Job an allegory

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reformedman

Puritan Board Freshman
I remember back in college, my literature 'teacher' was stating emphatically that the book of Job was all figurative language.

Today, on another forum, this came up again. I am wholeheartedly against this notion, I believe the book of Job to be an historic book of fact.

And I believe that if there is possibility for it to be possibly figurative or historic, in other words, no one is sure of which but that there is proof for the possibility of both, that I would chose to believe it to be historic unless unquestionable proof of it to be figurative.

Are there any thoughts or proofs on the figurative side, that you guys may know of? Are there any proofs of it being literally historic so I can show this aquaintance?
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
Do you mean fable or parable rather than allegory? It see it to be historical however I do not feel threatened to take it as fable or parable, it teaches what it teaches.
 

Dwimble

Puritan Board Freshman
Do you mean fable or parable rather than allegory? It see it to be historical however I do not feel threatened to take it as fable or parable, it teaches what it teaches.
I agree. I like the way you phrased that: "I do not feel threatened..." I have a similar reaction to the dogmatic six literal creation days vs. six figurative creation days debate. Sounds literal, but I'm not in any way threatened by the days being figurative. The result is the same, the gospel is the same, God is the same, and the truth is the same regardless of whether it is figurative or literally six 24 hour periods.
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
I agree. I like the way you phrased that: "I do not feel threatened..." I have a similar reaction to the dogmatic six literal creation days vs. six figurative creation days debate. Sounds literal, but I'm not in any way threatened by the days being figurative. The result is the same, the gospel is the same, God is the same, and the truth is the same regardless of whether it is figurative or literally six 24 hour periods.

Yikes brother can't believe you said that. I happen to see the days as not literal due to the structure and other incongruents if the account is taken word for word literal. But many are locked into a view that there is a inherent threat to the bible if we see some texts as "not literal". An idea can be literal without every word being literal. As for the creation account I believe God has created from nothing and rules over his creation in contrast to the other gods of other cultures who are seen as recreating and always struggling with the creation. That is the main point. Not meant be a scientific blow by blow. I have no opinion as to whether it was actually created in less or more than 6 days. This freaks some people out. I also know of scholars who see Jonah as a fable which doesn't bother me at all. Sorry if this highjacks the thread but the issue seems to be literallness of texts.
 

Contra Marcion

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems to me that God takes Job to be a literal, historical person. In Ezekiel 14:13-14, within the context of the impending destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (while, remember, Daniel was very much alive and well-known), God says this:
"Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD." - ESV, emphasis mine.

How could God refer to an obviously historical person (Daniel) alongside an allegorical one? Job was, it seems, just as real as Daniel.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Sorry if this highjacks the thread but the issue seems to be literallness of texts.

Actually, the issue is verbal trustworthiness of the Word of God. The Bible is to be interpreted literally from cover to cover. It is only by understanding the literal import of a figure of speech that the figure conveys meaning. It is only by literally interpreting a text that it can be discerned the text is employing figures of speech. There must be literal markers within the text which indicate figures and metaphors are being used. Else the intepreter has no warrant to argue for a figurative meaning to the words. In Gen 1, Job and Jonah no such markers exist. The passages make perfect sense understood literally.
 

Theoretical

Puritan Board Professor
Actually, the issue is verbal trustworthiness of the Word of God. The Bible is to be interpreted literally from cover to cover. It is only by understanding the literal import of a figure of speech that the figure conveys meaning. It is only by literally interpreting a text that it can be discerned the text is employing figures of speech. There must be literal markers within the text which indicate figures and metaphors are being used. Else the intepreter has no warrant to argue for a figurative meaning to the words. In Gen 1, Job and Jonah no such markers exist. The passages make perfect sense understood literally.

It seems to me that God takes Job to be a literal, historical person. In Ezekiel 14:13-14, within the context of the impending destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (while, remember, Daniel was very much alive and well-known), God says this:
"Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD." - ESV, emphasis mine.

How could God refer to an obviously historical person (Daniel) alongside an allegorical one? Job was, it seems, just as real as Daniel.


:ditto: If it reads like history, is written like history, and all of that, why do we constantly want to allegorize this or that? This falls into the "if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it's almost certainly a duck" category.

Oh, and as to Genesis, what ultimately turned me 6-day is that little factoid that a bodily Resurrection is also scientifically impossible and yet I thoroughly accept it as being a testimony to the Universe being an open system and not a Newtonian Closed System, and I also realized that how one analyzes the scientific evidence is extremely presuppositional in nature.
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
Actually, the issue is verbal trustworthiness of the Word of God. The Bible is to be interpreted literally from cover to cover. It is only by understanding the literal import of a figure of speech that the figure conveys meaning. It is only by literally interpreting a text that it can be discerned the text is employing figures of speech. There must be literal markers within the text which indicate figures and metaphors are being used. Else the intepreter has no warrant to argue for a figurative meaning to the words. In Gen 1, Job and Jonah no such markers exist. The passages make perfect sense understood literally.

Thats the whole point, one man's "perfect sense", "figures of speech" and "literal markers"(new concept to me) are not neccessarily another man's. This is the hermaneutic challenge, bridging the historical,cultural and occasional gap to find the author's and hearer's "perfect sense". Some see literal horses in Revelation some do not.
 

Brett McKinley

Puritan Board Freshman
Jacob's point above maintains the Biblical hermeneutic of having Scripture interpret Scripture.

Also, we must consider James 5:11 "...you have heard of the patience of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful."

