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Do God and Satan talk? God, Job & The Enigma of Suffering Nov 9, 2003
"The Book of Job appears to me unhistorical because it begins about a man quite unconnected with all history or even legend, with no genealogy, living in a country of which the Bible elsewhere has hardly anything to say..." C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy
Why do we suffer? "The question of the generation,'Why do we suffer what we suffer?' had from the beginning a religious character;"Why?" here is not a philosophic interrogative asking after nature of things, but a religious concern with the acting of God." Martin Buber
The Dimensions of Job: With Sorjen Kierkegaard I expect you to read it very carefully. why? Because Professor Glatzer got with him a marvelous band of thinkers to try to unclue the mystery of Job and his calamity. Buber, Kaufmann and Baeck relate Job to Koholet, while God hides His face, as the psalmist cried again and again. Nahum Glatzer has orchestrated some of the most controversial commentaries on Job's themes and introduced the socio-ethical background for theodicy, based on Jewish, Christian, and Humanist view points. His elaborate introduction and first three chapters masterfully guide you into the Issue of theodicy. He came to his conclusion in the last two chapters, the mysterious ways of God, and Job as a lesson in faith.
The Mystery of Job: The book of Job is considered the most ancient of bible books, yet it holds a challenge for all Old Testaments theologians, from Von Rad to W. Brueggemann. Many suggestions and insinuations were given to his original identity or its literary form; a Greek mythology, an Egyptian wisdom, or a Jewish poetry. Its reputation, perhaps earned because of its obscure Hebrew, or its poetic rendering, making its translations harder to understand, perhaps because it's topic is too painful and the answers 'Theodicy oriented'. When feeling persecuted by men, or abandoned by God, many think, "It has been rightly said that behind the treatment of Job's fate in this discussion lie "very bitter experience of a supra individual kind." When the sufferer complains, "He hath broken me down on every side, and I am gone" (Job 19:10), this seems no more a complaint of a single person." Martin Buber
Main issues in Job: Most scholars argue that Job is a poetic apology in vindication of the justice and goodness of Adonai, Lord of Hosts. Although these divine features are evident in the narrative, its main purpose may stay obscure. Job is blameless and upright from the beginning and, although embittered, nothing is able to move his faith. He declared, "If He would slay me, I should argue my cause to His face." Job 13:15, NEB. Satan was allowed to test Job and was unsuccessful. Job didn't he was proving God's confidence in him. The integrity of Job is thus an indicator of the greater eternal truth of the integrity of Adonai Himself. Trials came to God's children through the ages, Satan's claims proven by the faithful to be always in vain, by the power to overcome through the grace of the Victorious Lord. Nottingham patristic, Dr. G. Bebawi who directed the Jewish project of U. of Cambridge, wrote Under this title, "Do God and Satan talk? This attitude finds in the poetical character of the book the best argument that like all poetry, some parts must be taken as a parable. We will miss the message of the book if we jump into the deep end of the literal studies. It is important to realize that the Book of Job is a narrative. That is, it is arranged as a chronological account of a series of events. It is a mixture of prose and poetry, as is the Pentateuch. It tells of the experiences of an exceptionally blameless and pious individual who was also a very wealthy and prosperous person, and how he was struck down as the result of an argument in heaven between God and a subordinate being, Satan, losing his wealth, his family, his health and his self-respect and social status."
Job in Talmud & Midrash: In Sefer Ha Aggadah, we read the following account: A certain sage who was sitting before Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani said: Job never was and never existed - he is no more than a paradigm. Rabbi Samuel replied: To confound such as you, Scripture says, "There was a man in the land of Uz, Job was his name." (Job 1:1). The sage retorted: If it is as you say, what of the verse "The poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and reared," etc.(2 Sam. 12:3)? Did such a thing really happen? Was not the tale a paradigm? So, too, Job was a paradigm. Rabbi Samuel said: But if so, why are his name and the name of his land mentioned?' Jewish traditions, confirm that Job was not a Hebrew as we read. Resh Lakish said: Job [described in Scripture] never was and never existed. What did Resh Lakish mean by saying Job never was and never existed? He meant only that the unbelievable sufferings Job underwent according to Scripture [took place]. Why then were they set down about him? Because if they had come upon him, he would have not been able to withstand them. Rabbi Hanina said: Job was a Gentile. For, Rabbi Hiyya taught, the Holy One said: One righteous Gentile rose up for Me among the nations. So I gave him [extraordinary] reward [in this world] and let him go. Who was He? Job. (Babylonian Talmud)
Christians on Job: "The early Fathers of the church considered Job a historical person. The Book of Job was written in poetry and in prose, which opened the book for much criticism as if poetry is not good enough for God and humanity to be a way of communication. The scene in heaven, where we see almost a kind of conference where God, the Angels and Satan are assembled (1:6; 2:1) has been debated as plainly an allegory." Dr. G. Bebawi While J. Danielou, E. Renan, and H. Rowley elaborate on mystery, soul's cry, and intellectually spiritual solutions. Ehrenberg concentrates on the non compassionate theology of Job's companion Elihu! Ragaz gives an ultimate clue; God Himself is the answer. The message of the suffering servant prophetically revealed by Isaiah, was fulfilled in Jesus Christ the redeemer.(Isaiah 53:1:12) "Thus at every step in what is called, a little misleadingly, the evolution of a story, a man, all he is and all his attitudes, are involved. And no good work is done anywhere without aid from the Father of Lights. When a series of such retellings turns a creation story which at first had almost no religious or metaphysical significance into a story which achieves the idea of true Creation and of a transcendent Creator, then nothing will make me believe that some of the re-tellers, or some one of them, has not been guided by God." C. S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy (pp. 110-11)