Reading Out Loud

In preaching the book of Job, one has to remember that it is poetry and that it is primarily a book to be heard.  Up to the time of the Late Roman Empire, it is believed that people read out loud what was written.  Some think St. Augustine was the first to read silently.  Certainly an epic poem like the Iliad or Beowulf were told aloud, maybe around the camp fire at the end of the day.  Job would have been also read aloud. 

When Eliphaz says, “Man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7) Imagine that Job, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar are seated at the doorway of his tent, near a fire, under the stars as they speak in the coolness of the desert evening.  I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure they were not reading silently off of a computer screen. 

Reading the book out loud gives you some other ways to observe what is going on.  First of all, you feel the pulse of the parallelism – even in translation.  Then as you read you make decision about the text.  Is Eliphaz being gentle in Job 4, 5 or is he being guarded until he can make his veiled accusations?  Does Job speak in sorrow or in bitter accusation?

Try reading Chapters 3-5 out loud, imagining that you are Job and then Eliphaz.  It won’t take you more than 10 minutes to do it, but it will add to your understanding.


One thought on “Reading Out Loud

  1. I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten half as much out of the book of Job if I hadn’t listened to it out loud (read from the ESV). As it is, I have grown to love the book ever more deeply, and actually have grown to take it as a controlling parable for reading scripture itself. If you’re interested, take a look.

    By the way, speaking of audio, I was interviewed on a podcast just the other day on the book by an atheist. It was a fantastic conversation.

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