Job an allegory

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weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Joe, thanks for your response. Hopefully we can engage in a fruitful dialogue here that will exhibit both Christian charity and strident faithfulness to the text. In other words, I appreciate your willingness to refute my argument, and look forward to a friendly sparring session with you here. ;)

That said, our basic disagreement seems to center upon two issues: 1) Joe asserts humanity's basic expendability, meaning that the deaths of Job's children were nothing out of the ordinary. Alternatively, I assert humanity's basic worth as the reason why the deaths of Job's children strike me as so disturbing. Humans, I believe, should not be treated as if they are expendable. 2) Joe seeks to contextualize Job by incorporating passages from the New Testament into his interpretation. On the other hand, I seek after Job's reading of Job. As I have stated before, reading the New Testament into Job appears to be a problematic hermeneutical principle. How would Job have known of these interpretations?

All other stated disagreements, to me at least, seem ancillary and distract from these main issues. Allow me now to interact with one of Joe's statements:

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.

I hope Joe will expand upon this statement. It seems evident from it that he believes Job 19:25 mandates Job's confidence of a resurrection with such clarity that alternate readings do not allow God's Word to speak. I welcome textual evidence from Job that speaks with Joe's degree of certainty, especially evidence from the original language.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
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.

Sorry, Steven, I must be dense. I think you may be pointing to the difference between general and special revelation, but I'm not sure where you are going with it in reference to Ecclesiastes and Job.
 

caddy

Puritan Board Senior
...and I'm not sure how to be any clearer, so I'll leave it at that. ;)

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:



and

Sorry, Steven, I must be dense. I think you may be pointing to the difference between general and special revelation, but I'm not sure where you are going with it in reference to Ecclesiastes and Job.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Posted by Paul Weinhold:

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.

Can there be a deeper issue than the reality of Job as an actual person? Otherwise we are but talking of interpreting a mere moral tale. Yet Paul is right in that this [true] tale is problematic and has profound depth.

William Henry Green, in his little volume, Conflict and Triumph: The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded, has an appendix, “The Doctrine of Immortality in the Old Testament”. There are other studies on this topic, but as this is close to hand I am gleaning from it (sometimes verbatim) to make some points, one of them being the repository of faith Job had access to.

In the Garden obedience was to be rewarded with life and disobedience with death, and after the Fall there was a promise of redemption from the damage of the Fall. In the “proto-evangelion” a Redeemer was promised.

That there would be a life after death – or apart from death – was made clear by the translation of Enoch (and later, Elijah). The expressions, “gathered to his people” (Gen 25:8) and “gathered to their fathers” (Judg 2:10), refer to other than burial, rather their joining those who had gone before them, in the world of spirits.

The promises given to Abraham and Jacob, “For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever” (Gen 13:15; 35:12), “This pledged to them a personal share in the actual possession of that land, or at least of what was typified and represented by it. They as well as their seed, have the assurance of a part in the ultimate accomplishment; so that the representation made in Hebrews 11:13-16, of the faith of the patriarchs, is amply sustained.

“When further the LORD calls Himself (Exod 3:6) ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’, this establishes or recognizes a relation, which, as our Saviour expounds (Matt 22:32), and as all must have felt, could not be limited to this life, but must have spread itself over the entire future of their being.” (Conflict and Triumph, pp. 174, 175)

Let me lastly aver the pre-Christian faith of Daniel, where he says in 12:2,3: “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” True, this was perhaps a millennium after Job’s life, but it was still part of the repository of the OT saints’ faith, and did not commence with Daniel.

Who was Job? Tony Maalouf, in his, Arabs in the Shadow of Israel: The Unfolding of God’s Prophetic Plan for Ishmael’s Line, makes a good case for Job arising from the line of Ishmael during the period the Israelites were in Egypt. His chapter 6, “Job, Son of the Arabian Desert”, presents a well-documented hypothesis. Job knows the God of Abraham, but evidently not the Law of Moses. Where else in the world, save in the line of Jacob, was there knowledge of God? The one exception would be Ishmael, who spent his youth in the love and instruction of his father, Abraham. And I believe in Gen 16 and 21, it is clear his mother, Hagar, met the LORD.

Note, please, that all this pertains to the historicity of Job in the context of the faith of God’s people.

Strangely, Paul, commentator Francis Anderson, in his Job commentary in the Tyndale OT series, sees in Job 14:13-17, a prelude of hope which finds a fuller expression in 19:23-27:

What Job said [earlier] is carried further here. Even if God kills him (before his vindication?) he will wait in hope. His readiness to go down into death in faith transforms his ideas of Sheol from those expressed in chapter 3, in 7:6-10, and in 10:20-22. It is now seen as a temporary hiding-place (13), answering the plea of 13:20….Even if silent now, God will be heard then (15a), answering the prayer of 13:22 (using exactly the same words). The basis of Job’s expectation is a belief that God will long for the work of his hands (15b), because of the point already made in 10:8-13. The scrutiny of God, which seemed sinister in 13:27, sounds kindly as God now keeps an eye on Job in Sheol (16). Best of all, Job’s troublesome sins will be disposed of once for all (17). The imagery of the last verse is elusive, but Pope has written a lengthy note (pp. 109f.) connecting verse 17a with ancient methods of accounting. Even if God has a full tally of Job’s “rebellions” (collective or plural should be read for RSV transgression), the tenderness of God’s attitude makes it difficult to believe that they will be produced later to harm Job. The idea that the sins are sealed up to hide them, rather than to keep them for a time of reckoning, is supported by the parallelism of verse 17b. God will cover over Job’s iniquity, a job which his friends have botched (same root as ‘plasterers’ in 13:4).

