The Book of Job
First of all, let me get something straight– I don’t like the Book of Job. There are a couple reasons for this. First of all, opinions on Job are as common as cars on the road. Everyone has one. Second, I don’t like the content of the book. God making bets with Satan about what someone will and won’t be willing to do when pushed to the brink is unsettling.
I have had to spend a lot of time in Job recently. I had to teach a section of it in my Wednesday night class at church. I re-watched the South Park episode about Job called “Cartmanland.” I also recently upon recommendation from Dylan, watched the movie “A Serious Man” which is a modern rendition of the book by the Cohen Brothers.
I still don’t like it. Here are a few thoughts on Job that I have collected over the weeks with the book of Job.
-C.S. Lewis, when writing about Satan, says that there isn’t a Satan that is an equal and opposite force against God. There is no equal against God. God is in charge and over all things. Satan is at best on the level of an angel. Powerful, but so far under God.
– Liberation Theologians use the Book of Job as an allegory for a struggle of the weak, often oppressed nations. Job is the downtrodden people who trampled by greater powers than themselves (Satan) his friends and his wife are colonial powers who are only there to give poor advise to enslave him even more.
– Some people think that Job is about being patient.
– Some people think that Job is about our place in the universe and how we relate to God and to others in the cosmic order.
– In The History of God, Karen Armstrong suggests that Job was written when the Israelites left Babylon. There, they would have come into contact with Babylonian myths about God punishing people. She suggests that Job is only a Jewish adaptation of much older stories. She remarks that the book of Job is the first Jewish writing that doesn’t only state the actions of God, but begins to ask why God does the things that he does.
– In class we discussed that Job might not be a lesson for people at all. But the whole point of what happens in Job is teaching Satan a lesson.
– The point is that Job made the Bible. It was God guided into the pages of the book for some reason. God decided that it was important for something, and the book is there to help us find what is important. Perhaps it is there because God wants us to think about suffering. Perhaps it is there as a non-example: Don’t question God in your times of struggle, Don’t offer empty words to the suffering, Don’t give up.
Like it or not, enjoy it or not, it is there for a reason. And though I don’t like it. I am beginning to appreciate its place in the Bible.