And back to the book of Job, 1:1 "a man in the land of Uz" v.3 "that man was the greatest of all the men of the east." These words proclaim a historical figure, not a figurative one.
 

Sydnorphyn

Puritan Board Freshman
It seems to me that God takes Job to be a literal, historical person. In Ezekiel 14:13-14, within the context of the impending destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (while, remember, Daniel was very much alive and well-known), God says this:
"Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD." - ESV, emphasis mine.

How could God refer to an obviously historical person (Daniel) alongside an allegorical one? Job was, it seems, just as real as Daniel.

It is very possible that Daniel in Ezekiel is not the Daniel of the book of Daniel, at least many commentators see it this was. Was Ezekiel referring to the book or the character as his story was passed on orally.

Concerning Job: Consider it an illustration (parabolic if you like - which by definition means there must be something in reality for it to be compared to) of the theology of the "righteous being swept away with the wicked".

Consider the following as a possibility:
Job (who is a Gentile) is presented as faithful Israel (faithful remnant) who experiences "exile" like conditions who is restored in the end - two fold (cf. Job 42 with Isaiah 40.1-2.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Among liberal commentators that view of Daniel may be prevalent, but not orthodox, believing ones. A little further in Ezekiel, 28:3, there is a clear reference to the historical prophet, Daniel. The Lord Jesus also referred to this same person (Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14). Many unbelieving commentators have strange views of Daniel, because he, by the Spirit of God, foretold events centuries before they happened, and they don't buy that.

Quite likely Job is a Gentile (of the line of Ishmael?), yet that he is an actual person is maintained by the Lord, witness His attestation through the apostle James and prophet Ezekiel.

The enemies of the supernatural, i.e., of a God who acts within human history, oppose the accounts of His men in Scripture. Do not be taken by them.

Steve
 

2 Tim 4:2

Puritan Board Freshman
There is no real reason to not take the creation account and Job literally unless you have some issue to hang on to. Usually there is a pay off. Descriptive allegorical language in scripture is always obvious. Which isn't the case in Genesis or Job.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Unfortunately, I only have time for a quick note tonight, but I'd like to contribute more to this conversation if it continues. Job can be a problematic book for reasons that I believe are deeper than whether Job was a historical person or not. At face value, I see no reason why Job could not be a historical person, but that really isn't the point. Job is trying to teach us something about God, and it is a lesson that I find unsettling. As just a quick example, consider Job's children, who die as part of God's wager with Satan. At the end of the book, God "replaces" them with additional children as a part of Job's restoration. Such an understanding of one's children as essentially expendable seems problematic, even more so if one reads Job as a historical account.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
The Bible is to be interpreted literally from cover to cover. It is only by understanding the literal import of a figure of speech that the figure conveys meaning. It is only by literally interpreting a text that it can be discerned the text is employing figures of speech. There must be literal markers within the text which indicate figures and metaphors are being used. Else the intepreter has no warrant to argue for a figurative meaning to the words.

If more people understood this basic hermeneutical principle, Matthew, there would be more historic premils in the world. ;)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The Bible is to be interpreted literally from cover to cover. It is only by understanding the literal import of a figure of speech that the figure conveys meaning. It is only by literally interpreting a text that it can be discerned the text is employing figures of speech. There must be literal markers within the text which indicate figures and metaphors are being used. Else the intepreter has no warrant to argue for a figurative meaning to the words.

If more people understood this basic hermeneutical principle, Matthew, there would be more historic premils in the world. ;)

:) All amils are historic premils when reading the OT from the pre-incarnational perspective. :D
 

Ginny Dohms

Puritan Board Freshman
As just a quick example, consider Job's children, who die as part of God's wager with Satan. At the end of the book, God "replaces" them with additional children as a part of Job's restoration. Such an understanding of one's children as essentially expendable seems problematic, even more so if one reads Job as a historical account.

I always have been so blessed by the fact that Job 42:10 says that 'the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before" yet he only gave him the exact number of children than he had had previously; indicating that God was not replacing twofold the ones he had like he did with the cattle and camels, but simply doubling his blessing. The original children were still his, or as Matthew Henry put it - 'the children that were dead were not lost, but gone before to a better world'. So the passage is saying the exact opposite as you indicated - the children were not expendable, and they were not replaced. He was simply given an additional 10 children to double his first blessing.

And not to allow this thread to get sidetracked off the OP, I agree with the posters who showed from other passage of Scripture (Ez 14: 14, 20, James 5:11) that God referred to Job as a real man alongside all the other real men of the Bible, therefore, we have no reason to interpret it any other way than the book being an historical book of real people.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Folks, I hesitate to post my response since it really is tangential to the issue of Job's historicity. That reservation aside, I think that what we are discussing here is more central to the message of Job itself. Moderators, feel free to relocate these posts if you find that more expedient.

As prolegomena to what I am about to write, please recognize that I am no Hebrew scholar, nor do I consider my opinions about Job solidified in any way. I have simply offered a reading that I believe makes sense, although I continue to have reservations about its coherence.

I suppose that I should begin first by noting that in my reading of Job, an essential element of the reader's interaction with the story must be an elicited reaction of indignation. It seems at least plausible that the Job author(s) intended the reader to sympathize with Job's righteous suffering and to question, as Job does, the justice of God. One who fails to approach the text in this fashion, it seems to me, does not fully engage the text. That being said, my reading also affirms God's vindication of Himself, recognizing that such vindication seems to operate despite the evidence against Him (i.e. Job's suffering), not because of it. Such a reading, I think, enters into Job's suffering, experiences it fully, but continues to uphold the justice of God, although it remains beyond the understanding of the Job author(s).