All Job’s hopes are summed up in the belief that God will remember him (13)….(pp. 172, 173)​

All this to note that there are readings of chapter 14 which support rather then deny a hope in a life to come, and which we find in a clearer expression in 19:25-27. Perhaps I should even say, “a prophetic expression,” for is it not by the Spirit of God Job could say such a thing?

For interactions, Paul, with the Hebrew language of these texts, I suggest going through some commentaries. I don’t have many here where I am (only a few, such as Roy Zuck’s book of essays [he the editor, and occasional contributor], Sitting with Job, and the work of Anderson quoted above, and a few others). In North America you should have easy access to a good many more.

Steve
 
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Wannabee

Obi Wan Kenobi
Paul,

I'll make a couple of observations, then let it rest. My main reason for responding was to point out the problem in your hermeneutics so that others would see it, and in hopes that you would consider the slippery slope I see in your handling of Scripture. With this in mind, I'll address a couple of your challenges. And rest assured, friend, that these are made in charity, if not unity. Unfortunately, tone does not convey in forums.

It is understood that men are totally depraved and therefore deserve immediate judgment. It is also clear that every one of us can die at any moment and the world will go on turning. Will God be glorified in our life and death is the question. Either we are counted as sheep for the slaughter (not entirely a NT concept - Ps 44:22) or not. This point is asserted by Jesus in the tower of Siloam account (Luke 13:4).
Does the NT shed light on the OT or not? Yes, our first step on exegesis with any passage must begin with that passage. But as our understanding grows the analogy of faith is a valid hermeneutical principle. Furthermore, you will be extremely hard pressed to find me reading any NT passages into Job. Yes, I refer to them to help with understanding, but there is no imposition. Don't make statements like this lightly.
Job 19:25-27 makes it clear that Job believes in a resurrection (as does Ps 17:15 for David). It does not make it clear that he understands the nature of the resurrection. Since Job is a righteous man he obviously has an undestanding of God. Without willing to argue about it, I would also think that he understands that to see the face of God is to die. This knowledge would have bearing on his confidence that he would see God face to face after his flesh is cut off. Furthermore, Steve's comments above shed additional light on Job's confidence in a resurrection.

Again, to not take Scripture at face value is dangerous ground. If one decides that a certain writing is allegorical, symbolic, etc., then one must have clear hermeneutical principles that define both the reason why and the perameters that will limit his use of these principles. Otherwise any portion of Scripture can say anything we want to impose upon it. Wherever one chooses to depart from the clear and simple meaning of the text one needs to give clear pinciples that allow, mandate, guide and restrict such an interpretation. What I perceive in your hermeneutics is a willingness to impose your preferences and feelings upon the text (using such words as "unsettling" and the ill advised statement of God making a "wager" are two examples). Will man judge that which God has provided to judge him?

Matt's observations earlier are helpful.
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.
Finally, Paul, I am not interested in sparring. You seem to think this is some sort of game. I do not. Both Josh and Ginny stood up for what they perceived was an improper handling of God's Word, as did I. Please consider the implications. This isn't simply sparring over theological nuances. This particular discussion is foundational to how we view God's Word and whether or not we are submissive to it.

Respectfully and sincerely,
For our King
Joe
 
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caddy

Puritan Board Senior
Well said Joe :up:

Paul,

I'll make a couple of observations, then let it rest. My main reason for responding was to point out the problem in your hermeneutics so that others would see it, and in hopes that you would consider the slippery slope I see in your handling of Scripture. With this in mind, I'll address a couple of your challenges. And rest assured, friend, that these are made in charity, if not unity. Unfortunately, tone does not convey in forums.

It is understood that men are totally depraved and therefore deserve immediate judgment. It is also clear that every one of us can die at any moment and the world will go on turning. Will God be glorified in our life and death is the question. Either we are counted as sheep for the slaughter (not entirely a NT concept - Ps 44:22) or not. This point is asserted by Jesus in the tower of Siloam account (Luke 13:4).
Does the NT shed light on the OT or not? Yes, our first step on exegesis with any passage must begin with that passage. But as our understanding grows the analogy of faith is a valid hermeneutical principle. Furthermore, you will be extremely hard pressed to find me reading any NT passages into Job. Yes, I refer to them to help with understanding, but there is no imposition. Don't make statements like this lightly.
Job 19:25-27 makes it clear that Job believes in a resurrection (as does Ps 17:15 for David). It does not make it clear that he understands the nature of the resurrection. Since Job is a righteous man he obviously has an undestanding of God. Without willing to argue about it, I would also think that he understands that to see the face of God is to die. This knowledge would have bearing on his confidence that he would see God face to face after his flesh is cut off. Furthermore, Steve's comments above shed additional light on Job's confidence in a resurrection.

