal regulations such as purity in heart, equality of human beings under Creator, vulnerability to inner immorality, relatedness to the land. The critical point of Job 31 is to discover original meanings of legal teachings by stressing inwardness and intention of moral being. As a result, we have four principles of the Old Testament Ethics in Job 31: principles of 1. inwardness, 2. relatedness, 3. integrity, and 4. piety. The study of Job 31 in the perspective of biblical morality has excavated the spirit of the legal imperatives of the Old Testament and highlighted the genuine character of the Law. We have discovered that the sapiential touch of the ethical elements of the Law facilitates the bridge between the Old Testament morality and the Sermon of the Mount in the New Testament.

Citation status

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