Elihu and the interpretation of the book of Job
Detailed analysis of a number of passages in 32-37 establishes: (1) that Elihu does not present a solution to the problem of the suffering of the innocent: his view of suffering as punishment for actual sin and intended to communicate to man the necessity of repentance, is not an enunciation of a distinctive conception of divine pedagogy or discipline, but represents essentially the same position as that of the three friends; (2) that neither his name nor his more extensive genealogy is significative of a spectral mediatorial role; it is probable that they merely fulfil the interpolator's purpose in symbolising the exalted spiritual status of Elihu and thereby legitimising the belated appearance of a hitherto unacknowledged participant in the debate; (3) that there is no basis for the conception of Elihu as a mediator between God and man; on the contrary, it is evident that he intervenes on behalf of God and against Job; his speeches are principally a polemic against the Divine speeches, to be understood, not as providing a transition to the theophany, but as rendering the appearance of God altogether unnecessary. In conclusion, it is suggested that a diachronic approach has continuing value in application not only to the book of Job, but to the Old Testament as a whole. A synchronic approach is in danger of assuming an intrinsic unity which in actuality does not exist. In its final form, Job is an amalgam that, far from possessing a theological or a literary, even a dramatic, unity, contains a multiplicity of voices and traditions, of which Elihu is one. To see the book otherwise is to neutralise the dynamic quality or message which has made it so enduring.