Again, to not take Scripture at face value is dangerous ground. If one decides that a certain writing is allegorical, symbolic, etc., then one must have clear hermeneutical principles that define both the reason why and the perameters that will limit his use of these principles. Otherwise any portion of Scripture can say anything we want to impose upon it. Wherever one chooses to depart from the clear and simple meaning of the text one needs to give clear pinciples that allow, mandate, guide and restrict such an interpretation. What I perceive in your hermeneutics is a willingness to impose your preferences and feelings upon the text (using such words as "unsettling" and the ill advised statement of God making a "wager" are two examples). Will man judge that which God has provided to judge him?

Matt's observations earlier are helpful.
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.
Finally, Paul, I am not interested in sparring. You seem to think this is some sort of game. I do not. Both Josh and Ginny stood up for what they perceived was an improper handling of God's Word, as did I. Please consider the implications. This isn't simply sparring over theological nuances. This particular discussion is foundational to how we view God's Word and whether or not we are submissive to it.

Respectfully and sincerely,
For our King
Joe
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Steve, thanks for your response. I'm glad we agree that Job is both problematic and profound, and that you took the time to research the points of 1) Job's historicity; and 2) Job's understanding of immortality.

Regarding the first, we agree. I can think of no way to prove Job's historicity conclusively, but neither do I see any overwhelming evidence in the text that suggests Job was not a historical person. Hence, I have no problem with understanding Job as an actual person, which, as I've stated below, only exacerbates Job's disturbing qualities.

Regarding the second, I am happy to allow for readings of Job other than my own, since I am certainly no Hebrew scholar. I found the quotation of Francis Anderson particularly interesting, though I do not agree. Instead, I read Job 14:13 and following as an impossible wish followed by a series of contrary-to-fact conditions. At least Anderson attempts to interact with Job in its own right, however, a laudable hermeneutic even though I disagree.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Joe, I have to run at the moment, but I wanted you to know that I do plan to respond. Looking forward to it! - PW
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
In response to Joe's comments, let me begin by assuring readers of these posts that I take Scripture very seriously, and that my hermeneutical approach to Job seeks faithfulness to the text. Intimating that such is not the case is either misguided or disingenuous. Where my readings of Job are in error, I request that those errors be made known with textual evidence from Job. Refutation of my argument requires textual evidence from Job for two reasons. First, immediate context should be our guiding hermeneutical strategy for reading any text. Second, Job certainly did not have access to the New Testament, and may not have even had access to any other book of Scripture. To claim that Job knew of the resurrection because of subsequent writings in either the New or Old Testaments is the definition of anachronism. I sincerely hope that evidence from Job will emerge that refutes my argument about Job's ignorance of the resurrection (especially from the original language.) Unfortunately, the alternative readings offered thus far fall into one of two camps: 1) Possible readings based upon a particular approach to the text of Job; and 2) Valiant assertions that either lack textual evidence from Job or evidence altogether. I prefer the former, which by the way is exactly what my reading is. It is a possible (I think probable) reading of Job that approaches the text by seeking to understand how Job read his own suffering.

Though I cannot say categorically that Job had no knowledge of the resurrection (which we so often read into 19:25), I also do not see any likely readings of Job that refute such an assertion. Hence, I find Job's suffering highly disturbing, since Job would have understood the death of his children as their final end. My distress is a reaction that I think the text purposefully elicits in its readership, and I am interested in explicating the reasons why such a text was included in our canon.
 
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jtbdad

Puritan Board Freshman
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.


This has always been my method. Unless it states in some way that the portion is not literal such as Jesus speaking in Parables, then it is to be taken literally.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
That's exactly right, Joshua. It is because I believe that Job is canonical that I need to grapple with it. Otherwise, I could just cast it aside. Thanks for helping me clarify that point.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'm not engaging right now as I need to prepare a sermon. I anticipate being back after that priority is fulfilled.
 

etexas

Puritan Board Doctor
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?
I have proof! I saw Steve Jobs in an interview about a month ago! He was real I tell ya!:p
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
Weinhold said: "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 think the answer to this maybe cultural differences between us and Job. The greatest blessing of children to them may have been that their name continued on "forever" since they themselves were dying off (no knowledge of the afterlife)... so the book's focus on that main blessing instead of on the individual children. The book ends this way: Job sees 4 generations of descendants, then dies. His name continues past death. This makes way more sense if one reads the whole book thinking that Job doesn't know about life after death. But since he (in my opinion) doesn't, we hear about his children living on after death. They are the Job's afterlife. And what is said about his children sounds disturbing because... well... we have more info and recognize there is an afterlife. Here is another example. Perhaps Isaiah knows about an afterlife, but the common people don't seem to all know this. Look at how God speaks to the eunuchs through Isaiah:

"let not the eunuch say,
'Behold, I am a dry tree.'
For thus says the LORD:
'To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give in my house and within my walls
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.'" (Is 56:3-5)

Notice that sons and daughters are equated with their name continuing past death, and that a monument with their name on it is far greater than children!!?! If God were talking to eunuchs in our day he would have probably said that they would continue forever among God's people with him in heaven and on a renewed earth. But these eunuchs don't appear to know about an afterlife, so God says a tomb or monument will be erected in their honor within the city after their death so that they may continue forever among his people even though they are dry trees and don't have any children to be their "afterlife."

