Job an allegory

Status
Not open for further replies.

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
C. Gorsuch, thanks for your comments in the above post, and I'm sorry it has taken me so long to respond.

You make a strong argument that Job actually sins in demanding justice, though I'm not sure I would label his words and actions as sinful. I think the strongest proof in favor of such a view comes from God's speech in Job 40, which you mention above. I also found your commentary on Job 9 quite interesting. The view of God that Job articulates in both Book 9 and 40, however, impresses me as more like Aeschylus' Zeus than, say, St. John's "God is Love":

"Zeus has led us on to know,
the Helmsman lays it down as law
that we must suffer, suffer into truth.
We cannot sleep, and drop by drop at the heart
the pain of pain remembered comes again,
and we resist, but ripeness comes as well.
From the gods enthroned on the awesome rowing-bench
there comes a violent love." - Agamemnon

Such allusions aside, I wonder at the display God makes when He appears in the whirlwind, and at the fact that Job is satisfied with God's answer. Does God prove the justice of His actions to Job? I'm not sure; He certainly displays might. Is Job sinful in demanding that he be treated according to the principles of the religion he so meticulously followed? I think not, but as we have seen, interpretations vary on the issue. Either way, I am positive that readers of Job are not meant to feel certain about this God that we worship. He doesn't play by our rules, and we are to feel slightly to extremely uneasy about that fact. In the end then, perhaps readers of Job are left as Job himself must have been left: with unanswered questions, awed, confused, suffering loss but gaining new riches, righteous, repentant, vindicated, and rebuked.
 

Sydnorphyn

Puritan Board Freshman
Concerning Ezekiel 14

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.


Good day:
FYI: The Daniel in Ezekiel is viewed by many (most critical scholars) as not the Daniel of the exile.

John
 
Last edited:

caddy

Puritan Board Senior
I thought this was good on 3rdMill:

Reformed Answers: Development of Afterlife Doctrine

Development of Afterlife Doctrine

Question


When in the history of the church did God's people develop an understanding of the afterlife? Did the Israelites have a sense of conversion unto eternal life in heaven, or did they just see God's promises as coming to fruition when their people reached the land of milk and honey?
Answer

This is a difficult question to answer because it pertains to what the people believed and at what time they believed it. It is much easier to say what the Bible teaches and what the people should have believed!

Certainly by the time of the New Testament many Israelites believed in a resurrection unto eternal life. The resurrection was affirmed by the Pharisees, but denied by the Sadducees (Acts 23:6-8). Of course, the resurrection unto eternal life was taught in the Old Testament, which is why the Pharisees affirmed it.

Jesus himself argued with the Sadducees on this point, teaching that the resurrection is proven by the fact that the Old Testament refers to the dead as still serving God (Matt. 22:23-32). In Matthew 22:32, Jesus based this argument on Exodus 3:6. (He did this because the Sadducees recognized the authority of the books of Moses, but rejected most others.) So, according to Jesus, at least Moses believed in an afterlife. Whether or not Moses’ followers also believed it, they should have believed it based on Moses’ teachings.

To go back a bit farther, we find Abraham’s faith that God could restore Isaac from the dead (Gen. 22 w/ Heb. 11:17-19), which would seem to imply that Abraham believed Isaac still existed somewhere after death. And even before this, we have the biblical example of the primeval father Enoch in Genesis 5:24, who was taken into heaven (Heb. 11:5).

Even at the very beginning, Moses recorded that Abel’s blood cried to God from the ground. This may not look like a direct reference to an afterlife, but I think it is. We find such confirmation of this idea in Hebrews 11:4, where the author says that Abel still speaks. Also, Revelation 6:9-10 suggests the way that Abel’s blood cried out to God when it describes the petitions of the slain saints in heaven.

Besides these, Job expressed a belief in a physical afterlife (Job 19:25) as well as a belief in the existence of departed spirits (Job 26:5). Isaiah 14:9; 26:14-19 and Psalm 88:10 also speak of departed spirits. Many other passages suggest similar ideas.

So, it seems to me that biblical books from a wide range of ages – from the oldest on down – speak of an afterlife. And the Mosaic texts suggest that the ideas as old as mankind. A number of texts also speak of a resurrection from the dead, and many more imply it. At least some people in Israel and Judah, then, actually believed in these things, and all of them should have believed in them. How many actually did believe them? It’s hard to say before the time of the Pharisees.

[SIZE=-1]Answer by Ra McLaughlin[/SIZE]
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
Weinhold said, "You make a strong argument that Job actually sins in demanding justice, though I'm not sure I would label his words and actions as sinful."

I noticed with this and one of your previous replied you seem to want to assert Job's innocence in what he is saying (I myself argued that he is innocent before the extended argument). But I can't understand why you think he is not sinning in the argument he is making. I agree that if Job were simply demanding justice he would not be sinning. But I can't read what Job is arguing and not see him accusing God of what he interprets as "injustice". How is this not calling God unjust? But not only that, doesn't God tell Job that this is what Job is doing? Let me know what it is that you are seeing because I'm not yet seeing the book with that perspective.

I know I'm repeating much of what I've already said, but notice in this quick outline how I think Job's sin fits into the book so well:

1) Through the introductory heavenly scene we are privy to the behind-the-scenes info those in the story aren't: we don't lack this knowledge.
2) Job and his friends make judgments based on what little info they know: Friends justfy God at Job's expense, Job justifies himself at God's.
3) Their judgments faith because their reasoning does not fully take into account this lack of knowledge (that we have, #1 above).
4) Job wants to bring God to court and explain his accusations against him that he came up with based on information he doesn't have but thinks he knows (behind the scenes God is doing something unjust: #1 again).
5) God appears and says, "Oh, so I'm at fault, condemned by you so you can justify yourself?"
6) God asks Job questions he can't possibly know the answers to.
7) Job realizes his suffering is a question he can't possibly know the answer to (lack of knowledge of #1 above).
8) Job repents (of his sin) by answering God's accusations against him with "I have uttered what I did not understand." Which is an admission of guilt.
9) So Job has now come full circle and reached the beginning of the story where we are sitting with knowledge that he doen't have. Except for now Job knows he doesn't have this knowledge.

Thus the story resolves nicely.
And is incredibly practical. After hearing this story, we will think twice about charging people with wrong based on suffering they are enduring: "Hey Jesus... who sinned so that this man is blind? Him or his parents?" But most of all, after hearing this story we can't charge God with wrong when we are suffering. Someone far greater than us couldn't. As much as it ever appears that God is being unjust, we kow the answer: we simply lack knowledge. We will always lack knowledge, we are finite. God is just–end of story.

Caddy quoted 3rdMill, "Besides these, Job expressed a belief in a physical afterlife (Job 19:25) as well as a belief in the existence of departed spirits (Job 26:5)."

Thanks for posting the 3rdMill article... I was probably using the wrong language earlier when I kept saying Job didn't appear to believe in an "afterlife." I probably should have said It doesn't seem to me that he belives in resurrection-type life. He does believe there are spirits in the watery abyss, sheol etc. I just don't yet see evidence that he thinks people come back.
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
C. Gorsuch, my apologies for the delayed response. Your point is well taken, and my quibbling over the word "sin" is probably too pedantic. If one simply defines sin as ἁμαρτία, "missing the mark," then I think we agree. But it seems to me that our English "sin" connotes a great deal more than that, and so I want to be careful about how I evaluate Job's moral state. I suppose that on one level such evaluation is a fruitless exercise in things we cannot know, i.e. the heart of a man. On the other hand, we can know Job by his actions: Here was a man who perfectly obeyed every aspect of his religion, and yet God afflicted him. I would argue that Job's demand for justice was only the next logical step that everything in his religion led him toward. I, for one, can hardly blame him, and so calling his actions sinful seems a bit strong. It seems to be the wrong word in English. Such pedantry aside, however, I think we do agree that Job's sufferings are a πάθη μάθος, a tragic "suffering into truth" that leads him (and hence us) toward a new paradigm for understanding his relationship with God.

As a corollary, our examination of Job segues nicely into a medieval scholastic debate: Are God's deeds just because they are God's deeds, or because they correspond to a "law of justice"? If the former, then anything God does to Job is automatically just; if the latter, then Job can appeal to the "law of justice." See William of Ockham.
 