Let's look at a few responses to my admittedly hasty original remarks:

God's wager? There was nothing uncertain of the outcome.

Also, I don't think God replaced the children. He simply doubled Job's seed, as he'd doubled everything else that was taken. And, if we believe that God is right, holy, good, and just in all that He does, then we wouldn't say He was treating Job's children as expendable.

And also:

I always have been so blessed by the fact that Job 42:10 says that 'the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before" yet he only gave him the exact number of children than he had had previously; indicating that God was not replacing twofold the ones he had like he did with the cattle and camels, but simply doubling his blessing. The original children were still his, or as Matthew Henry put it - 'the children that were dead were not lost, but gone before to a better world'. So the passage is saying the exact opposite as you indicated - the children were not expendable, and they were not replaced. He was simply given an additional 10 children to double his first blessing.
.

In both responses, Joshua and Ginny quibble with my terminology -- fair enough. Joshua quibbles with "wager," "replaces," and "expendable," while Ginny quibbles only with "expendable" and "replaces." What has probably happened in our conversation is that certain connotative meanings with "wager" and "expendable" have caused a miscommunication. That's bad rhetoric on my part; allow me to clarify. At the risk of even worse rhetoric, I will hazard the loss of your attention by quoting a lengthy reference from the OED, with abridged examples:

[a. AF. wageure (= F. gageure), f. wager WAGE

I. 1. A solemn pledge or undertaking. Obs.

1306 Exec. Sir S. Fraser in Pol. Songs (1839) 218 A wajour he made, so hit wes y-told, Ys heved of to smhyte ef me him brohte in hold wat so bytyde.
2. Something (esp. a sum of money) laid down and hazarded on the issue of an uncertain event; a stake. Now rare exc. in phr. to lay, win, lose a wager.
1596 SHAKES. Tam. Shr. V. ii. 69 Hort. Content, what's the wager?
b. The prize to be won in a contest. Obs.

c1450 Brut ccxliv. 378 For our archers..schet at day for a wager.
fig. a1548 HALL Chron., Hen. VI, 167 For Kyng Henry..and Richard duke of Yorke..wresteled for the game, and strove for the wager.
3. An agreement or contract under which each of the parties promises to give money or its equivalent to the other according to the issue of an uncertain event; a betting transaction.

a1548 HALL Chron., Hen. VIII. 7 Certayn noble men made a wager to runne at the rynge. 1876 ROGERS Pol. Econ. i. 9 If one man makes a wager with another, the occurrence of the event on which the wager depends, does involve loss and gain.
b. an equal, even wager, an even chance. Obs.

c. to lie upon the wager: to be at stake. Obs.

1590 SPENSER F.Q. I. iii. 12 Full fast she fled, ne euer lookt behind, As if her life vpon the wager lay.
d. An act of putting to hazard, a risk.

1855 MACAULAY Hist. Eng. xviii. IV. 220 Nothing could be more natural than that, for the very smallest chance of recovering the three kingdoms..he should be willing to stake what was not his own, the honour of the French arms..[etc.]. To a French statesman such a wager might well appear in a different light.
e. A contest for a prize.

1615 MARKHAM Country Contentm. I. vii. 102 If you will prepare him [a greyhound] for match and wadger.
4. Something on the issue of which bets are or may be laid; the subject of a bet or bets.

a1586 SIDNEY Arcadia II. vii. (1912) 193 Their ruine was the wager of the others contention.
II. 5. Law (now Hist.). The action of WAGE v. (4a, b). a. wager of law: an offer to make oath of innocence or non-indebtedness, to be supported by the oaths of eleven compurgators. b. wager of battle: a challenge by a defendant to decide his guilt or innocence by single combat.

a. 1521-2 Ir. Act 13 Hen. VIII, c. 2 (1621) 73 The partie or parties defendants shall haue none essoine, protection, ne law wager. 1533 MORE Debell. Salem II. xv. 33 Lyke as in the wageour of a lawe, they shall not swere that the defendaunt oweth not the money, but that they byleue that he swereth treuth. 1536 Ir. Act 28 Hen. VIII, c. 5 (1621) 102 Wherein no wager of law, essoine ne protection shall lye.

III. 6. attrib. and Comb., in sense ‘done for a wager’, as wager-fight, -shooting, -smoking; also wager-boat, a light racing sculling-boat used in contests between single scullers; wager-cup, a ‘cup’ offered as a prize in a contest; wager-hall, ? the hall of the imaginary guild of betting men; wager-insurance = wager-policy; wager-office, a place for recording wagers; wager-policy, an insurance-policy partaking of the nature of a wager.

1844 ALB. SMITH Adv. Mr. Ledbury ix. (1886) 29 [He] began talking about the sweet wager-boat which his friend..had bought at Searle's. 1865 DICKENS Mut. Fr. IV. i, It was an amateur sculler..in so light a boat that the Rogue remarked: ‘A little less on you, and you'd a'most ha' been a Wagerbut.

Right away, we can certainly eliminate definitions 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 3d, 3e, and 4 on the grounds of Joshua's objection. Money was not at stake between God and Satan, nor was there "chance" of the sort that exists in horse-racing. In other words, there was no "bet" between God and Satan. We are then left with definitions 1, 3c, 5a, 5b, and, if qualified, 6. My reading of Job, then, understands God's "wager" with Satan as His defense of His own worthiness to be worshipped. This is what lies at stake in Job's response to the affliction of Satan. Will he continue to worship, despite injustice?

