Presentation on theme: "The Book of Job. Last week… Second & Third Cycles – Context (ancient & modern, Jewish & Christian) Goel, Afterlife Elihu – what’s his deal? Job’s Question."— Presentation transcript:
The Book of Job
Last week… Second & Third Cycles – Context (ancient & modern, Jewish & Christian) Goel, Afterlife Elihu – what’s his deal? Job’s Question – Why do wicked people prosper while he and countless other innocent people suffer – What is man’s relationship to God? – Why does God judge people by their actions if He can alter or forgive their behavior. – How can a human can appease or court God’s justice?
YHWH’s Answer How do you think YHWH should answer? How do you think YHWH will answer?
The Divine Speeches First Speech: YHWH’s Defense of His Cosmic Design Theophany and summons to Job. Read 38:1-3 Where were you when I created Earth and the Sea? 38:4-11 Can you control Dawn, Darkness, and the Netherworld? 38:12-21 Can you govern the weather? 38:22-38 (Read 33-37) Do you understand wild animals? 38:39-39:12 (Lion, raven, mountain goats, wild ass, wild ox) What do you make of the Ostrich, the Horse, the Hawk, and the Eagle? 39:13-30
This is a mosaic of the images covering the entire sky as observed by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), part of its All-Sky Data Release. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
The Divine Speeches Closing Challenge 40:1-2 “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?” i.e. does Job want to go forward with pleading his case? Job’s Reply 40:3-5 “I am of small account… and I will not answer.” Does Job’s answer express his own shame or his disapproval of what God has said?
The Divine Speeches Second Speech: YHWH’s Control of Behemoth and Leviathan Challenge to Job to govern like YHWH. Read 40:6-14 YHWH’s subjection of Behemoth. Only its maker can approach it with the sword. 40:15-24 (Read 21-24) Challenge to Job to capture Leviathan 41:1-8 YHWH’s silencing of Leviathan 41:9-12 The Terror and Invincibility of Leviathan 41:13-29 (Read 14-24) Leviathan is Lord of Chaos and King of the Proud 41: On earth it has no equal.
The Divine Speeches Job’s Final Response 42:1-6: I have uttered what I did not understand. I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, and now my eye sees you. Read 42:6 (different translations)
The Divine Speeches Oblique relationship of the Divine Speeches to Job’s complaints – Divine Speeches don’t pertain to Job’s quite different questions. Any interpretation of the divine speeches is only one possibility…
The Divine Speeches History and the events that take place in the world are not clear. This challenges the doctrine of retribution, which is present throughout the wisdom literature, or it calls into question the apparent clarity of the historical analysis in the Deuteronomistic history (note how kings are identified as “doing good” or “doing evil” in the Books of Kings—were not some ambivalent in their behavior?). The only resort for humankind is to meditate on the wonders of creation, and that is what the reader of the divine speeches does.
The Divine Speeches In the first divine speech, Job is asked to concede God’s power and to believe in cosmic order despite the pervasive obscurity of life. In the second divine speech, Job is invited to take the place of God and abase the proud (40:11) or rule the evil beasts Behemoth (hippopotamus) and Leviathan (crocodile). Since he cannot handle Behemoth and Leviathan, he is reduced to believing in cosmic order despite the pervasive obscurity.
The Divine Speeches God’s message in the first speech (God’s presence, God’s power) is enough for some people. In the second speech we learn that God is caught in the same struggle between good and evil that we are--he can subdue, but he cannot annihilate, Behemoth and Leviathan. Job is prepared to accept such a vulnerable God. God is accessible, honest, caring, ethical, but weak--and willing to work things out with the elect.
The Divine Speeches God cannot be summoned to testify against Godself, as Job had demanded in 31:35-37 (cf. 13:21-22: Let me speak, and you reply to me). Job needed to be silenced just like Behemoth and Leviathan. He needed to give up his plan to bring litigation against Yahweh. Job: “Therefore, I retract [my lawsuit] and repent of dust and ashes.”
The Divine Speeches After the divine speeches, Job is able to cherish God’s presence “for nothing” or for its own sake (cf. 1:9). This refutes what the Satan said in 1:9 “Has not Job good reason to be God fearing? or “Does Job fear God for nothing?”
The Divine Speeches Job’s categories had been too narrow, his conception of God hopelessly anthropocentric. Both Job and his friends assumed that God primarily reacts to human conduct, a view of the world that puts the individual human being at its center. Note the attention to animals, even wild animals, in the divine speeches. Behemoth is one of God’s creatures, just as Job is, and Leviathan too is a proud, fearless, and magnificent creature, much like Job. God balances the needs of all creatures and is full of fierce love and delight for each thing without regard for its utility. God loves the world, not just its people.
The Divine Speeches God’s lack of response is the answer both Job and his readers need to hear. God disputes Job’s charges. There is a fundamental reliability in the structures of creation, and a recognition of the chaotic as part of the design of creation. God challenges the parochialism of Job’s moral imagination.
The Divine Speeches Job did not participate in creation or in the management of the world as the rhetorical questions make clear--hence his knowledge is limited. The principle of retribution is real knowledge, but it is not the whole truth. In the natural order, there is much that is incomprehensible, but all of it is the work of a wise God. To suffer does not mean that one has been rejected by God. Order in the world is not contradicted by the presence of suffering in the world. God asks Job to reconsider the mystery and complexity of the world God has created. Retribution is not the central issue - the issue is whether God can be trusted to run the world. The criterion for determining whether people are pious is the moral quality of their life, and not their material prosperity. A truly religious attitude does not mean passive resignation in the face of the doctrine of retribution, but the courage to enter into confrontation with God.