ReformationArt

Puritan Board Freshman
I have been working through Job for a little while now, and am currently working on sermon #49 (I'm currently in chapter 38).

Job does understand that there is life after death, although he does not have as full an understanding of it as we do, because of his early point in the history of redemption. It is remarkable that though this is likely the earliest book written in Scripture, Job does grapple with the concept of the resurrection.

Job is ultimately a book about Christ. Job suffered because he was God's finest servant, who feared God and turned from evil (true wisdom). However, once you get to chapter 3, it is obvious that Job is not sinless. He does not curse God, however he does complain against God and curses the day of his birth and night of his conception.

However, Christ is the sinless servant who suffers hell to redeem His people. He is ultimate wisdom, in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and he suffered more than Job could ever imagine. Job suffered greatly in the body, but in Christ was freed from damnation.

It is clear from the text that Job is a historical figure. Though the familial and geographical designations are debated today regarding the main characters in the book, it is clear that the divinely inspired author included them to make clear to the readers who these men were, from where they came, and their familial relations.

The issue isn't why did Job suffer. The answer to that is easy, he suffered for God's glory, and ultimately God used the suffering for Job's good. Job's misconceptions (and those of his friends) were corrected by God during this trial. Job learned more of who God is and what it means to be his servant. When Job was Coram Deo, all anamosity, all questions, all discontentment fled away. He says in Job 42:3 "Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. "

That Job should suffer is no great mystery to us. Rather it is that Christ should suffer that is truly amazing!
 

weinhold

Puritan Board Freshman
Andrew,

Thanks for your reply. Given your extensive studies in Job (indicated by your link), I would be interested to know what specific textual evidence you employ to substantiate your reading. I realize that sounds like some sort of challenge, but it really isn't meant to be. I'd just like to hear from someone who's obviously spent hours of time carefully researching (probably in Hebrew given your education) this particular book, and you are that guy! So I consider it a tremendous opportunity to converse with you about my own quandaries.

- What is the qualitative difference between Elihu's advice and Job's other friends? i.e. Why does God praise him while the others are rebuked?

- Where (if at all) in Job do you see textual evidence of Job's proto-knowledge of the resurrection, evidence which exceeds the vagueness of Sheol? i.e. How do you see him grappling with the concept of the resurrection, as you put it? Is he grappling because the concept is absent from his religious tradition, but he nevertheless knows it must be true because of the many contradictions in his life? Like Camus' Absurd Man?

- I found it highly interesting that you notice a shift in chapter 3, where Job begins sinning. What textual evidence do you find that causes you to place the turning point in chapter 3, and where exactly in the chapter do you think that shift occurs?

Thanks, Andrew. I look forward to continuing the conversation, and Lord's blessings as you preach through this very important book.

PW
 

ReformationArt

Puritan Board Freshman
- What is the qualitative difference between Elihu's advice and Job's other friends? i.e. Why does God praise him while the others are rebuked?

One simple definition of wisdom is "knowledge applied." As has already been stated previously in this thread, Job's three friends had a great deal of knowledge. They had "truths." For instance, they believed that God punishes the wicked. However, they misapplied their true knowledge. They improperly reasoned backwards. They thought as follows: God punishes the wicked and causes them to suffer. Job is suffering greatly by God's hand. Therefore Job must be wicked.

The three friends employed an early version of the "health and wealth" gospel that has become quite popular (just watch TBN for 5 minutes). They believed that if you are righteous then you will receive material blessings. This is main theme that reoccurs throughout the speeches of the 3 friends. This especially comes out in chapter 11, which is why my sermon title for that chapter is "TBN 2000 BC".

Elihu, on the other hand does not mishandle the truth. He rebukes Job for seeking to justify himself rather than God (33:2) the three friends for bringing unsubstantiated accusations against Job (33:3). Both of these are correct. Job was interested only in vindication, in his good name, in his own restoration. He was not seeking God's glory in his suffering. In fact he took to making false accusations against God. The friends are concerned with condemning Job, and Job is concerned with defending himself. Elihu is jealous for God's glory, and points out Job's error directly in 33:8-13. He follows this with a description of great suffering and in v.29-30 shows the positive redemptive purposes of suffering. He reiterates this in 36:15-16, which is followed by a warning to flee from sin, from bringing accusations against God and charging him with wrongdoing 36:21-23, followed by a number of awesome statements of God's power and glory, that are foreshadowing God's own words in chapter 38. A striking statement that directly contradicts the assumptions of the 3 friends is found in 37:13, "Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it to happen." Elihu sees manifold purposes for suffering. As Elihu is speaking he is heralding the coming of the king. He speaks of the loud thunderings approaching and flashes of lightning as the Lord approaches from the distance, riding on the wings of the storm. The sky grows black with the storm, and the Lord arrives in 38:1 in the force of a tornado.

Interestingly the Lord makes no mention of Elihu, which is why some liberal commentators have wrongly thought that his speech is a later edition to the book. However, God's speeches in 38-41 repeat much of what Elihu says about God's power and glory revealed in his creation in 36-37. This shows ultimately that Elihu is God's messenger, sent much like John the Baptist to prepare for the coming of the Lord. He speaks the word of the Lord given to him, which is exactly what he says in 36:2-4, "I have yet something to say on God's behalf. I will get my knowledge from afar and ascribe righteousness to my Maker. For truly my words are not false; one who is perfect in knowledge is with you." Elihu isn't claiming perfection, however the Lord is present, God is the one who is perfect knowledge that Elihu refers to. So Elihu arrives suddenly in chapter 32, and disappears after chapter 37 and is never mentioned again. He has fulfilled his roll, he has spoken God's Word, and so he receives neither rebuke nor salutation.

- Where (if at all) in Job do you see textual evidence of Job's proto-knowledge of the resurrection, evidence which exceeds the vagueness of Sheol? i.e. How do you see him grappling with the concept of the resurrection, as you put it? Is he grappling because the concept is absent from his religious tradition, but he nevertheless knows it must be true because of the many contradictions in his life? Like Camus' Absurd Man?

Although Job speaks of death in a number of places, I will address specifically 14:7-17. Job is desperately seeking vindication, and yet he believes he will soon die. In fact, satan has beaten him to within an inch of his life, having received permission to cause him ultimate physical suffering, however given the command to keep him alive. So Job wonders how he can be vindicated if he dies soon and the Lord does not come, and in this pondering he hits directly upon the truth of the resurrection. He speaks of a tree that is cut down (killed), and yet sprouts up again at a later date. He envies the resurrection of the tree because it has the future hope (14:7-9). However Job has never seen a man come back to life. He says in v.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." He then makes a remarkable request of God. To hide him in sheol (death) for a time, and then appoint a time at a later date to remember Job and bring about his renewal (v.14). Job is asking to be raised from death to new life! Job is praying for what God has already ordained to give! Job is begging for what is clearly the gift of God in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.

However, this glimmer of hope quickly fades, and Job returns to his pessimistic ranting in 14:18-22. Job goes back and forth between hope and despair, he is wrestling with who God is in light of his own great suffering. However, God will settle those questions without a doubt in 38-42.

I found it highly interesting that you notice a shift in chapter 3, where Job begins sinning. What textual evidence do you find that causes you to place the turning point in chapter 3, and where exactly in the chapter do you think that shift occurs?

Job 3:1, "After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth."
This is a decisive turning point from the first two chapters. (My sermon on it is here if you're interested).The narrator has painting Job as an image of faithfulness, and God himself says to Satan, "there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil." (2:3)

Job responds with grace and faithfulness to losing all of his wealth, the death of his children, his body being pummeled by disease, and even his wife being used as a tool of the devil to tempt him (what satan predicts Job will do, his wife commands him to do, that is to curse God). However, after Job's initial response of faith, time is allowed to pass. There has been time for the word of this great disaster to spread throughout the surrounding lands, time for the message to reach the three friends in their lands, time for them to correspond with each other, to plan the journey, and then to come to see Job. Then they arrive and sit with him in silence for 7 days. Job is now living in torment. His own testimony of his suffering is given in 30:27-31 "27 My inward parts are in turmoil and never still; days of affliction come to meet me. 28 I go about darkened, but not by the sun; I stand up in the assembly and cry for help. 29 I am a brother of jackals and a companion of ostriches. 30 My skin turns black and falls from me, and my bones burn with heat. 31 My lyre is turned to mourning, and my pipe to the voice of those who weep. "

So, when he finally opens his mouth after a good deal of time has passed (we don't know how long exactly, but maybe several months), the first thing he utters is not a blessing as was the case in 1:21-22, "And he said, Naked I cam from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed by the name of the LORD. In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." We're told at this point that he did not sin. However, in 3:1, instead of blessing he utters a horrific curse.