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

Wannabee said: "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."

I'm curious at how you would show my earlier post regarding my reading of this passage to be wrong. I admit it may be wrong, but I'm just not sure of what the problem with it is. It seems to make more sense in light of the whole book, but I realize that doesn't necessarily make it right.

Armourbearer said: "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."

Without right now taking into account the way Job is referred to in other places in scripture, it would seem that the nature of the book in of itself is not clear (to me). You mentioned looking for literal markers and figures at the beginning of the story. Well what does it say? It says this:

There was a man names Job who had:
10 children (7+3)
10,000 sheep & camels (7,000 + 3,000)
1,000 yoke of oxen and donkeys (500+500)

then afterward he has twice as many:

20,000 sheep & camels (2x 7000 sheep & 2x 3000 camels)
2,000 oxen and donkeys (2x500 + 2x500)

In between these two bookends is a story told in poetry. And the different characters usually speak in the same style. This would seem to make the book, considered in of itself, unclear as to its exact historicity. But then the book ends with his grandchildren who's aunt was actually "aunt Jemimah." Even as a child I never thought she was a literal person as I was eating my pancakes, but maybe she was.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
I think the answer to this maybe cultural differences between us and Job. The greatest blessing of children to them may have been that their name continued on "forever" since they themselves were dying off (no knowledge of the afterlife)... so the book's focus on that main blessing instead of on the individual children. The book ends this way: Job sees 4 generations of descendants, then dies. His name continues past death. This makes way more sense if one reads the whole book thinking that Job doesn't know about life after death. But since he (in my opinion) doesn't, we hear about his children living on after death. They are the Job's afterlife. And what is said about his children sounds disturbing because... well... we have more info and recognize there is an afterlife

Yours is an interesting reading of Job that I had not considered. But doesn't your reading "replace" (a term contested earlier) Job's dead children with new ones, and make their purpose perpetuating his line? How would you deal with their loss from the perspective of their intrinsic value as human beings?
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
Yours is an interesting reading of Job that I had not considered. But doesn't your reading "replace" (a term contested earlier) Job's dead children with new ones, and make their purpose perpetuating his line? How would you deal with their loss from the perspective of their intrinsic value as human beings?

Job's pain after their death is where the story deals with their loss as human beings, the beginning and the end of the story are considering the loss of the children from the perspective of being Job's seed. They are something about of Job that continues after Job dies. Job's seed continues after his death even though for a brief time it looked like his name would be forgotten forever. Looking at it from this perspective it does not matter who his children are. The book doesn't tell us what the children were each personally like, it isn't interested in telling their story but Job's.

If I were to say the following I would not speaking directly about all the intrinsic value of lost individual human beings:
"My city's population sharply decreased last year because of a mysterious illness to the point where there not enough people to fill all of the jobs that were needed to keep the whole city going. But now there has been an influx of brave souls who have come in from other cities and the city is prospering"
If one reads what I said above thinking I'm referring to someone's brother and mother and friend who died, they might think I'm saying their loved ones have replacements. But that simply isn't what is meant.
I don't know if that helps.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Job's pain after their death is where the story deals with their loss as human beings, the beginning and the end of the story are considering the loss of the children from the perspective of being Job's seed. They are something about of Job that continues after Job dies. Job's seed continues after his death even though for a brief time it looked like his name would be forgotten forever. Looking at it from this perspective it does not matter who his children are. The book doesn't tell us what the children were each personally like, it isn't interested in telling their story but Job's.

If I were to say the following I would not speaking directly about all the intrinsic value of lost individual human beings:
"My city's population sharply decreased last year because of a mysterious illness to the point where there not enough people to fill all of the jobs that were needed to keep the whole city going. But now there has been an influx of brave souls who have come in from other cities and the city is prospering"
If one reads what I said above thinking I'm referring to someone's brother and mother and friend who died, they might think I'm saying their loved ones have replacements. But that simply isn't what is meant.
I don't know if that helps.

Having spent a fair amount of time among Bedouins in the desert, I think your observation is pretty good. There is, even now, a strong desire for posterity among the near-east orientals. Even among university educated Arabs, for instance, the most important thing a man can be called is "Abu" or father.

