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The book of Job is classified as poetry. Here is a sample, Job 4:

1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite replied:
2“If one ventures a word with you, will you be wearied?
Yet who can keep from speaking?
3Surely you have instructed many,
and have strengthened their feeble hands.
4Your words have steadied those who stumbled;
you have braced the knees that were buckling.
5But now trouble has come upon you, and you are weary.
It strikes you, and you are dismayed.
6Is your reverence not your confidence,
and the uprightness of your ways your hope?

Did they really speak in poetry in real-time when they argued?

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  • Does the Bible have one genre or many? This is a question that involves a huge presupposition of your point of view of the Bible. Not much to be gained asking it this way. The possible answers are: Of course, because every word recorded dropped from the mouth of God and if they weren't those exact ones it would be a lie. Or: Of course not, because people don't talk like that and the book is a work of literature crafted to express a response to the problem of suffering. Or a compromise: They said those things but they were later poeticized. But none of those answers are about the book of Job. Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 15:03
  • This is a question that involves a huge presupposition of your point of view of the Bible. So what is my huge presupposition here?
    – user35953
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 15:05
  • Sorry, I meant a question whose answers necessarily involve, etc. Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 16:44
  • If you expand it into an answer, I'll upvote it :)
    – user35953
    Commented Nov 15, 2021 at 16:47

1 Answer 1

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There is no answer to this question (because we do not know!) but let me make a few observation that might help.

Human Speech Variety

Even today, in everyday speech, language exists on a complete spectrum from uncomplicated prose to poetry (in its many forms) and everything in between. For example, note the famous speeches of great orators almost always have poetic elements (at least) such as Churchill's "We shall fight on the beaches", or Martin Luther-King's "I have a dream" speech, etc.

Debates

The above extends particularly to formal debates where the best debaters use memorable, but original catchphrases complete with alliteration, rhythm, assonance and repetition. Modern political speeches are particularly good at this. These are regarded even now as are partly poetical.

JOB

The literature in Job is regarded as one of the greatest literary works of all time, even in translation, but especially in Hebrew. It is clearly the product of either a super-genius or was inspired (I am obviously inclined to the latter without excluding the former).

The fact that the debate in the book of Job lasted many days means that what was said lasted much longer that what we have recorded; thus, the record we have is almost certainly synopsis of the entire debate.

Equally, I am certain that these very clever mean debating with Job used excellent language containing many poetical elements. The Hebrew language lends itself to this kind of thing more than western languages.

Thus, while we cannot know the answer to the question exactly, I am sure that a listener would have been captivated by the dialogue as much as the reader is when reading Job today.

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