Satan's claim in this trial are that Job will curse God to his face. Up until now Satan has failed miserably in his efforts to make this happen. However, Job now comes dangerously close to failure. He does sin as he curses God's providence in his life. He knows that God has brought him forth from the womb, and now he curses the day on which he was born and the night on which he was conceived in his mother's womb. Take the time to read the curse line by line and see the absolute loathing he has for his life. He wants to die, he wishes that had never been born. He says that he longs for death and digs for it more than for hidden treasures (3:21).

These aren't small nuances being pulled out from the text, but I believe these are all self-evident in the text if you take the time to study it with care.

I highly suggest you begin your further studies of Job by reading Conflict and Triumph by William Henry Green.

Unfortunately, I do not have a great deal of time to spend writing posts, and I've already spent over an hour on this one. So my answers in any future dialog will need to be much more brief, as my primary duties are to the body I've been called to here.

Grace and Peace,
Andrew
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
Although Job speaks of death in a number of places, I will address specifically 14:7-17. Job is desperately seeking vindication, and yet he believes he will soon die. In fact, satan has beaten him to within an inch of his life, having received permission to cause him ultimate physical suffering, however given the command to keep him alive. So Job wonders how he can be vindicated if he dies soon and the Lord does not come, and in this pondering he hits directly upon the truth of the resurrection. He speaks of a tree that is cut down (killed), and yet sprouts up again at a later date. He envies the resurrection of the tree because it has the future hope (14:7-9). However Job has never seen a man come back to life. He says in v.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." He then makes a remarkable request of God. To hide him in sheol (death) for a time, and then appoint a time at a later date to remember Job and bring about his renewal (v.14). Job is asking to be raised from death to new life! Job is praying for what God has already ordained to give! Job is begging for what is clearly the gift of God in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15.

Thanks for your interpretation of this passage in chapter 14. I think what you are saying makes sense, and I think this is definitely the best passage to make an argument for the idea of resurrection being present in the book. I appreciate your restraint–not saying Job believes in resurrection, but that he wishes something like it was true. I like your wording: He "envies" the idea. He has no "hope" for a resurrection, but the very fact that he would point out the contrast between the fact that humans have no hope but a tree does:

"He comes out like a flower and withers; he flees like a shadow and continues not... Since his days are determined... and you have appointed his limits that he cannot pass, look away from him and leave him alone, that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day. For there is hope for a tree... But a man dies... 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."

I think presenting it in the way you have accounts for all the talk in the book implying there being no resurrection, yet that is contrasted in this passage where Job wishes he could be like a tree. He has no hope in the resurrection but he longs for this idea that came to him while looking at nature.

Although I think that Job's argument is actually meant to "point out" to God that since humans are not raised, God needs to vindicate him before death. But along that road Job hits on something even better for a brief time.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
From Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening, January 10, evening

"In my flesh shall I see God."—Job 19:26.

MARK the subject of Job's devout anticipation "I shall see God." He does not say, "I shall see the saints"—though doubtless that will be untold felicity—but, "I shall see God." It is not—"I shall see the pearly gates, I shall behold the walls of jasper, I shall gaze upon the crowns of gold," but "I shall see God." This is the sum and substance of heaven, this is the joyful hope of all believers. It is their delight to see Him now in the ordinances by faith. They love to behold Him in communion and in prayer; but there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing "Him as He is," shall be made completely like Him. Likeness to God—what can we wish for more? And a sight of God—what can we desire better? Some read the passage, "Yet, I shall see God in my flesh," and find here an allusion to Christ, as the "Word made flesh," and that glorious beholding of Him which shall be the splendour of the latter days. Whether so or not it is certain that Christ shall be the object of our eternal vision; nor shall we ever want any joy beyond that of seeing Him. Think not that this will be a narrow sphere for the mind to dwell in. It is but one source of delight, but that source is infinite. All His attributes shall be subjects for contemplation, and as He is infinite under each aspect, there is no fear of exhaustion. His works, His gifts, His love to us, and His glory in all His purposes, and in all His actions, these shall make a theme which will be ever new. The patriarch looked forward to this sight of God as a personal enjoyment. "Whom mine eye shall behold, and not another." Take realizing views of heaven's bliss; think what it will be to you. "Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty." All earthly brightness fades and darkens as we gaze upon it, but here is a brightness which can never dim, a glory which can never fade—"I shall see God."

Meditation for This Evening by C. H. Spurgeon
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
MARK the subject of Job's devout anticipation "I shall see God." ...This is the sum and substance of heaven... there in heaven they shall have an open and unclouded vision, and thus seeing "Him as He is," shall be made completely like Him. Likeness to God—what can we wish for more? And a sight of God—what can we desire better?

I enjoy what Spurgeon says there, but I still don’t think that is what is meant by the verse in context. It appears to me to mean Job, at that particular point, believes that even though God’s vindication of him is delayed, and his skin is being destroyed, yet still God will vindicate him before he dies (as God told Satan: you can destroy his skin, but can’t take his life). That is what I think Job means by “see God.” I think he means he will see vindication by the supreme judge before he dies ("yet in my flesh") even though it is delayed. Look at what Job says later:

"Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty,
and why do those who know him never see his days?" (Job 24:1)

Which links seeing with judgment, and look at the criticism of Job later, which also links Job’s seeing of God with the fact that he has laid a case before God the judge who Job believes isn’t coming to the bench in a timely fashion:

"How much less when you say that you do not see him,
that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!" (Job 35:14)

And, interpreted in this way, Job really does see God, in "his flesh," before death. He is vindicated in the eyes of his friends at the end of the book.
 

danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
If the Book of Job is an allegory, and the author writes that God said something, and God did not really say it, doesn't that make what the writer writes a lie, thus the Book of Job a lie?
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
If the Book of Job is an allegory, and the author writes that God said something, and God did not really say it, doesn't that make what the writer writes a lie, thus the Book of Job a lie?

If it is always a lie for an author of scripture to say God did something that he didn’t actually do, then we would have a hard time with a number of things in scripture. For instance, Genesis presents God reasoning like a human and speaking to himself a number of times in ways that we commonly say are not actually true:

"And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’" (Gen 6:6-7)

Was God actually sorry and did he actually resolve because of being sorry to destroy his creation like the passage says? Or how about the following, where God smells something good and tells himself in his heart that he won’t curse the ground for humans again:

"when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.’” (Gen 8:21)

Calvin here says, “nothing can be more absurd... Moses here, according to his manner, invests God with a human character for the purpose of accommodating himself to the capacity of an ignorant people.”

Here’s another example: "in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’ ”" (Ex 31:17) Was God really refreshed after resting on the seventh day?

Or here is another example. The Ancient Near Easterners believed that the sky/heaven was a huge solid dome that kept the rain above heaven from destroying the earth and returning it to chaos. You can find this in Enuma Elish, Gilgamesh, etc.. This imagery is also used in a number of places in scripture, for instance in the book of Job: "Can you, like him, spread out the skies, hard as a cast metal mirror?" (Job 37:18). This hard metal thing was thought to be a firmament, which means “hammered out thing” which is imagery taken from how a human spreads out a sheet of metal. Above these hard heavens was thought to be water. In Genesis 1, God creates a firmament to keep that water off the earth. Then he called the hammered-out thing that was below that water “Heaven.” "God called the firmament Heaven" (Gen 1:7-8). This is necessary in their perception because of the water that was believed to be up there: "Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!" (Psa 148:2-4). Here’s what Calvin says in Genesis 1 about the ancient idea that there was water above heaven:

"It appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven... to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the world. He who would learn astronomy, and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. Here the Spirit of God would teach all men without exception... it is the book of the unlearned. The things, therefore, which he relates, serve as the garniture of that theater which he places before our eyes. Whence I conclude, that the waters here meant are such as the rude and unlearned may perceive. The assertion of some, that they embrace by faith what they have read concerning the waters above the heavens, notwithstanding their ignorance respecting them, is not in accordance with the design of Moses... We know, indeed that the rain is naturally produced."