Paul, I'd really like to address your questions about the Hebrew, but I'm pressed for time. Let me give a thumbnail view here. I think neither Job nor the writer of Job discounted the intrinsic value of human life. Rather, the view seems more akin to "what's done is done, may God be blessed." This is a common cultural view among the ancient mid-easterners, and I'd suggest it stems from an acknowledgment that God is sovereign over all things. The view permeates Genesis, and I think the men of Job's period had the same world-view.

When reading the Hebrew, try to imagine hearing the words around a desert campfire, spoken by the elder herdsman who actually knew the man who knew Job. (I'm speculating, of course, and I know the Holy Spirit preserved it). It might give a sense of the strange romance of the era. It isn't a matter of whether Job understood the resurrection or not, rather, he understood that he was facing a mystery. His statement that he will see his redeemer is not black and white and he knows it. It is a manifestation of eastern world-view that we westerners haven't seen first hand.

This is a ramble, I know, but I'm trying to say that the old bedouins think both literally and figuratively at the same time. Their tradition views experience as already-not-yet without being conscious of it. I think the same thing was happening with Job.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Folks, below is an interesting blog link. It offers a reading of Job that may qualify my point about Job's ignorance of the resurrection.

Click here to read it.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Job's pain after their death is where the story deals with their loss as human beings, the beginning and the end of the story are considering the loss of the children from the perspective of being Job's seed. They are something about of Job that continues after Job dies. Job's seed continues after his death even though for a brief time it looked like his name would be forgotten forever. Looking at it from this perspective it does not matter who his children are. The book doesn't tell us what the children were each personally like, it isn't interested in telling their story but Job's.

This is an interesting reading, which seeks to explain my distress over Job's children as a cultural disconnect. It seems rather implausible, however, that a righteous man like Job, who cared enough for his children to rise early in the morning and make sacrifices "just in case," would view them only as the guarantors of his bloodline's continuance. Your thoughts?
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Paul, I'd really like to address your questions about the Hebrew, but I'm pressed for time. Let me give a thumbnail view here. I think neither Job nor the writer of Job discounted the intrinsic value of human life. Rather, the view seems more akin to "what's done is done, may God be blessed." This is a common cultural view among the ancient mid-easterners, and I'd suggest it stems from an acknowledgment that God is sovereign over all things. The view permeates Genesis, and I think the men of Job's period had the same world-view.

I'd love to hear your perspective on the Hebrew text whenever you get a chance. Regarding the thumbnail sketch, isn't this "common cultural view" one that Job itself challenges? In other words, Job doesn't just say "what's done is done," but challenges God when he perceives injustice.
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
This is an interesting reading, which seeks to explain my distress over Job's children as a cultural disconnect. It seems rather implausible, however, that a righteous man like Job, who cared enough for his children to rise early in the morning and make sacrifices "just in case," would view them only as the guarantors of his bloodline's continuance. Your thoughts?

Maybe I wasn't clear... Job wasn't considering them "only" as his seed. He obviously isn't. His pain after their death to the point of wanting to bring God to court probably include his children's value as human beings. What father would view his children only as his seed? You have to separate Job's mind from the author's mind. Job, in the book, cares for his children, but the book itself isn't about his children. It isn't a book about children or fathers. It is about a person who is suffering for, as God says in the book, "no reason." And it is about that person and his friends trying to force their prosperity-type theology into contorted ways that explain the suffering, and both sides failing with flying colors but in opposite ways. They are looking for the reason. Then God shows them how they were actually forcing himself into their theology and that was the actual problem.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe I wasn't clear... Job wasn't considering them "only" as his seed. He obviously isn't. His pain after their death to the point of wanting to bring God to court probably include his children's value as human beings. What father would view his children only as his seed? You have to separate Job's mind from the author's mind. Job, in the book, cares for his children, but the book itself isn't about his children. It isn't a book about children or fathers. It is about a person who is suffering for, as God says in the book, "no reason." And it is about that person and his friends trying to force their prosperity-type theology into contorted ways that explain the suffering, and both sides failing with flying colors but in opposite ways. They are looking for the reason. Then God shows them how they were actually forcing himself into their theology and that was the actual problem.

I find it interesting how our conversation on this board has revealed the different layers "reading" in Job. Job reads his own suffering. The Job author reads Job's suffering. Captive Israel reads Job. The New Testament authors read Job. Each reading is a discrete interpretation of the events. So here's a thought: What is the significance of Job's own interpretation of his suffering? I indicate in my earlier comments that I believe Job's perspective to be of utmost importance. It seems from other comments, however, that many take the opposite stance, that Job's reading of his own suffering is perhaps the least important because of later readings (i.e. Job author, OT Israel, NT Christians, etc). But is that a reliable hermeneutic for approaching a text?
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Here is an article from byFaith, the web magazine of the PCA, regarding dignity and intrinsic value of human beings. This was a topic discussed earlier regarding Job's children, but I thought some might enjoy the article:

Click Here to Read It.
 

reformedman

Puritan Board Freshman
This is an interesting reading, which seeks to explain my distress over Job's children as a cultural disconnect. It seems rather implausible, however, that a righteous man like Job, who cared enough for his children to rise early in the morning and make sacrifices "just in case," would view them only as the guarantors of his bloodline's continuance. Your thoughts?