Now let's take a look at "expendable," again from the OED:

Also expendible. [f. prec. + -ABLE.] That may be expended; considered as not worth preserving or salvaging; normally consumed in use; spec. of military personnel: that may be allowed to be sacrificed to achieve a military objective. Hence as n., an expendable person or object.

1805 W. TAYLOR in Ann. Rev. III. 240 That property should be dividable, transferrable, and expendable. 1942 W. L. WHITE They were Expendable 7 In a war anything can be expendable money or gasoline or equipment or most usually men. 1942 Reader's Digest Oct. 40/1 They would be considered in part as expendable ammunition much as the Navy considers its PT boats. 1942 Topeka Jrnl. 9 Nov. 4/4 When an army is retreating, a small force is left behind to cover the retreat and be sacrificed to the enemy. They are ‘expendables’. 1956 A. TOYNBEE Historian's Approach to Religion xix. 266 The true purpose of an institution is simply to serve as a means for promoting the welfare of human beings. In truth it is not sacrosanct but is ‘expendible’. 1966 D. HOLBROOK Flesh Wounds 81 We're expendable, see, so you want to watch out. 1966 Aviation Week & Space Technol. 5 Dec. 22/2 With five years of supplies and all the expendables, including a crew.

However unsettling the connotations of "expendable" may be, I think the definition fits. The pedagogical objective of Job's suffering into truth and God's vindication of His worthiness to be worshipped both seem to allow the sacrifice of Job's children. They are consumed in God's use. They are considered not worth preserving or salvaging. As for the hope of resurrection, it may be worth considering whether we can derive such a notion from Job, and whether there is evidence that Job himself had any notion of it. Such an investigation is outside my discipline, but Job 14 seems to be an indication:

14:1 “Man who is born of a woman
is few of days and full of trouble.
2 He comes out like a flower and withers;
he flees like a shadow and continues not.
3 And do you open your eyes on such a one
and bring me into judgment with you?
4 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?
There is not one.
5 Since his days are determined,
and the number of his months is with you,
and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass,
6 look away from him and leave him alone, [1]
that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day.

7 “For there is hope for a tree,
if it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
and that its shoots will not cease.
8 Though its root grow old in the earth,
and its stump die in the soil,
9 yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put out branches like a young plant.
10 But a man dies and is laid low;
man breathes his last, and where is he?

11 As waters fail from a lake
and a river wastes away and dries up,
12 so a man lies down and rises not again;
till the heavens are no more he will not awake
or be roused out of his sleep.
13 Oh that you would hide me in Sheol,
that you would conceal me until your wrath be past,
that you would appoint me a set time, and remember me!
14 If a man dies, shall he live again?
All the days of my service I would wait,
till my renewal [2] should come.
15 You would call, and I would answer you;
you would long for the work of your hands.
16 For then you would number my steps;
you would not keep watch over my sin;
17 my transgression would be sealed up in a bag,
and you would cover over my iniquity.

18 “But the mountain falls and crumbles away,
and the rock is removed from its place;
19 the waters wear away the stones;
the torrents wash away the soil of the earth;
so you destroy the hope of man.
20 You prevail forever against him, and he passes;
you change his countenance, and send him away.
21 His sons come to honor, and he does not know it;
they are brought low, and he perceives it not.
22 He feels only the pain of his own body,
and he mourns only for himself."

Footnotes
[1] 14:6 Probable reading; Hebrew look away from him, that he may cease
[2] 14:14 Or relief

As for my use of "replaced," I am happy to accept your qualification without even consulting the dictionary. God does indeed provide Job with the exact number of children he had lost, not double as with his property. As Christians, we salve the trauma of our reading Job with our understanding of the resurrection. The question remains, however, whether we can gain such perspective from Job itself, and further, whether Job himself benefited from such consolation.

I conclude with the words of Daniel Russ, whose essay on Job I highly recommend:

Like Lazarus being raised from the dead, Job's restoration is a mixed blessing, for he cannot know that he will not lose everything again. He must live the rest of his live, one hundred and forty years, knowing what it is to lose everything. Yes, he knows as never before that he can trust God, even if God kills him. But he also knows that the love of God does not preclude untold suffering. Perhaps the final mystery is that the love of God is both the source and the abyss into which Job fell in his affliction.

"Job and the Tragedy of Divine Love" in The Epic Cosmos
 
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Ginny Dohms

Puritan Board Freshman
Just a few comments to your post:

As for the hope of resurrection, it may be worth considering whether we can derive such a notion from Job, and whether there is evidence that Job himself had any notion of it. Such an investigation is outside my discipline, but Job 14 seems to be an indication: [/I]

I think Job 19:25-27 is clear about what Job understood in regard to the resurrection:

"For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."

The pedagogical objective of Job's suffering into truth and God's vindication of His worthiness to be worshipped both seem to allow the sacrifice of Job's children. They are consumed in God's use. They are considered not worth preserving or salvaging.[/I]

I think you are placing far too much emphasis on the physical aspect of our life, rather than the eternal. Physical death is not a curse, nor a punishment for the children of God, but rather a blessing. God was ultimately, and immediately, preserving Job's children for all eternity, by removing them from this temporal earth. Read how our reformed forefathers viewed death. If we were to see it thus, we would realize that death for Job's first 10 children was not a discarding of their lives as things unworthy of salvaging, but a blessing, and a reward

In 1665, Thomas Brooks wrote

"Our life in this world is made up . . .
of troubles and trials,
of calamities and miseries,
of crosses and losses,
of reproaches and disgraces.