So Calvin explains Moses as accommodating his language into an understanding of nature that the ignorant have. And I know Calvin doesn’t take this to mean God is therefore a liar.

As far as whether or not the book of Job is a literally true story or not, I don’t know. But if it isn’t historically or scientifically true in all its details (for instance, everyone speaking to each other in poetry. Or the same book stating that the sky is as “hard as cast metal”) I wouldn’t say it then necessarily followed that God is a liar, as you stated.
 

danmpem

Puritan Board Junior
As far as whether or not the book of Job is a literally true story or not, I don’t know. But if it isn’t historically or scientifically true in all its details (for instance, everyone speaking to each other in poetry. Or the same book stating that the sky is as “hard as cast metal”) I wouldn’t say it then necessarily followed that God is a liar, as you stated.

I apologize for sounding like I meant that God would be a liar; I will be more aware with my choice of words in future - and thank you for being patient with me. :)

I guess I was thinking aloud. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me that God would tell someone that he said something when in fact he did not. If someone wrote down that God said something, when God did not, doesn't that indicate that we have a problem somewhere along the line of transmission?

I'm not trying logistisize my theology; I'm just expressing my thoughts on this.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
The faith of the church up through the ages, and the clear statements of Scripture, affirm the historicity of Job.

Regarding the meaning of the texts, I prefer, again, the faith of the believing church over that of doubting critics.

The encroachments of doubt are insidious, worming their way into our minds and hearts. Jesus' words, "Take heed that no man deceive you," (Matt 24:4) have a wider application than only to false Christs.
 
Last edited:

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
The faith of the church up through the ages, and the clear statements of Scripture, affirm the historicity of Job.

Regarding the meaning of the texts, I prefer, again, the faith of the believing church over that of doubting critics.

The encroachments of doubt are insidious, worming their way into our minds and hearts. Jesus' words, "Take heed that no man deceive you," (Matt 24:4) have a wider application than only to false Christs.

Yes, but saying Job is a historical character and saying he went through these events is different that saying the poetic conversations in the book of Job which tell us this story are historical. Maybe I’m wrong to question whether these are the exact words historically used, but do they sound like anyone you’ve ever heard? Have you ever heard anyone actually have conversations in poetry before? I would assume not. But you’ve certainly read conversations in poetry before. That of course doesn’t prove these conversations didn’t happen in those exact words, but it does bring up at least the question of whether they happened in those words. I’d rather say I don’t know, and point out reasons I don’t know, than say I do know and be wrong.

The style of writing in Job is amazing, and helps draw us in and present the story in a way that is memorable, etc. God knows us, his children, and he knows the best ways to present his truth. Whether that is presenting true future evens using the style of apocalyptic imagery, or telling past events in poetry as the book of Psalms does or as the book of Job may be doing, the way of telling these events have their God-intended effect. When I tell my children Bible stories, the characters often didn’t literally say things in the way I say them. But I know my children, and I know how to speak in a way they understand. And the genre of “Children's Bible Story” involves interpretation of history and simplification. My elders at church also know their congregation, and they do the same thing. They will often preface what they are saying with “And then Moses said,” but the “quote” of Moses is actually an interpretation of the things Moses was saying. Nobody bats an eye, everyone naturally understands the genre of a sermon. God also knows his children, and he can present the book of Job in poetry if that is the best genre to convey the truth he is conveying.

You mentioned,
Regarding the meaning of the texts, I prefer, again, the faith of the believing church over that of doubting critics.


I assume (perhaps incorrectly) that you are referring to the fact that you posted a quote of Spurgeon who interprets certain passages as referring to the resurrection, and many other believers have historically interpreted these passages in Job the same way. I used to understand these passages in the same way as well. And I totally agree that we should be careful when we read a passage in a way that goes against a traditional interpretation of that passage. But: in the Reformed tradition we also understand that if the Bible interprets a passage for us in ways that go against our tradition, the tradition is what gets scrapped, not scripture. If this Reformed tradition of breaking with tradition didn’t exist, we’d probably be Roman Catholics. In response to your Spurgeon quote, I quoted passages of scripture within the same book which seemed to interpret what Job says in a way that goes against how tradition interprets it. Maybe I’m wrong and these passage are not speaking of the same thing. If so, respond by showing me how these are not examples of scripture interpreting scripture. It was hard to come to the point where I believed scripture went against my tradition in this area.

I guess I was thinking aloud. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me that God would tell someone that he said something when in fact he did not. If someone wrote down that God said something, when God did not, doesn't that indicate that we have a problem somewhere along the line of transmission?

Well here’s an extreme example: when we read of future events which are written in the style of apocalyptic literature we see God and others doing and saying things that we know will be true historically one day, yet we don’t assume way the things are not all told literally as they will really happen. Or in many cases, many of those events have happened, but we don’t now doubt the apocalyptic passages are historically true just because comparing passages with historical fulfillment we find that a apocalyptic passage doesn’t match the genre of written history. If Job is written in the genre of poetry, Job can still be historical without the conversations being forced into the genre of written history.
 

ReformationArt

Puritan Board Freshman
The Bible's wisdom literature presents these issues. However, in the same way that the Psalms are inspired poetry as David recounts historical events in his life and the proverbs are Spirit inspired, even if some might be adapted from the broader culture, so the book of Job in its poetic form is an inspired account of true events.

The poetry involved does not in any way detract from the voracity of the events. It does, however, add majestic beauty that in my opinion is unparalleled elsewhere in all literature.

The Lord delights in beauty, he delights in poetry, which is why he gave it to us! He did not give us the entirety of Scripture in the same form. Compare the history of Numbers to that of Job. It is not cause for doubt, but it is definitely cause for praise and glory!
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
k.seymore,

When you say, “As far as whether or not the book of Job is a literally true story….I don’t know,” you fly alien colors, meaning you do not take clear statements of Scripture meant as fact as fact. And what you say from thence on I consider as possibly suspect. It is odd to me that on a conservative Reformed board I find myself defending the historicity of Biblical characters deemed by both the Scripture’s self-attestation and the considered judgment of the believing church as historic personages.

I also think that at times the anthropomorphisms we attribute to God are a bit far-fetched. For instance, God being sorry (“repenteth” KJV) that He made man, and grieved at his wickedness. Can He not have feelings such as these? From these came His decree to destroy the most of mankind.

When He, in Gen 8:21, “smelled [the] sweet savour” of Noah’s sacrifice, yes, this may possibly be figurative of the “fragrance” of Noah’s godly motive, and also the prototypical Sacrifice foreshadowed by Noah’s, and, as Calvin says (a little further in the passage), “this piety breathed a good and sweet odour before God…” What Calvin found “absurd” was “that God should have been appeased by the filthy smoke of entrails, and of flesh.” This sacrifice was a type or symbol of something else.

You object as not literal or true that God after the six days of creation could rest, and be refreshed (Exod 31:17). Of course the Omnipotent One is ever fresh and vigorous (to speak in human terms), but what if His “refreshment” was in delight at His creation, and “rest” simply being the cessation of that labor?

Regarding your remarks on the imagery in Job 37:18, I shall simply bring a pertinent quote from Francis Andersen’s little (Tyndale) commentary on that book,

Since the sky seems firm and solid to a viewer on earth, the poetic comparison with a molten mirror should not be spoilt by introducing quarrels about its ‘scientific’ accuracy. The Hebrews were fully aware that the structure of the heavens was much more complex than that of an ‘inverted bowl’. (p. 267)​

We are often told that God does not have a body, and thus not an “ear” or “arm” or “eye” etc, that these are simply anthropomorphisms. I know that the Lord Jesus said “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24), and yet we see – in visions of the great Throne – in Daniel 7:9 and 13:

I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire…

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.​

In Revelation 4 and 5 we see again One seated on the throne, and giving to the Lamb the book sealed with seven seals – after whose image and likeness we, humankind, were created. These are not mere anthropomorphic “images” meant for us dense humans, but indicate some kind of reality. Yes, there are mysteries concerning the Godhead in these things we cannot in our present states comprehend, but I think you (and many others) go too far.