Maybe I wasn't clear... Job wasn't considering them "only" as his seed. He obviously isn't. His pain after their death to the point of wanting to bring God to court probably include his children's value as human beings. What father would view his children only as his seed? You have to separate Job's mind from the author's mind. Job, in the book, cares for his children, but the book itself isn't about his children. It isn't a book about children or fathers. It is about a person who is suffering for, as God says in the book, "no reason." And it is about that person and his friends trying to force their prosperity-type theology into contorted ways that explain the suffering, and both sides failing with flying colors but in opposite ways. They are looking for the reason. Then God shows them how they were actually forcing himself into their theology and that was the actual problem.

I believe it is about the power of imputed faith. That left to man, he would fall and give-in to sufferings, but by God's sustaining a man, he can go through any suffering, trial, temptation, testing, anything! soli-deo-gloria.
 

caddy

Puritan Board Senior
To draw from my present reading of Romans, I believe we have no right to complain against God and when we do we expose ourselves as disobedient. I think the scriptures allude time and time again that God is under no obligatioin to give us an intellectually satisfying answer to Jobs' problems or our own. God's sovereignty is not to be questioned in connection with the problem of evil; it is rather to be underscored. Oh, for sure, we'll go there out of our sinful nature and our youthful ignorance, but in hasty reply we have the words of Job in Chapters 38-40. So, I disagree with your statement that Job's perspective to be of the utmost importance.

Job 38:1-3 ESV Job 38:1 Then the LORD aanswered Job out of the whirlwind and said: 2 "Who is this that adarkens counsel by words bwithout knowledge? 3 aDress for action1 like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.

The very nature of faith is to persevere despite unanswered questions. Thus does God's word encourage sufferers to hold on tightly to God's promises and not to be overcome with doubt. God's word is truth and altogether reliable. He is holy, just and good. Job is but a man and we are reminded from the book itself that it is not what Job says that is important, nor his perspective, but What God has to say about the matter.
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
I find it interesting how our conversation on this board has revealed the different layers "reading" in Job. Job reads his own suffering. The Job author reads Job's suffering. Captive Israel reads Job. The New Testament authors read Job. Each reading is a discrete interpretation of the events. So here's a thought: What is the significance of Job's own interpretation of his suffering? I indicate in my earlier comments that I believe Job's perspective to be of utmost importance. It seems from other comments, however, that many take the opposite stance, that Job's reading of his own suffering is perhaps the least important because of later readings (i.e. Job author, OT Israel, NT Christians, etc). But is that a reliable hermeneutic for approaching a text?

Well I think it it usually customary to try and understand what an author is saying because you are hearing the story from them and they aren't telling it to you for no reason. They are interpreting the events and their intention is that you understand something of what thy are trying to say. The author has a big picture interpretation of the minds/actions of the characters in the book. In this case the author begins by making the reader privy to information about God's mind and Satan's mind that the other characters in the book never find out about and so are ignorant throughout the entire book. The author is giving us an overhead view. Then the story tells us how those characters reasoned in their minds to make up for their ignorance and turned their own ignorance into self-deception. We see their ignorance through the story because through the introduction, the author made us less ignorant than those in the story.

In the intro, the author makes it clear to us that Job's sinning began after he was already suffering, and the suffering was not punishment for sin: In all of this Job did not sin with his lips..." which is preparing us for Job sinning with his lips afterward so that we will not think Job is suffering because he is charging God with wrong later (he isn't being punished for something before he did it). God says (certainly in the context of their theology) that Job was suffering "for no reason."

The author reveals what is going on in Job's mind: Job knows he did not commit a sin that deserved this (or no unforgiven sin that deserved this), so Job knows something his friends don't. He tries to reconcile this knowledge with his theology, and fill the ignorance in his mind with "truth." That "truth" ends up being "Since people suffer like this as judgment for sin, and since I did not sin to deserve this, God is being unjust." Job justifies himself at God's expense.

The author also reveals what is going on in the minds of Job's friends. They are ignorant of Job's actions, whether he has unforgiven sin or not. So when they try to fit Job into their theology they come to the conclusion, "Job is suffering for sin that he committed." They justify God at Job's expense.

Both sides were wrong.

Their theology + a finite mind is a box too small to contain the God they think it is fully describing. Humans, no matter if they are as righteous as Job, should recognize that their own reasoning abilities are no match for their own ignorance.

God is more than we think.
 
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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
Paul,

You had written earlier (post 24),

Ginny,

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).

Would I be amiss saying that “a bright passing glimpse of Old Testament hope” is far from “ignorance”? I think we all can affirm that, compared to the steady glory of the New Testament revelation, what was seen in the OT times was dim, and with Job perhaps only a bright passing glimpse. But men have been known to live and die on the surety of such glimpses!

In post 48 you made a statement about our “intrinsic value as human beings”. Interesting concept. What is our intrinsic value? When I say intrinsic I do not mean that which is bestowed upon us by the favor of God, but in and of ourselves? We are His who made us, to do with as He wishes. And whatever He does, we know “His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He” (Deut 32:4), “and holy in all His works” (Ps 145:17).