Death frees the Christian from all these things.
It wipes away all tears from his eyes, it turns . . .
his miseries into mercies,
his crosses into crowns, and
his earthly hell into a glorious heaven!
When a godly man dies--he shall never more
be haunted, tempted and buffeted by Satan!

"Death," says one, "which was before the devil's
sergeant to drag us to hell; has now become the
Lord's gentle usher to conduct us to heaven!"

For a saint to die, is for a saint to be eternally happy.
Death is but the entrance into glorious life. That is not
death but life--which joins the dying man to Christ!
Death will blow the bud of grace into the flower of
glory!

Death is not the death of the man--but the death of
his sin. When a believer dies--his sin dies with him.
As death came in by sin--so sin goes out by death.
Death kills sin--which bred it.....

Death does for a godly person, that which all ordinances
could never do, and which all their duties could never do,
and which all their graces could never do. It immediately
frees them from . . .
all their sins,
all their sorrows,
all their tears,
all their temptations,
all their oppressions,
all their oppositions,
all their vexations!"
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm afraid I must disagree with Ginny's statement:

I think Job 19:25-27 is clear about what Job understood in regard to the resurrection:

Even if one grants that the poem clearly points to a resurrection, which I am not prepared to grant, the passage is hardly conclusive regarding Job's understanding of the afterlife. At best, the passage could only qualify Job's words in chapter 14.

But my reading understands Job's statements as a demand for justice in this life. Let's consider chapter 19 again, this time the full chapter:

1 Then Job answered and said:

2 “How long will you torment me
and break me in pieces with words?
3 These ten times you have cast reproach upon me;
are you not ashamed to wrong me?
4 And even if it be true that I have erred,
my error remains with myself.
5 If indeed you magnify yourselves against me
and make my disgrace an argument against me,
6 know then that God has put me in the wrong
and closed his net about me.
7 Behold, I cry out, ‘Violence!’ but I am not answered;
I call for help, but there is no justice.
8 He has walled up my way, so that I cannot pass,
and he has set darkness upon my paths.
9 He has stripped from me my glory
and taken the crown from my head.
10 He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone,
and my hope has he pulled up like a tree.
11 He has kindled his wrath against me
and counts me as his adversary.
12 His troops come on together;
they have cast up their siege ramp [1] against me
and encamp around my tent.

13 “He has put my brothers far from me,
and those who knew me are wholly estranged from me.
14 My relatives have failed me,
my close friends have forgotten me.
15 The guests in my house and my maidservants count me as a stranger;
I have become a foreigner in their eyes.
16 I call to my servant, but he gives me no answer;
I must plead with him with my mouth for mercy.
17 My breath is strange to my wife,
and I am a stench to the children of my own mother.
18 Even young children despise me;
when I rise they talk against me.
19 All my intimate friends abhor me,
and those whom I loved have turned against me.
20 My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh,
and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth.
21 Have mercy on me, have mercy on me, O you my friends,
for the hand of God has touched me!
22 Why do you, like God, pursue me?
Why are you not satisfied with my flesh?

23 “Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
24 Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth. [2]

26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in [3] my flesh I shall see God,
27 whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

28 If you say, ‘How we will pursue him!’
and, ‘The root of the matter is found in him,’
29 be afraid of the sword,
for wrath brings the punishment of the sword,
that you may know there is a judgment.”

Footnotes
[1] 19:12 Hebrew their way
[2] 19:25 Hebrew dust
[3] 19:26 Or without

It seems at least plausible that the two highlighted passages represent different directions of thought for Job. In the first, Job wishes that a record of God's injustice be kept so that even when he dies, his reputation might be upheld by a coming redeemer. I see no reason why Job should have had Christ in mind when he made such a statement, nor why he would not have been imagining that he could convince one of his friends to take on the task. In the second, Job wishes to contend with God in the flesh, despite the destruction of his flesh -- meaning sores from 2:7-8, not a death-and-resurrection. Another key contextual point is that Job wishes to see God in order to bring charges against Him. But again, even if one disagrees with my reading of the above passages, and interprets them instead as a hope for resurrection, such an interpretation must stand alongside what I think is overwhelming evidence from the rest of Job.

I'm afraid I must also quibble over Ginny's citation of Thomas Brooks. The 1665 piece does, indeed, demonstrate that Thomas Brooks believed in the resurrection, and may well serve to indicate that Christianity in the 17th century held a firm belief in the afterlife. This is all well and good, but it would be anachronistic to say that any of it has significance for Job, who, of course, knew nothing of Thomas Brooks.

For example, consider the verses (in addition to those from my previous post in Chapter 14) found from my own casual perusal of Job, which is certainly not authoritative or scholarly in any way:

"As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up." 7:9

"Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good." 7:7

"I loathe my life; I would not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are a breath." 7:16


So now I hope that readers will understand why I find Job so disturbing, and why I think we do ourselves a disservice when we neither recognize the full extent of Job's suffering nor sympathize with his complaint against God. To the extent that we engage in such readings, we rob Job of its power and importance.
 