Addressing (once again – and I bring this in to show the view of the believing church) Job 19:26; I quote from Gleason Archer’s, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (1994, Moody):

A final word should be said concerning the divergent interpretations of Job 19:26. The KJV seems to indicate that Job entertained a hope of the resurrection of the body. There are, however, many critics who insist that the correct interpretation of the original Hebrew indicates no more than a vindication of the soul after death in a perfectly disembodied state; thus the RSV, “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, then without my flesh I shall see God.” (This is to be contrasted with the KJV: “Yet in my flesh I shall see God.”) Here the interpretation hinges upon the meaning of the preposition min, which sometimes does signify “without”; yet it is fair to say that in connection with the verb to see, (haza) min in its usage elsewhere almost always indicates the vantage point from which the observer looks. It is fair to conclude that a Hebrew listener would have understood this statement to mean, “and from the vantage point of my flesh, I shall see God.” (pp. 514, 515)​

I appreciate the Reformed approach to tradition, but to seek to move me from the traditional exegesis of this passage in the name of “Reformed hermeneutics” I find sophistical (though I do not believe this is intentional on your part). Tradition is this instance is sound.

You say – retreating a bit, it seems to me – “…saying Job is a historical character and saying he went through these events is different that saying the poetic conversations in the book of Job which tell us this story are historical....Have you ever heard anyone actually have conversations in poetry before? I would assume not.”

You err, actually. First, poetry in Hebrew is not to be confused with poetry in Western languages; they are very different. (Let me say at the outset, I do not know Hebrew, and my knowledge of its poetry is not firsthand.) I quote again from Francis Andersen’s commentary:

The rhymes and rhythms of the Hebrew original cannot be discussed in a commentary on an English translation, but fortunately the main features of Hebrew prosody are preserved in other versions. The structure of Hebrew verse survives translation (the more literal the better) because it depends mainly on the juxtaposition of ideas, on the balancing of one thought with another….The real interest in Hebrew poetry is found more in the ideas than in the sounds. (pp. 37, 38, 39)​

So we need not seek to liken the poetry in the speeches of Job and the others to what we think of as poetry in other languages. Second, and I speak as a poet, I have indeed heard conversations in poetry before, though perhaps not poetry as you may think of it. A book I had written quite some years ago, A Fire In The Lake, had in it a number of conversations literally recorded as part of the Poem (it was a short epic, comprised of sequences of small lyric poems*). I will not display examples of it here as it is mostly destroyed, and wouldn’t even if it weren’t, as it was a love story, with the conversations often containing erotic elements. (That part of my life is now dead.) My point, however, is that dramatic poetry can incorporate true speech which is actually spoken. I shall post a poem, of the “concrete” (or “visual”) school, as in some of the poems of Guillaume Apollinaire.

* Such as M.L. Rosenthal and Sally M. Gall talked of and examined in their work, The Modern Poetic Sequence: The Genius of Modern Poetry (Oxford Univ. Press, 1983).



Code:
                                                       Poetry
                                                                              






                   plain



                              as lightning

                         illuminates subtlety of reality
                   
                            ever so fine
                            as fine can be.

                            The human voice
                            in its essence
                            is, oh, poetry.


Whether this poem works for you or not (it is hard to duplicate its typography using vB code), there is a quality of speech that is so pure and essential it can fall into that category of language art called poetry, regardless of its being rhymed or not.

The poetry of the speeches in Job in the original Hebrew, therefore, may very well be exactly as it was spoken. I should add that in ancient, predominantly oral cultures, the speech of men was sometimes very carefully composed.

What you say of the apocalyptic genre is sound; we do not expect symbolic language to be literally true; however, I do not accept that Job – or the poetic speeches therein – constitute the genre of poetry and thus are not to be taken literally. Because they are poetry does not mean they were not spoken so, as I have endeavored to show above.

I appreciate your wanting to apply discerning literary judgment to this book that is unique in all the Bible, and comprised of many different genres and forms. It is that I must protest the unwarranted assumptions of a critical school that seeks to deconstruct the hermeneutical approach held to by the believing church. Remember what I said about the flag you flew concerning the historicity of Job himself; it indicates to me you have sailed in from alien territory. I do not believe there may not be a skull and crossbones hidden somewhere, perhaps even unknown to you. You know, of course, there is a warfare on. At times we may be enlisted on the wrong side, and not even know it.

I am sorry if I offend you with this, but at times – such as when the veracity of Scripture is impugned – it is not appropriate to keep one's sword sheathed.
 
Last edited:

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
k.seymore,

Just a little more on what you have written. I have already touched upon the poetic imagery of the “hard metal thing” you spoke of; but after which you said,

Above these hard heavens was thought to be water. In Genesis 1, God creates a firmament to keep that water off the earth. Then he called the hammered-out thing that was below that water “Heaven.” "God called the firmament Heaven" (Gen 1:7-8). This is necessary in their perception because of the water that was believed to be up there: "Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!" (Psa 148:2-4).​

You then quote Calvin as concluding, “…that the waters here meant are such as the rude and unlearned may perceive.”

A few comments: as regards Psalm 148:4, Derek Kidner in his little (Tyndale) commentary says, “The waters above the heavens are a poetic or popular term for the rain clouds; cf. Genesis 1:6-8.” (p.487, 488). In his commentary on the Genesis verses just mentioned, he says, “…we should speak probably of the enveloping vapours being raised clear of the ocean-surface…” (p…47).

Back to Genesis then; these “vapours” have given rise to much theorizing about what is meant by “…the waters which were above the firmament” (Gen 1:7). It is an ill turn of mind, to my view, which seeks regularly to posit, if not error, then “an understanding of nature that the ignorant have” if the Genesis account be taken literally. Yes, Calvin does it here, but not regularly, as you seem to.

Although Calvin, even these hundreds of years later, is still one of the finest expositors, he does occasionally flub, as I venture to say he does in this matter.

In their, The Genesis Flood, John Whitcomb and Henry Morris disagree that the amount of water in the Deluge could have come from rain alone:

A global rain continuing for forty days, as described in the Bible, would have required a completely different mechanism for its production than is available at the present day. If all the water in our present atmosphere were suddenly precipitated, it would only suffice to cover the ground to an average of less than two inches.* The process of evaporation could not have been effective during the rain, of course, since the atmosphere immediately above the earth was already at saturation level. The normal hydrologic cycle would, therefore, have been incapable of supplying the tremendous amounts of rain the Bible record describes. The implication seems to be that the antediluvian climatology and meteorology were much different from the present. There seems to have been an atmospheric source of water of an entirely different type and order of magnitude than now exists. (p. 121)

* C.S. Fox: Water (New York, Philosophical Library, 1952), p. xx. Recent measurements indicate the water in the atmosphere over the United States averages only ¾ inches. (Clayton H. Reitan: “Distribution of Precipitable Water Vapor over the Continental United States,” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Vol. 41, February 1960, p. 86).​

Elsewhere they posit the hypothesis that these waters above the heavens are a “vapor canopy”, and this gave a “greenhouse effect” which produced a lush and life-friendly climate, which accounted for the longevity and superior physical vitality of those living beings and plants in the antediluvian world. Many creation scientists agree with this theory, although Douglas F. Kelly, in his, Creation And Change: Genesis 1.1—2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms (Mentor, 1997) ISBN: 1857922832, brings other Bible-based scientific studies to bear which seem to refute the “canopy” hypothesis, and offer others (see pp. 181-185). I have not seen the response to this critique yet.

My point is, there are other approaches – taken by responsible science-oriented believers – than the knee-jerk skepticism which assumes the Bible cannot possibly be accurate if taken literally. To repeat, there are figures of speech which are clearly meant to be but figures and not taken literally, but to cast all difficult passages into this mold is neither accurate nor responsible exegesis.