A correction in post 19; was not Daniel Russ’ essay “Job and the Tragedy of Divine Love" in The Tragic Abyss? Not that I have it, although it (and The Epic Cosmos) both sound like great reads!

In Zuck’s earlier-mentioned book, I was reading Albert Barnes’ essay expositing Job 19:25-29 by a word-for-word examination of the Hebrew, and unfortunately (for me!) he takes your view! He does a nice job, but it left me thinking, when we have experts who differ in their takes of the text, what are we left with? For I can list as many (likely far more) who support the traditional view – and translation of the Hebrew – than the view you take, though I know that does not necessarily prove anything.

I was also reading Gleason Archer’s little book on Job, and he exposits the same Hebrew text as Barnes and holds to the reading that Job was talking of the resurrection and the Redeemer. I should mention I do not think there are many Hebrew scholars today who can hold candles to the learning and godliness of the scholars who translated the Masoretic Hebrew into the King James Old Testament. I do trust their learning, or perhaps I should say I trust the Sovereign who ordained that they should have been born and schooled to just such a task (and I do not mean James!).

I think the AV’s OT is sound both as to its text and its translation. I do value the endeavors of exegetes and Hebrew experts in unpacking the text, but not when they would supplant the Ecclesiastical Text. I know it may seem I am begging the question here, but rather it is my presupposition showing.

If all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, who is to say that Job’s “bright passing glimpse of Old Testament hope” was not as Peter said regarding such OT Scripture,

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (1:21)​

I’m sure you can appreciate the view that men were not left to their own devices in seeking understanding of spiritual truths, but often were quickened by the Spirit of God to see far beyond what their own knowledge and abilities would allow.

Given what I said above in post 35, I would continue in that vein to say Job did indeed transcend his own understanding – although the OT saints were not bereft of knowledge of a coming Redeemer, and a life beyond the one they lived on the earth – to utter what has become a classic expression of faith from an OT seer, those differing in their views of it notwithstanding.

I do appreciate your seeking a depth understanding, unencumbered by mere tradition, of one of the profounder explorations of suffering and evil that the people of God have. I think you have enriched us all by your tenacious stand and our resultant re-evaluation of the text and its meanings.

Good to interact with you, Paul.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Folks, sorry it's taken me so long to respond. Hopefully the conversation hasn't died completely. While I've been away, however, I have had time to re-read Job and converse with a few friends about my reading of it. So before interacting with comments from Steve and C. Gorsuch, I'd like to offer a few new thoughts of my own.

1) After reading Job again, I am even more convinced that Job had no knowledge of the resurrection. What I am less sure about, however, is whether Job's angst stems from the loss of his children. Instead, Job's main concern is vindicating his own righteousness.

2) I found it fascinating that God rebukes Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar and yet He does not rebuke Elihu, the young man who chastises Job just prior to God's appearance from the whirlwind. At the same time, I'm not sure what the real difference was between Elihu's advice and the others'.

3) When I spoke to a friend of mine about my reading of Job, he used a hermeneutic from Augustine (sorry I don't have a citation). Here's an example from Theopedia, a reading of the word "Jerusalem":

- Literal: The historical city
- Allegorical: The Church
- Moral: Human Soul
- Anagogical: Heaven

According to such a hermeneutic, all four of these "readings" can simultaneously coexist within a text of scripture. None are subordinated to another. Perhaps my reading weighs heavily on the side of "Literal" while others tend toward the anagogical or Moral?


Ok, now to interact with C. Gorsuch:

In the intro, the author makes it clear to us that Job's sinning began after he was already suffering, and the suffering was not punishment for sin: In all of this Job did not sin with his lips..." which is preparing us for Job sinning with his lips afterward so that we will not think Job is suffering because he is charging God with wrong later (he isn't being punished for something before he did it). God says (certainly in the context of their theology) that Job was suffering "for no reason."

I am particularly interested in the first line of the above quote. How did Job sin? By demanding justice?

Now Steve, a few bullet points:

- Perhaps I should have said "virtual ignorance," but I think the effect is the same. At best, Job has a murky understanding that an afterlife exists, and that it is not pleasant.

- As human beings created imago dei we have intrinsic value. I really think we agree here.

- Yes, Russ' essay is in The Epic Cosmos

- I'm glad you discovered Zuck's interpretation, although it certainly is not conclusive since (as you mention) other expositors disagree.

I should mention I do not think there are many Hebrew scholars today who can hold candles to the learning and godliness of the scholars who translated the Masoretic Hebrew into the King James Old Testament.

I found this quote interesting. Why would today's Hebrew scholars be any less capable in their translation? To me, the opposite would seem to be the case.
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
Weinhold said, "I am particularly interested in the first line of the above quote. How did Job sin? By demanding justice?"


