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Open Theology

Editor-in-Chief: Taliaferro, Charles

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2300-6579
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The Wildness of Creation: An Interpretation of the Voice from the Whirlwind in Job

David H. Nikkel
Published Online: 2016-09-12 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0063

Abstract

The significance of God’s speaking through the voice from the whirlwind and Job’s subsequent repentance has often been interpreted as a scolding by God for questioning divine providence and/or as the assertion of inscrutable mystery. This paper offers an alternative hermeneutics consonant with an open and relational understanding of the nature of God, arguing that Job can best be interpreted as a strong endorsement of the unpredictability and wildness of nature, as God grants creation the freedom to act according to its own integrity. This argument compares Elihu’s speech, which asserts divine complete control of nature, with the voice from the whirlwind that asserts the wildness of rain and ice, of various animals, and of the Behemoth and Leviathan, these latter associated with chaos. It concludes that Job, in experiencing God in the wildness of the whirlwind, finds a new model of divine agency wherein God graces creation with freedom.

Keywords: Behemoth; divine governance; Elihu; freedom; Job; Leviathan; whirlwind; wilderness; wildness

References

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  • Downing, Frederick L. “Voices from the Whirlwind: Contemporary Criticism and the Biblical Book of Job.” Perspectives in Religious Studies 26 (1999): 389-404.Google Scholar

  • Habel, Norman C. The Book of Job: A Commentary. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1985.Google Scholar

  • O’Brien, J. Randall. “World, Winds, and Whirlwinds: The Voice of God Meets ‘the Vice of God.’” Perspectives in Religious Studies 30 (2003): 151-60.Google Scholar

  • Robertson, David A. The Old Testament and the Literary Critic. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977.Google Scholar

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About the article


Received: 2016-07-06

Accepted: 2016-08-08

Published Online: 2016-09-12


Citation Information: Open Theology, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0063.

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©2016 David H. Nikkel. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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