E.J. Young, in one of his books on Genesis, In The Beginning: Genesis 1-3 and the Authority of Scripture (BOT, 1976), writes,

Is Genesis Poetry or Myth?

To escape from the plain factual statements of Genesis some Evangelicals are saying that the early chapters of Genesis are poetry or myth, by which they mean that they are not to be taken as straightforward accounts, and that the acceptance of such a view removes the difficulties. Some are prepared to say that the difficulties about the resurrection of Christ are removed at once if you say that the writers of the Gospels do not mean us to understand that a miracle occurred, and that they are simply giving us a poetic account to show that Christ lives on. To adopt such a view, they say, removes all troubles with modern science. But the truth is that, if you accept such beliefs and methods, you are abandoning the Christian faith. If you act thus with Genesis you are not facing up to the facts, and that is a cowardly thing for Evangelicals to do. Genesis is not poetry. There are poetical accounts of creation in the Bible—Psalm 104, and certain chapters in Job—and they differ completely from the first chapter of Genesis. Hebrew poetry has certain characteristics, and they are not found in the first chapter of Genesis. So the claim that Genesis one is poetry is no solution to the question. The man who says, ‘I believe that Genesis purports to be a historical account, but I do not believe that account’, is a far better interpreter of the Bible than the man who says, ‘I believe that Genesis is profoundly true, but it is poetry’. That latter has nothing to commend it at all. I disagree with the first man, but he is a better exegete, he is a better interpreter, because he is facing up to the facts. (pp. 18, 19)

It might be asked, why am I coming on so strong over matters such as these? Because I have seen subtle (and no-so-subtle) attacks on the veracity of Scripture – lately here in Job and in the creation account of Genesis – which may be powerfully destructive to young and formative spiritual minds. To wit:

“The relatively recent obsession with historical accuracy in Genesis among evangelicals is needless and ultimately unhelpful….Neither was I (or any human being) present at the historical event of creation, making it seem rather silly to demand historical accuracy of Genesis.”​

Under the guise of literary acumen and spiritual sophistication, doubt is being introduced into the record of God’s word to humankind. It should be clear what Jude meant when he said,

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write to you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (verse 3)​

And Paul in like manner speaks of this contending:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds,)

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ… (2 Cor 10:3-5)​
 
Last edited:

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
weinhold;


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.

Well, in reality, they are expendable, as they BELONG to God for HIS Use. He is the potter and we are the clay..the potter can use the clay for whatever He desires.

If it was to create them only to have them destroyed, then we should be looking at what God wants US to learn about Him, and even in not, we should still look to what God teaches us about Him through them.

When I read Job, I see that even my own life and the lives of my children are in His hands, and I have no control over when or how any of us will die..or what God desires us to go through while in this world, conforming us to His image.

We are not our own, and our children our not our possession's, they are blessings from God, for us to raise up on His behalf, training them in His way's,
so that they too can go out into this world He placed them and be prepared for their own calling and a witness for Himself..

But that's just a few things I get out of reading it..
 

BJClark

Puritan Board Doctor
Jerusalem Blade;


Under the guise of literary acumen and spiritual sophistication, doubt is being introduced into the record of God’s word to humankind.

Which is exactly what the serpent did in the Garden..he cast doubt on God's word, so even today, we can see He has NOT changed his tactics.
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
Jerusalem Blade said:
"When you say, 'As far as whether or not the book of Job is a literally true story….I don’t know,' you fly alien colors, meaning you do not take clear statements of Scripture meant as fact as fact. And what you say from thence on I consider as possibly suspect. It is odd to me that on a conservative Reformed board I find myself defending the historicity of Biblical characters deemed by both the Scripture’s self-attestation and the considered judgment of the believing church as historic personages."

Wow, first of all, thank you for such a detailed response! Perhaps if I have gone too far, thinking over the things you have said will reign my thinking in. Sorry if this ends up being extra long, yours was pretty long so I know my response will be longer.

If you'll notice, what I said was the book of Job, I didn't say Job wasn't a "historic personage." I said elsewhere that I believed a figure could be historical but could be written about in a different genre which isn't the genre of history. I compared this to apocalyptic literature which is a genre I do not consider literal but that can parallel true history. If Job is written in a genre other than history, we might question whether all the details are historical or scientific. Here is what I actually said which you quoted so disapprovingly above: "As far as whether or not the book of Job is a literally true story or not, I don’t know. But if it isn’t historically or scientifically true in all its details... I wouldn’t say it then necessarily followed that God is a liar." This is in response to Danmpem, who had wondered if the proof that Job wasn't an allegory might be found in the fact that if God, through the author of Job, says God does something that he really doesn't do, wouldn't that make God a liar? Now if God is a liar, that would cause us to doubt. We wouldn't be able to trust him. There may very well be ways to prove that Job is not written in a genre other than straight history, but is Danpem's proof one of them? I tested it in my brain. Forget the book of Job, I tested this: if God says he does something he doesn't actually do, does that make God a liar? Is that a valid way to prove God is a liar and should be doubted? To know why I answered the way I did, I have to jump back in my own history.

What was my first experience with God saying something that doesn't appear to actually be true? When did I first struggle with this? What passage in scripture was hard to face? As a child, on one of my first attempts to read through scripture from beginning to end, I very quickly came upon this verse: "And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart" (Gen 6:6). I don't know if you can remember the first time you read that verse or not, but for someone who has learned a bit about God and the Bible in sunday school, It first hits you like a school bully punching you in the face on a cold winter day and trying to take your lunch money.

Many years later, theology comes to the rescue. The Westminster Confession says:

"Chapter Two. Of God and the Holy Trinity. SECTION I. There is but one only, living, and true God, who is infinite in being and perfection, a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions; immutable..."

And A. A. Hodge's commentary on the Confession tells me what that means:

"When the Scriptures, in condescension to our weakness, express the fact that God hears by saying that he has an ear, or that he exerts power by attributing to him a hand, they evidently speak metaphorically, because in the case of men spiritual faculties are exercised through bodily organs. And when they speak of his repenting, of his being grieved, or jealous, they use metaphorical language also, teaching us that he acts toward us as a man would when agitated by such passions."

Ahhhh! Reformed theologians to the rescue. I dug out my childhood question and began to realize that scripture can say God can do things that God doesn't actually do, and I don't then have to doubt the scripture. The Westminster tells me God is: "without body, parts [the heart mentioned in Gen 6], or passions [The grieving and sorrow mentioned in Gen 6]; immutable... [the changing of God's mind in Gen 6]"

I can't express the amount of relief this brought me, it explains so many difficult passages of scripture. I got into reading Calvin and he uses this thinking all the time, and it is so helpful to me, explaining things so simply:

"God is described to us humanly... Because our weakness cannot reach his height, any description which we receive of him must be lowered to our capacity in order to be intelligible. And the mode of lowering is to represent him not as he really is, but as we conceive of him. Though he is incapable of every feeling of perturbation, he declares that he is angry with the wicked. Wherefore, as when we hear that God is angry, we ought not to imagine that there is any emotion in him, but ought rather to consider the mode of speech accommodated to our sense, God appearing to us like one inflamed and irritated..." [Institutes]

"If the will of God be one, it does not hence follow that he does not accommodate himself to men, and put on a character foreign to himself, as much as a regard for our salvation will bear or require... 'I will not execute the fury of my wrath': by which figurative mode of speaking he sets forth the punishment which was suitable to the sins of men. For it must ever be remembered, that God is exempt from every passion. But if no anger is to be supposed by us to be in God, what does he mean by the fury of his wrath? Even the relation between his nature and our innate or natural sins. But why does Scripture say that God is angry? Even because we imagine him to be so according to the perception of the flesh" [Commentaries Hos 11:8-9]

You are right when you used the image of pirates to explain people who terrorize believers with doubt, but I am not willing to give up freedoms I have in order to combat terrorists. The freedom Reformed Theology brought me in the examples above are freedoms I will not give up to combat the terrorism of unbelievers. So when Denmpen wondered whether the "truth" that God can't say he does something that he doesn't actually do would prove that the book of Job is not allegorical, my childhood pops into mind. Although the book of Job may very well be actual literal history and the conversations may be word for word as you said, I don't think the proof he was wondering about would be the way to prove it. I think if we tried to do that we would be giving up something: the Bible does, as Calvin, Hodge, and the Confession says above, say God does things that he doesn't actually do.

