The book of Job is often discussed as a theodicy---and attempt to "justify the ways of God to man." In this remarkable rereading of Job, J. Gerald Janzen brings new light to this familiar account, showing instead that God invites Job to give up the traditional Deuteronomic logic of reward-punishment for a life-affirming strategy of risk-reward. From this perspective, affirmation of life in the face of all its vulnerabilities is the path to true participation in the mystery of existence.
Drawing on a recent study of the thematics of the "east wind" in the Bible (the "whirlwind" in Job), Janzen proposes that the prominence God gives to rain in Job 38, with its renewal of the parched earth and the ensuing vigor of all forms of life, signals God's response to Job's thirst, heals Job's bitterness, and restores him to a life at the end of which he dies contented. Janzen demonstrates how life-crippling bitterness is transcended and hope in life's worthwhileness is restored in the face of grievous evil. The resolution of the Joban question lies, therefore, not in the usual interpretation of a vindication of divine justice, but rather in God's renewal of Job's appetite for life.
Janzen underscores this interpretation with a candid epilogue on his own struggle with aggressive prostate cancer, which enabled him to connect personally with Job and to find a fresh and illuminating grace. At the Scent of Water will be useful not only to provide a greater understanding of the book of Job in classrooms and on pastor's bookshelves, but also in the hands of any reader who has dealt with pain or doubt.