Ginny Dohms

Puritan Board Freshman
I'm afraid I must disagree with Ginny's statement:

I think Job 19:25-27 is clear about what Job understood in regard to the resurrection:

This is not only my statement but the statements of our reformed forefathers, too. Read what some of them said regarding this passage:

The Westminster Annotation and Commentary on the Whole Bible written by some of the Westminster Divines and other Puritans says in Vol 2 on Job 19:25:

'For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: I have appealed to men present and to come: but if they should all prove corrupt, and take your part against me, yet I know there is a general judgment to come in which I shall be cleared. He sets out the doctrine of the Resurrection largely 1. By the excellent qualities of his Saviour and Judge, that He is living and shall abide, when others are in the dust, and shall be the Judge in the last and solemn judgment, in this verse. 2. From the effects of death, which brings a man very low, and consumes his skin, and pierces through his flesh, yet Christ will raise him again, v 16. 3. From the effects of the Resurrection, which will restore his own flesh to him again, and those eyes he now hath, to look on Christ at the last day, though for a time he lie in the grave, as one swallowed up by death, v 27.. The sum of this verse is as if he had said, "Lest haply ye imagine that because I have no hope of this life, that therefore I have none of the life to come neither; I tell you that I know that he by whom I shall be redeeemed is immortal, who as he was before this dust, as being the creator of it, so shall he not be dissolved with it, but remain after it is dissolved, and brought to nothing.'....

Jamison, Fausset and Brown says of this passage:

25. redeemer--UMBREIT and others understand this and Job 19:26, of God appearing as Job's avenger before his death, when his body would be wasted to a skeleton. But Job uniformly despairs of restoration and vindication of his cause in this life (Job 17:15, 16). One hope alone was left, which the Spirit revealed--a vindication in a future life: it would be no full vindication if his soul alone were to be happy without the body, as some explain (Job 19:26) "out of the flesh." It was his body that had chiefly suffered: the resurrection of his body, therefore, alone could vindicate his cause: to see God with his own eyes, and in a renovated body (Job 19:27), would disprove the imputation of guilt cast on him because of the sufferings of his present body. That this truth is not further dwelt on by Job, or noticed by his friends, only shows that it was with him a bright passing glimpse of Old Testament hope, rather than the steady light of Gospel assurance; with us this passage has a definite clearness, which it had not in his mind (see on Job 21:30). The idea in "redeemer" with Job is Vindicator (Job 16:19; Nu 35:27), redressing his wrongs; also including at least with us, and probably with him, the idea of the predicted Bruiser of the serpent's head. Tradition would inform him of the prediction. FOSTER shows that the fall by the serpent is represented perfectly on the temple of Osiris at Philæ; and the resurrection on the tomb of the Egyptian Mycerinus, dating four thousand years back. Job's sacrifices imply sense of sin and need of atonement. Satan was the injurer of Job's body; Jesus Christ his Vindicator, the Living One who giveth life (Joh 5:21, 26).

Matthew Henry says:

In all the conferences between Job and his friends we do not find any more weighty and considerable lines than these; would one have expected it? Here is much both of Christ and heaven in these verses: and he that said such things as these declared plainly that he sought the better country, that is, the heavenly; as the patriarchs of that age did, Heb. xi. 14. We have here Job's creed, or confession of faith. His belief in God the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth, and the principles of natural religion, he had often professed: but here we find him no stranger to revealed religion; though the revelation of the promised Seed, and the promised inheritance, was then discerned only like the dawning of the day, yet Job was taught of God to believe in a living Redeemer, and to look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come, for of these, doubtless, he must be understood to speak. These were the things he comforted himself with the expectation of, and not a deliverance from his trouble or a revival of his happiness in this world, as some would understand him; for besides that the expressions he here uses, of the Redeemer's standing at the latter day upon the earth, of his seeing God, and seeing him for himself, are wretchedly forced if they be understood of any temporal deliverance, it is very plain that he had no expectation at all of his return to a prosperous condition in this world. He had just now said that his way was fenced up, (v. 8) and his hope removed like a tree, v. 10. Nay, and after this he expressed his despair of any comfort in this life, ch. xxiii. 8, 9; xxx. 23. So that we must necessarily understand him of the redemption of his soul from the power of the grave, and his reception to glory, which is spoken of, Ps. xlix. 15. We have reason to think that Job was just now under an extraordinary impulse of the blessed Spirit, which raised him above himself, gave him light, and gave him utterance, even to his own surprise. And some observe that, after this, we do not find Job's discourses such passionate, peevish, unbecoming, complaints of God and his providence as we have before met with: this hope quieted his spirit, stilled the storm and, having here cast anchor within the veil, his mind was kept steady from this time forward......

(To read more from Matthew Henry's lengthy commentary on this passage go to..... http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc3.Job.xx.html)

And I could provide more, but will leave the commentaries at that, as you can look them up and read them for yourself if you are interested....

"I'm afraid I must also quibble over Ginny's citation of Thomas Brooks. The 1665 piece does, indeed, demonstrate that Thomas Brooks believed in the resurrection, and may well serve to indicate that Christianity in the 17th century held a firm belief in the afterlife. This is all well and good, but it would be anachronistic to say that any of it has significance for Job, who, of course, knew nothing of Thomas Brooks.

