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BIBS412 Special Topic: The Book of Job

A detailed study of the genre, argument and theology of the book of Job in the context of the scriptural canon and the religious thought of the ancient world.

Paper title Special Topic: The Book of Job
Paper code BIBS412
Subject Biblical Studies
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Second Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,120.06
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $4,439.89

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One 300-level BIBS of BIBX paper
Limited to
Limited to: BTheol(Hons), BA(Hons), PGDipTheol, PGDipArts, MTheol, MMin, PGDipMin, DipGrad
Teaching staff

Lecturer: Dr James Harding

Paper Structure

As is customary with distance papers in Theology & Religion, the special topic will be delivered by a combination of a teaching day (offered in Auckland, possibly Wellington depending on student numbers, and Dunedin) and a series of recorded videoconferences, supported by Zoom ( and Blackboard ( The teaching day will be seminar based and will be made up of three 2-hour sessions, covering basic topics - the usual material covered in Old Testament “Introduction” (Einleitung), such as matters of date, structure, literary genre, and socio-cultural background - that will provide the framework for the seven videoconferences. The videoconferences will be based on interactive class discussions that will assume quite extensive background reading and lead to further extensive study. These videoconferences will focus on scholarly discussions of particular passages from Job, some of which we will study twice, so that we can home in on the particular theme of the trial of God. They will also provide the venue for student oral presentations, to which formative feedback will be given as a basis for the submission of one of the written assignments. Students based in or near Dunedin will be able to attend the videoconferences in person if they wish.


Teaching Day:           

  1. The ancient Job tradition
  2. The date, genre, structure, and cultural milieu of the book of Job
  3. What is the book of Job about?


  • Videoconference 1:                 The Prologue (Job 1:1-2:13) and Epilogue (Job 42:7-17)
  • Videoconference 2:                 Job’s complaint (Job 3:1-26) and the responses of Job’s friends (Job 4:1-5:27; 8:1-22; 11:1-20)
  • Videoconference 3:                 Job responds to his friends (Job 6:1-7:21; 9:1-10:22; 12:1-14:22)
  • Videoconference 4:                 The second and third cycles of speeches (Job 15:1-35; 16:1-17:16; 18:1-21; 19:1-29; 20:1-29; 21:1-34; 22:1-30; 23:1-24:25; 25:1-6; 26:1-14; 27:1-23; 28:1-28)
  • Student presentations
  • Videoconference 5:                 The trial of God and Job’s oath of innocence (Job 9:1-10:22; 16:1-17:16; 19:1-29; 29:1-31:40)
  • Student presentations
  • Videoconference 6:                 Elihu responds to Job and his friends (Job 32:1-37:24)
  • Videoconference 7:                 Divine speeches (38:1-40:2; 40:6-41:26) and Job’s responses (Job 40:3-5; 42:1-6)


There are three assessment tasks for this special topic, each designed to hone specific skills that will be necessary at master's and doctoral levels. In each case, there is flexibility in respect of the precise choice of topic so that students can focus in detail on issues that interest them particularly. They will work on their choice of topic in close consultation with the lecturer and in dialogue with other students.


Assignment 1: Literature review (Forschungsbericht), ca. 2,500 words

A critical survey of recent research on one particular aspect of the book of Job and its ancient context, drawing on commentaries, monographs, scholarly articles, essays, and review articles, and making full use of available online resources. This assignment is designed to prepare for assignment 3.


Assignment 2: Oral presentation and exegesis, ca. 2,500 words

A detailed exegesis of one, relatively short, pericope in the book of Job, paying attention to literary form, poetics, place in the tradition history (where relevant, e.g. in the case of Job 27:9-23 or the Elihu speeches) and structure of the book, and relationship to other traditions within and beyond the scriptural canon. The exegesis should draw on the full range of recent research (cf. ass. 1, above), and should be limited to quite a short portion of text, potentially as restricted as Job 4:12-21, 7:11-16, or 42:1-6. Students who have successfully completed BIBS 313 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 3, and any other students enrolled in the paper with equivalent proficiency in Hebrew, will be expected to work wholly from the Hebrew text of Job, in consultation with the lecturer. This assignment will be preceded by a short oral presentation delivered in class, of about 15 minutes, to which formative feedback will be given.


Assignment 3: Essay, ca. 3,500 words

Either - Essay on one major theme in the book of Job or on one significant question raised in the scholarly literature (for students who have not completed BIBS 313 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 3 or equivalent)

or - Word study of one significant Hebrew noun or verb as it appears in the book of Job or an essay on some aspect of the poetics of the Hebrew text of Job (for students who have successfully completed BIBS 313 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 3 or equivalent). This assignment is designed to build on assignment 1.

NB: Students who have successfully completed BIBS 313 Hebrew Old Testament Exegesis 3 (or equivalent) may, if they wish, select the first option, with the proviso that their assignment should be based on an engagement with the Hebrew text of Job.

To be advised
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, interdisciplinary perspective, lifelong learning, scholarship, communication, critical thinking, cultural understanding, ethics.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

By the end of this paper students will be able to:

  • demonstrate a sophisticated grasp of the contents, structure, genre, theology, and socio-cultural background of the book of Job;
  • demonstrate a sound understanding of the place of the book of Job in the canon(s) of the Jewish and Christian scriptures and in the religious thought of the ancient world;
  • articulate a critical awareness of the range of different approaches to the book of Job represented in modern scholarship;
  • demonstrate an advanced ability in the critical and exegetical skills of the scholarly discipline of Biblical studies; and
  • engage critically in debate on the major questions with which scholars are currently wrestling regarding the meaning and significance of the book of Job.

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Second Semester

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

Block Teaching

Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Friday 15:00-20:50 29