You yourself are willing to say–because I answered Danmpem as I did–I may be a pirate in disgise terrorizing believers:

Jerusalem Blade said:
"you have sailed in from alien territory. I do not believe there may not be a skull and crossbones hidden somewhere, perhaps even unknown to you. You know, of course, there is a warfare on. At times we may be enlisted on the wrong side, and not even know it."

Now I'll jump back to your first argument in your post criticizing what I said:

Jerusalem Blade said:
"I also think that at times the anthropomorphisms we attribute to God are a bit far-fetched. For instance, God being sorry (“repenteth” KJV) that He made man, and grieved at his wickedness. Can He not have feelings such as these? From these came His decree to destroy the most of mankind."

Though I am not willing to give up what Calvin and the Confessions say to combat the terroism you spoke of, do you see how it sounds like you are taking an exception to the Westminster Confession here and giving up doctrines to respond to the quotes of Calvin I had posted in order to combat what you perceive as terrorism? Do you see how, if I were to give up these doctrines I would be back were I started when I first was faced with some of the hard ways scripture talks about God? If you take exception to the Westminster Confession on 2.1 regarding the impassibility of God, that is fine. I must say I too have occasionally questioned this myself in the past, but I always come back around to agreeing with it (and enjoying the benefits of that understanding as I posted above). If you've been convinced that this is a Reformed tradition that is in error, I understand that you went through a hard process to come to that disagreement. But I don't think stating your break with tradition would be useful in a defense against someone else's break with tradition about the literary genre of the book of Job (mine). We may very well both be wrong, but I don't think I have said anything in this thread that goes against the Confession. Perhaps I have and didn't notice it, but from what I can tell, my problem appears to be that I said "I don't know." I don't know if the book of Job is in the literary genre of written history. You say you know that it is, but the first thing you state when you begin to make your case against me is to state a disagreement you have with the Confession!?

If I would have said "Yes, that does prove it" in regard to the question Danmpem asked, but then lets say someone read that "proof" and thought it an unassailable argument, and then later came to the conclusion that scripture does speak of God doing things that it elsewhere says he doesn't do, couldn't that also cause doubt if one formerly believed that this would prove God a liar (which is the way I had understood Denmpen's question)? I was raised Dispensational, son of a Dispensational Pastor and I know how much of a struggle people have when they begin to find out that, say, the apocalyptic genre is not necessarily literal, yet it is still true, and can parallel historical events. I knew people who thought salvation hinged on pretrib belief in what they also called "clear statements of scripture" that were "meant as fact." When one starts discovering, through scripture, that some of those beliefs don't hold up, there can easily be doubt until some understanding comes in to fill the place of those previous beliefs. Often discovering the beautiful genre of Apocalyptic writing fills in the place of the earlier wooden literalism.

I know that you said, "I do not accept that Job – or the poetic speeches therein – constitute the genre of poetry" but to me the book is not so clear as to genre. I may come to your conclusion some day, but for now I still have to say "I don't know." For instance, the Reformation Study Bible says of its genre, "Compositions similar to the Book of Job appear in Mesopotamian and Egyptian sources from Old Testament times. One, 'A Dialogue About Human Misery' is about a counselor who criticizes a sufferer for his impiety while the sufferer struggles over the character of the gods. The literary format of Job is not unique among the documents of the ancient Near East, consisting of a prose prologue, a poetic dialog, and finally a prose epilogue." And, "God used a skillful poet from the covenant community to write this book." The Reformation Study Bible is, on the other hand, also careful to say Job was historical and there is a chance the poet who wrote the book had some original sources: "The probability is that the poet used sources from patriarchal time, including some from Job himself, in composing the book." But it also understands the influence the poet would have within the genre, for instance: "3:1-27:23 In three cycles of speeches, the writer explores human perspectives on Job's suffering" and "28:1-28 The new form of ch. 28 indicates that the disputation or dialog is over. Now a new type of wisdom literature is presented: the standard wisdom like that of the Book of Proverbs. The author of Job reflects on the lack of wisdom displayed so far in the dialog... the poem ends with the answer to the question asked in the refrain, 'Where can wisdom be found?'" and "30:1-15 ...These verses are a good example of the discursive style of the poet."

Another thing regarding genre: I looked up the beginning of Job in a number of reformed commentaries that I had here, and each of them begin by asking whether Job was a historical figure or not. Then they went outside the Book of Job to other passages of scripture to prove that Job was a historical person. Why do they do this? Isn't it paritally because everyone recognizes that the book has qualities which make it hard to tell exactly what genre it is?

Jerusalem Blade said:
Regarding your remarks on the imagery in Job 37:18, I shall simply bring a pertinent quote from Francis Andersen’s little (Tyndale) commentary on that book,
"Since the sky seems firm and solid to a viewer on earth, the poetic comparison with a molten mirror should not be spoilt by introducing quarrels about its ‘scientific’ accuracy. The Hebrews were fully aware that the structure of the heavens was much more complex than that of an ‘inverted bowl’. (p. 267)"

Yes. As I had quoted Calvin on Genesis 1 regarding the water above heaven (remember heaven is what God names the "firm"ament, and what Job here calls hard as metal), the descriptions of nature here in Job also are not necessarily scientific. And Francis Anderson explains this as being due to the fact that the genre here isn't scientific writing... Anderson in the quote you used explains that the genre in the passage is poetry. He recognizes that it is referring to the belief of the ancients in the hard inverted bowl, but he explains this non-scientific view as being due to the genre of the passage.

You later brought up the Water Canopy Hypothesis which seems odd to me since you already used the quote from Francis Andersen who appears to know that the ancients thought the sky was hard and dome shaped and explained Job saying the sky was hard isn't scientific. Yet the Water Canopy Hypothesis is an alternate way of explaining passages in scripture that speak of water above the firmament. And you also quoted Derek Kidner who has another theory different than the Water Canopy which explains the waters above the firmament as simply a poetic way of referring to rain clouds. To insinuate that I might cause doubt in others on this particular issue seems strange to me when 1) I was quoting Calvin 2) What I said agrees with Andersen which you yourself quoted, 3) I love reading translations of Ancient Near Eastern texts and the ancients around Israel really did think the sky was hard and kept the water from pouring down on the earth 4) that the ancients spoke of the sky as being hard and keeping the water from destroying it is not a hypothesis 5) to get around scripture using language like the people around them, you quote three contradictory interpretations of the same thing in scripture, including a hypothesis, etc. Instead of getting on to me about saying "I don't know" regarding the book of Job, and then giving three different explanations for a certain type of language in scripture, why don't you yourself just say, "I don't know" what the passages in scripture which seem to speak of the heavens as being hard with water over them are referring to? Like I said about the book of Job.

Oddly enough, let's say someone read your words about the Water Canopy and took this Hypothesis as truth. I certainly did as a child. I remember watching a video at church speaking of the Water Canopy and I bought it. I told many of my friends it was proof of the truth of the scriptures. There was evidence of it, as the video said. There was proof! Scriptures are true! But later creationists started rejecting the Water Canopy, and even now Answers in Genesis has the Water Canopy on their "Arguments That We Think Creationists Should Not Use" under the "Arguments are doubtful, hence, inadvisable to use" section. Now which do you think would cause more doubt about scripture with my friends: 1) Me telling them there was proof for a Water Canopy which later is called a "doubtful" interpretation. or 2) simply telling them it is proven that many of the ancients spoke of the sky as being hard with water above it paritally because of the seemingly unending supply of rain that they experienced, similar to how we experience the sun as rising, even though that is merely in our perception and not scientific. The ancient used language like we do. I think telling them #2 is less doubtful than #1. I wish I had never told my friends that the evidence for the water canopy proved the scriptures. I wish I had never seen that video. It should have tipped me off to this questionable intperpretation when I read that scripture speaks of the heaven as hard and having windows in it which God can open to let the water down through heaven! Even if they really thought of the firmament as not actually being hard, why would they figuratively speak of it as needing windows? Perhaps they would if they also figuratively spoke of it as being hard like metal that was hammered out!

