More Information
ISBN: 9781783684557
Imprint: Langham Academic
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 13
Publication Date: 31/07/2018
Pages: 248
Series: Studies in Old Testament
Language: English

Beyond Justice

Death and the Retribution Principle in the Book of Job


In recent decades, scholars have tended to interpret what Job says about death in one of two ways. They interpret it either as part of the broader reading of death in the Old Testament, or by imposing Ancient Near Eastern mythological concepts upon the text disregarding its nature as part of the Old Testament’s wisdom tradition. Varunaj Churnai attempts to redress the latter interpretation and treats the book of Job, and its development and understanding of death, contextually. Churnai specifically looks at how Job presents the two faces of God: God’s wrathful face and God’s gracious face.

Beyond Justice demonstrates that the retribution principle allows humans to know the hidden God as it illuminates the relationship between individual and Creator. Through Job’s experiences and heartfelt outpouring of his soul before both God’s wrathful face and God’s gracious face we can know God more fully. Churnai shows how these faces of God are reconciled in the two divine speeches of YHWH, which invite both Job and the reader to move beyond retribution theology to trust in the graciousness of God.

Author Bios

Varunaj Churnai

VARUNAJ CHURNAI earned her doctorate in Biblical Studies from Concordia Seminary, St Louis, Missouri, USA, and is a biblical professor at Bangkok Institute of Theology and Bangkok Bible Seminary. She currently works as a Deputy General Secretary of Thailand Bible Society, serving as a writer, Bible translator, and administrator at TBS. She is also the Thailand country coordinator for Langham Preaching. After living in the USA for nine years she now lives in Thailand again with her husband and their two sons.


Dr Churnai advises us not to read the book of Job in terms of the too narrowly focused theology of divine retribution. She argues that the other face of God, his grace, is not to be lost sight of. An engaging, important Asian contribution to Old Testament scholarship.

Takamitsu Muraoka, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Biblical Philology,
Leiden University

Dr Churnai has presented an insightful, masterful study of a book that both tantalizes and defies platitudes. By extension, she gives also a word of hope to all who wrestle with similar issues.

Henry Rowold, DTh
International Research Emeritus Professor,
Concordia Seminary

With penetrating insight and sensitivity to the book’s literary structures, Churnai shifts the focus away from the principles of retributive justice that hold Job’s friends’ reality together. This excellent study is a must read not only for exegetes but also for systematicians and those dedicated to pastoral care.

Rev Robert A. Kolb, PhD
Professor of Systematic Theology,
Concordia Seminary

Table of Contents

  1. Abstract
  2. Acknowledgements
  3. Abbreviations
    1. Chapter 1
      1. Introduction
        1. The Thesis
        2. Current Scholarship Pertaining to the Thesis
        3. The Research in the Context of Current Scholarship
        4. The Methodological Procedure to Be Employed
    2. Chapter 2
      1. Views of Death and the Retribution Principle in the Prologue and in Job’s First Lament
        1. The Prologue (Job 1–2)
        2. Summary of the Prologue
        3. Job’s First Lament (Job 3)
    3. Chapter 3
      1. Views of Death and the Retribution Principle in the Dialogues and in Elihu Speeches of the Book of Job
        1. The Dialogues: The Three Friends and Job
        2. Elihu Speeches: Elihu
    4. Chapter 4
      1. Views of Death and the Retribution Principle in the Two Speeches of YHWH and in the Epilogue
        1. The Two Speeches of YHWH and Job’s Responses
        2. The Epilogue
    5. Chapter 5
      1. Conclusion
        1. Job 1
        2. Job 2
        3. Job 3
        4. The Friends and Their Views of Death and the Two Faces of YHWH
        5. Job, Death Wishes, and His View of the Two Faces of YHWH
        6. The YHWH Speeches – The Resolution of the Book
        7. Job’s Restoration from Death to Life
        8. Some Theological Reflections
    6. Epilogue
      1. The Application in Thai Context
    7. Bibliography