I did not include Thomas Brooks' quote to prove anything about Job's view of death, but to to try to show to 'you' that death is not the casting away of that which God deems to be unworthy of salvaging or preserving. In the case of the martyrs who have died for the cause of Christ in the past generations; do you think they were considered unworthy of preserving as to the reason God allowed them to be taken, or was it a glorious way of transferring them from this temporal life, directly into His presence? Was it a blessing, or a punishment? My Mom passed away in June, and I have spent much time contemplating death and the afterlife this summer, and I cannot see death in any way less than an ushering into the presence of God out of this sinfully corrupted world in which we live. As saddened as I am of losing her presence with me on earth, I rejoice that she is now free from all the trials and pains of this life, and is reunited with all her family that has gone on before, but most importantly with her Lord where she is rejoicing uninhibited around the throne of her God and Saviour. Death to me has no sting, but to me is a gain, as Paul spoke of in Philippians:

Php 1:21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

I just felt your terms of 'unsalvagable', and 'unworthy of preserving' in regards to the death of Job's children to being offensive when speaking of the those whom God has chosen to take to be with him, rather than allow to remain on earth. I think your view of Job would change if you did not see death as a punishment and a curse, but rather as a mercy, and a blessing. That is the reason I included Thomas Brooks' quote in my previous email, not for any relation to Job per se.

"So now I hope that readers will understand why I find Job so disturbing, and why I think we do ourselves a disservice when we neither recognize the full extent of Job's suffering nor sympathize with his complaint against God. To the extent that we engage in such readings, we rob Job of its power and importance.

Forgive me if I have come across as indicating that I believe Job's sufferings were not of some of the highest level known to man. It is for this reason that I believe his trials and his patience has been spoken of through all the generations since his time. However, having said that, I do not believe that Job was left without a hope of a resurrection, of a vindication of his sufferings, nor do I believe that he continued his complaint against God once God spoke with Him and put everything into perspective for him. We would do well to follow the example of Job, and learn to sit in the presence of God when we face dire trials and temptations rather than railing at the providences that He has dealt upon us - and I am speaking to myself here more than to anyone else.

Job 42:1-6 1 ¶ Then Job answered the LORD, and said, I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Job had stopped complaining and was no longer pleading that his afflictions were too hard to bear. He was repenting, and abhoring himself for his attitude. I believe we have to take the entire book in context and read the progress of where Job started at, and where he ended, not just single out the middle parts where he complains against the trials that were exceedingly hard to bear.

We would do well to put our hands over our mouth as Job did in ch 40:

1 ¶ Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, 2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. 3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said, 4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. 5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.

May God give us grace to learn the exceedingly hard, and painful, yet valuable lessons that are in the book of Job for our edification.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Ginny,

Let me begin by expressing my sincere condolences regarding the death of your Mother, and by assuring you that we stand in solidarity regarding her fate and the fate of all Christians. Surely as you quoted the apostle's eloquent assertion, "To live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Regarding Job, however, I hope you will allow me a brief explanation. It is precisely the hope of resurrection, which we have, that I think Job did not have. At the very least, I do not see abundant evidence of such hope in Job. To find such hope for Job in Job requires specious hermeneutical tactics, which read resurrection figures into the text. Perhaps such language is present typologically, but I doubt that Job had any awareness of this. This, I think, is where our readings differ, and I am prepared to let the difference lie precisely there.

As for the citations of "reformed forefathers," I respectfully disagree with much of what they have to say regarding Job 19:25 on the grounds that their readings engage in the kind of typological anachronisms spoken about above. I was surprised, though, to find in your citation from Jamison, Fausset, and Brown the very thing that I have been discussing, namely Job's ignorance of the resurrection:

That this truth is not further dwelt on by Job, or noticed by his friends, only shows that it was with him a bright passing glimpse of Old Testament hope, rather than the steady light of Gospel assurance; with us this passage has a definite clearness, which it had not in his mind (see on Job 21:30).
 

Ginny Dohms

Puritan Board Freshman
Ginny,

Let me begin by expressing my sincere condolences regarding the death of your Mother, and by assuring you that we stand in solidarity regarding her fate and the fate of all Christians. Surely as you quoted the apostle's eloquent assertion, "To live is Christ, and to die is gain."

Thank you very much. I appreciate your words of condolences.

As for the citations of "reformed forefathers," I respectfully disagree with much of what they have to say regarding Job 19:25 on the grounds that their readings engage in the kind of typological anachronisms spoken about above. I was surprised, though, to find in your citation from Jamison, Fausset, and Brown the very thing that I have been discussing, namely Job's ignorance of the resurrection:

I think all would agree that Job did not have a 'full' and 'detailed' understanding of who this Redeemer was, and what the resurrection would entail, but Jamison, Fausset and Brown refers to it as a 'bright passing glimpse', not a complete 'ignorance of the resurrection'. Job 19:25, in my opinion embraces his confession of faith and it was a source of encouragement and hope for him, even if it was not one he could see in all its fullness. I see it as similar to what Isaiah wrote of in Is 53. Did he fully understand what he wrote when he spoke of the suffering of our Lord, or was he given a prophetic glimpse into our Redeemer's sacrifice? Just a thought.

However, I tend to think we have reached an impasse in coming to an agreement on this, so I will bow out of the discussion and let you carry on with the others here, though I have enjoyed our discussion.

Take care....
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
When I was reading the book of Job around a year or so ago it also appeared to me that Job didn't seem to know much if anything about an afterlife, which is something I hadn't noticed before. I thought that if anything, the passage about having a Redeemer after death at least showed that he knew something. But when I got to it I read it differently which at the time seemed to make more sense in the book as a whole. Maybe I'm completely off, but here's how I read it:

We are told at the beginning that God allowed Job's skin to be destroyed, but that his life must be spared. Job is experiencing this even though his interpretation of it is a bit off:

"God has put me in the wrong... there is no justice.... He has kindled his wrath against me and counts me as his adversary... My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth."

What is he talking about above? The fact that God is destroying his flesh. The very thing God allowed to happen at the beginning of the book. And Job is experiencing what Satan demanded: "Skin for skin!" Yet Job's life has barely been spared: "I have escaped." Which is in fulfillment of what God also said to at the beginning of the book: "Spare his life." So then Job, right after speaking about his body being destroyed but being spared his life, says this:

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another."