Job's argument implies that God is being unrighteous. God is a sinner. God is unjust.
Job condemns God because of his suffering. Job wishes there was someone who could stand between him and God as a mediator to prove his own righteousness so that God can see it clearly and reverse his actions. This is what I meant earlier about Job justifying himself at God's expense (while Job's friends justified God as Job's expense).

Maybe I'll work backwards to try and explain what I'm seeing. Look at how God interprets Job's argument:

"And the LORD said to Job:
“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it...
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?" (Job 40:1-8)

So God says Job was accusing him as being at fault, as arguing against God's actions, as putting God in the wrong, and as condemning God. There are so many verses I could list of Job doing this, so instead I'll just try to explain how I think the author intends us to be interpreting what Job is saying. Once one sees that, suddenly Job's sin sticks out clearly in so many verses that one can see why his friends argued the way they did and were so upset. But then Job's friend's sin sicks out as well, and one can also see why Job was arguing the way he did and why he was so upset at his friends. Both groups' sin sticks out to us because we are privy to the knowledge of what is happening behind the scenes (the intro) but they were not. They lacked this knowledge, and both sides sinned based on this lack of knowledge.

Fact 1: We, as did Job and his friends, understand the following saying to be from God and to be explaning facts: "Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?"

Fact 2: Job is suffering

Now, presupposing there are no uninterpreted facts, how do the characters in the book interpret the above facts?

Job's friends: One of Job's friends explains how God spoke to him through an angel and said, "Can mortal man be in the right before God? Can a man be pure before his Maker?" (Job 4:17). This friend trusts the statement as fact, and he can see the fact that Job is suffering, but he interprets those facts together as meaning Job and his children are in the wrong because of sin. This same friend later reveals his thoughts more freely: "Is it for your fear of him that he reproves you and enters into judgment with you? Is not your evil abundant? There is no end to your iniquities." (Job 22:4-5). Another friend interprets the 2 facts similarly: "How then can man be in the right before God? How can he who is born of woman be pure?" (Job 25:4). And another friend: "you say, ‘...I am clean in God’s eyes.’ But... God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves" (Job 11:4-6). These friends did not know what we do: this particular suffering was not coming on Job because of his sin. It came on Job because of his righteousness. These friends justify God at Job's expense.

Fact 3: This suffering is not coming on Job as punishment for sin.

Job knows the above three facts, so he is slightly less in the dark than his friends. Job knows this third fact. As God had originally said, Job is "a blameless and upright man" (Job 1:8) and Job says of himself, in relation to the suffering he was enduring, that he was "a just and blameless man" (Job 12:4) and "I am in the right... I am blameless" (Job 9:20). I'm reading these as being in relative to the suffering, not his argument. And as God had also said in the intro that Job was suffering "for no reason" so too Job says he is suffering: "without cause" (Job 9:17). So now how does Job interpret fact 1 in light of fact 2 & 3? Well, first off Job agrees that the fact is true. "Truly I know that it is so: But how can a man be in the right before God?" (Job 9:2). But notice how he interprets that fact in light of the others. He interprets it 180 degrees from what his friends understand it to mean (and both interpret it incorrectly in light of, say, Paul's understanding of what God means). Job interprets the fact as meaning no one can argue his actual innocence before a person who is both the accuser and the judge and the most powerful–there is no mediation at all and so Job's cause is, in that sense, hopeless:

"Truly I know that it is so:
But how can a man be in the right before God? [how can the innocent be right before the highest judge when that judge accuses them]
If one wished to contend with him, [assert his innocence in court]
one could not answer him once in a thousand times... [because the one being accused is the judge who renders the verdict]
Who will say to him, ‘What are you doing?’ [there is neither higher authority nor peer to receive accusations]
...How then can I answer him,
choosing my words with him?
Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; [I am innocent, but he is judge and accuser and there is no one to mediate.]
I must appeal for mercy to my accuser. [Although innocent, I'm left with only one option because of his power and position: appeal for mercy]
If I summoned him [to court] and he answered me,
I would not believe that he was listening to my voice. [because he is my accuser and judge and has already condemned me]
For he crushes me with a tempest [he has already issued his verdict and condemned me]
and multiplies my wounds without cause... [this is actually true: God said Job was suffering "for no reason" but it doesn't fit into Job's theology, so Job's interpretation is that God must be unjust]
For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should come to trial together. [with a judge or peer between us]
There is no arbiter between us, [no one to mediate]
who might lay his hand on us both. [God the "unjust" judge could powerfully overcome any mediator]
Let him take his rod away from me, [he must stop asserting his strength for Job to accuse him]
and let not dread of him terrify me. [Job is too scared by his power to accuse him directly without a mediator]
Then I would speak without fear of him,
for I am not so in myself." (Job 9:2-35)

God's words to Job again:

"And the LORD said to Job:
“Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty?
He who argues with God, let him answer it...
Will you even put me in the wrong?
Will you condemn me that you may be in the right?" (Job 40:1-8)

Now, with this interpretation of Job's arguments and his friends arguments, I think you'll find that if you reread many of the other things Job says, his sin will stick out like a sore thumb. Hopefully this answers your question, "How did Job sin?"
 
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