The question of why the righteous suffer is often put forward as the main theme of the biblical book of Job. Author Effiong E. Ibok takes a different approach in his book, I Am Job, by examining the nature of human suffering through the lives of four afflicted men (including Job), not to justify their sufferings, but to demonstrate the power of faith in God in spite of their trials, pain and loss.
The author’s concept has merit in that personal testimonies are often the best teachers, especially in the realm of explaining spiritual truths. The stories in this case, however, are fictional (some “based on true accounts”). The talking points (finding strength, wisdom, patience, trust, etc.) are delivered through the main characters: a Nebraskan farmer, a Jewish Christian from New York, and a Nigerian student (the “Jobs” of the book) and some ancillary “friends,” including a pastor recently divorced, a Rhodes scholar working as a bank teller, and a beggar outside a four-star hotel.
While interesting and thought provoking, the narratives, told in first person, often lapse into preaching, which spoils the effect or tone of personal experience and creates an off-putting aura around the book. The author’s own voice, while obviously highly intelligent and spiritually sensitive, pervades the text so that all the characters sound alike, even though theoretically they hail from vastly different locales. In addition, the book has not been edited to American English standards for publication and contains many typos, lapses of tense, and logic problems.
Had the author compiled his collection of stories using true accounts of actual people and then woven through them his own rich commentary of the Book of Job, the impact would have been more powerful and believable. As it is, the book lacks authority due to its unclear voice and format.
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