In the context of the greater story, and in light of what he says a few verses previously, doesn't it seem life Job is saying that though his skin is being destroyed, a Redeemer will ransom him from God's hand before he dies? There's more: Look at Elihu's response below as he describes a "hypothetical" man. How does he seem to interpret what Job says above?

"His flesh is so wasted away that it cannot be seen, and his bones that were not seen stick out. His soul draws near the pit, and his life to those who bring death. If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him, and he is merciful to him, and says [to God], ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom; let his flesh become fresh with youth; let him return to the days of his youthful vigor’; then man prays to God, and he accepts him... He sings before men and says: '...He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light.’"
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, I think that your reading of Job 19:25 is definitely plausible, perhaps the most plausible reading available. At most, the passage only offers a vague understanding of afterlife, and must be read in conversation with the rest of the book.

Two follow-up questions for anyone to answer:

1) Does anyone have any textual evidence from the original language to validate either claim for 19:25?

2) Given my fairly bleak reading of Job, what is its function in the biblical canon?
 

caddy

Puritan Board Senior
^

Similiar is Ecclesiastes. Correct me if I'm wrong, but there are no allusions to the afterlife here either. Only book in the Bible in which God is totally silent. Some say it is the Bible's most powerfully concentrated expression of what Christ is: A Christ shaped vaccum.

Nothing more meaningless than an answer without its question.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Steven, I'm not quite sure what you mean. Could you please clarify? I am particularly puzzled by:

Some say it is the Bible's most powerfully concentrated expression of what Christ is: A Christ shaped vaccum.

and

Nothing more meaningless than an answer without its question.
 

Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Unfortunately, I only have time for a quick note tonight, but I'd like to contribute more to this conversation if it continues. Job can be a problematic book for reasons that I believe are deeper than whether Job was a historical person or not. At face value, I see no reason why Job could not be a historical person, but that really isn't the point. Job is trying to teach us something about God, and it is a lesson that I find unsettling. As just a quick example, consider Job's children, who die as part of God's wager with Satan. At the end of the book, God "replaces" them with additional children as a part of Job's restoration. Such an understanding of one's children as essentially expendable seems problematic, even more so if one reads Job as a historical account.
I don't want to be harsh friend, but this needs to be exposed. God did not "wager" anything. God used Satan, His lackey, to accomplish His purposes. And we're all expendable - counted as sheep for the slaughter. Anything other than immediate death and eternal damnation is grace. To judge God based on such limited understanding of depravity is arrogant at best.
This is incredibly dangerous ground. It matters not whether someone finds it "unsettling" or not. I find it unsettling that men will endure God's wrath in hell for eternity, yet it's a fact we must face. Man has no place judging God's Word. Either we accept it to be what it claims, and to say what it says, or we pack up and search for truth elsewhere. Once we sit in judgment over it to this level we have no basis on which to declare anything truth. And be careful to note that Joshua and Ginny are not "quibbling." They are standing up for the veracity of God's Word.
Regarding further comments - Job's Author is ultimately God.
Russ' comments are incredibly shallow and pessimistic. To live is Christ.
Ginny's referent to Job's confidence in the resurrection was right on, and showed a clear example of the hermeneutical principle of letting God's Word speak.
Job deals with suffering in light of God's sovereignty. 1 Corinthians 10:13 immediately comes to mind, because we can know that our circumstances, though they have unique nuances, are not unique to us, but common to man. And God has provided for us so that we can grow through our circumstances, regardless of the straights we find ourselves in. Furthermore, Job reveals the folly of man defending himself against God and attempting to sit in judgment over God. What foolishness it is for the pot to judge the potter!
Spend some time meditating on Job, read 2 Cor 1, 1 and 2 Peter and do a thorough study of suffering in the NT and you'll come away with a new appreciation for Job and suffering in general. In addition to that, live for a while. As you grow older God will show you more and more what suffering is about, and Job will become more real to you with each passing year.

If more people understood this basic hermeneutical principle, Matthew, there would be more historic premils in the world. ;)
I love this statement!
 

caddy

Puritan Board Senior
God is silent in Ecclesiastes. Christ is nowhere alluded to. Unlike all the other books of the Bible, it has no faith flashbulb attached to its camera to reveal the inner depths or hidden meanings of life. It uses only the available light under the sun.

I think we would agree that there is nothing more meaningless than an answer without it's question. That is why we need Ecclesiastes. The ulitmate questions like--why are we here, what is the meaning of life, where are we from, where are we going--bring us pause as they should from reading this book. Now, we have all the answers in Christ, but in Ecclesiastes all we can know is that all is vanity. The author appeals to no divine revelation, only to natural human reason and sense observation.

Referring back to Job, because God speaks, Job has everything even though he has nothing--just like us. Because God is silent, the "Pundit" of Ecclesiastes has nothing even though he has everything.

In God's providence he has arranged for this one book of mere rational philosophy to be included in the canon of scripture. It too is divine revelation. In this book God reveals to us exactly what life is when God does not reveal to us what life is.

Does that make sense? Maybe I'm just blowing in the wind here myself. :um:


Steven, I'm not quite sure what you mean. Could you please clarify? I am particularly puzzled by:

Some say it is the Bible's most powerfully concentrated expression of what Christ is: A Christ shaped vaccum.

and

Nothing more meaningless than an answer without its question.
 
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