On other passages of scripture we all have no problem with saying, "oh, that's just how the ancients talked about these things, they aren't saying these things are literal truth." For instance in Job 55:7 says "the sons of Resheph fly upward" (in the Hebrew) to prove that "man is born to trouble." The Reformation Study Bible here says, "Resheph was the God of pestilence, lightning and destruction." So here the hebrew is using the language of mythology to speak of natural things, again having no problem not using the language of science. In Job 7:12 the Reformation Study Bible also says Job is referring to the god Yam: "This is poetic language for the god Yam (Sea)." Yam is the Sea "dragon" which is the somewhat equivalent to the sea monster in Enuma Elish which is the waters over the heavens which the god Marduk kills, uses part of its body as a dome-like firmament to keep its waters out, then sets up guards to watch the water. Another version of this is Job 19:13, where the Reformation Study Bible says "Rahab is the Semitic sea monster." Or in Job 18:14 the Reformation Study Bible explains why one of Job's friends speaks of death as he does because "The Canaanites understood death as a god whose one lip touched the earth and the other the heavens..." When Job describes God creating the world, the Reformation Study Bible that this doesn't teach "the science of space or weather" and explains that it also refers to God ruling "the supposed dominion of Yamm" and also refers to the "mystical Canaanite monster." Job here speaks of the heavens (that he speaks of as being a hard firmament) and the waters over them using the mythical language similar to Marduk slaying the dragon to create the hard bowl that is the heavens: "By his wind the heavens were made fair; his hand pierced the fleeing serpent." (Job 26:13)" In Enuma Elish, the god Marduk blows air into the water dragon's mouth and fills it up like a balloon, then he pierces it dividing it in half. The inside of it's body is described as hard like a seashell, and is the heavens (firmament), within which Marduk places the stars and the sun. The waters are above the heavens, beyond the stars. I could go on, but I don't have to. I'm sure you would agree that these not being used literally, but why, when scripture uses the same type of language elsewhere, why should there be literal scientific explanations sought out? Ones that might be refered to as doubtful?

Anyways, all that to simply point out that scripture really does say God did things that he didn't actually do. And the book of Job, in poetic language, speaks of God doing things he didn't actually do, but use mythology and poetry, etc.. So I hope this proves to you that what Danmpem thought of, that if the book of Job says God does things he didn't actually do that would make God a liar, is false.

Now on to what you said about whether or not Job believes in the Resurrection...


Jerusalem Blade said:
Addressing (once again – and I bring this in to show the view of the believing church) Job 19:26; I quote from Gleason Archer’s, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (1994, Moody):
A final word should be said concerning the divergent interpretations of Job 19:26. The KJV seems to indicate that Job entertained a hope of the resurrection of the body. There are, however, many critics who insist that the correct interpretation of the original Hebrew indicates no more than a vindication of the soul after death in a perfectly disembodied state; thus the RSV, “And after my skin has been thus destroyed, then without my flesh I shall see God.” (This is to be contrasted with the KJV: “Yet in my flesh I shall see God.”) Here the interpretation hinges upon the meaning of the preposition min, which sometimes does signify “without”; yet it is fair to say that in connection with the verb to see, (haza) min in its usage elsewhere almost always indicates the vantage point from which the observer looks. It is fair to conclude that a Hebrew listener would have understood this statement to mean, “and from the vantage point of my flesh, I shall see God.” (pp. 514, 515)
I appreciate the Reformed approach to tradition, but to seek to move me from the traditional exegesis of this passage in the name of “Reformed hermeneutics” I find sophistical (though I do not believe this is intentional on your part). Tradition is this instance is sound.

If you will notice, I too was understanding the passage to mean Job would see God in his flesh, as Gleason translated it. Translating it as "without" would totally go against how I was reading it, and the way I was reading it (the traditional "in my flesh") makes much more sense to me in the context of the book. The way I read it seems to make sense of many of the other thing that are said through the book, and leads right into a perfect resolution of the Job's story at the end. And one note, when I say that I think Job didn't seem to know about the resurrection, all I mean is that that hadn't been revealed to him, he simply didn't have that knowledge.

In the beginning we are told that God has allowed Satan to destroy Job's skin, but Job's life must be spared. So the "loathsome sores" come, and Job longs for death. Except for there is one problem. God doesn't appear to want him to die quite yet for some reason, and Job recognizes it. God still gives him the "light" of life: "Why is light given to him who is in misery, and life to the bitter in soul, who long for death, but it comes not?" (Job 3:20-21). Job knows he will eventually die, but at times he wishes it would come sooner rather than later. And within the things that Job believes about death, we find out that he doesn't seem to believe in a resurrection. The light of life becomes the darkness of death from which Job believes no one ever returns:

"Are not my days few? Then cease, and leave me alone, that I may find a little cheer before I go—and I shall not return—to the land of darkness... where light is as thick darkness" (Job 10:20-22).

Job explains what he means, and longs that, since he believes that humans have no hope because they don't return from death, God would open his eyes and vindicate him before he dies and leave him alone to enjoy the days he has left:

"Man who is born of a woman is few of days... And do you open your eyes on such a one and bring me into judgment with you? ...Since his days are determined... look away from him and leave him alone, that he may enjoy, like a hired hand, his day."

Job continues by emphasizing the hopelessness that he believes that humans have by contrasting it with the hope that a tree has. Job emphasizes this so that God will leave him alone, because humans don't have the hope a tree does:

“For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. Though its root grow old in the earth, and its stump die in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put out branches like a young plant.

But a man dies and is laid low; man breathes his last, and where is he? As waters fail from a lake and a river wastes away and dries up, 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" (Job 14:1-12).

Job wishes he could have the same hope that a tree does, and be resurrected with life, but he says he doesn't. He believes that even till "the heavens are no more" this will never happen. So he hopes God will vindicate him before death and let him live out the last of his days in peace. He goes on again to long for God, the judge, to quickly vindicate him before his dies and never returns:

"my eye pours out tears to God, that he would argue the case of a man with God, as a son of man does with his neighbor. For when a few years have come I shall go the way from which I shall not return." (Job 16:20-22)

So Job believes that once he can argue his case with God, then God will stop tormenting him with suffering, and he will be able to live the rest of his life in peace. Above can see that he recognizes that God is not killing him and he believes he is going to live out the rest of the years of his life, "for when a few years have come, I shall..." And as with the earlier context, Job emphasizes how short life is so that God will vindicate him sooner rather than later. So Job recognizes through his experience a little bit of the prologue of the book. He knows God is allowing his exterior to waste away, but he knows God is keeping him alive.

So then we get to chapter 19. Job seems to repeat his current understanding that he is escaping death, but God is allowing part of him to waste away: "My bones stick to my skin and to my flesh, and I have escaped by the skin of my teeth!" (job 19) That is, Job is experiencing what Satan demanded: "Skin for skin!" Yet Job's life has been spared, as God demanded: "I have escaped," Job says. So then right after saying that he is wasting away but his life is being spared, Job says,

"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."

Now in the context of what comes earlier, it sounds to me like Job is saying he believes that once the destruction of his skin is finished, but before he dies, someone will stand up for him before God the judge, God will relent, and Job will live out the rest of his days in peace. And this is exactly how the book resolves! But don't take my word for this interpretation of Job 19. One of Job's friends will later interpret what Job says for us.

Shortly after Job says that he will see God in the verse above, he tells us he longs to see God soon. And what does he mean by that? He means he wants God to come soon as righteous Judge, he doesn't know why it is taking so long:

"Why are not times of judgment kept by the Almighty, and why do those who know him never see his days?" (Job 24:1).

Shortly thereafter, Elihu pops us with a speech for Job, and he also understands Job as referring to God the judge's coming to judge when Job speaks about seeing God: "you say that you do not see him, that the case is before him, and you are waiting for him!" (Job 35:14).

But that is nothing compared to Elihu, in the same speech, interpreting what Job meant by "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." And here is Elihu's interpretation. As Elihu speaks of 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.’"

To "redeem from death" in the book of Job means, as can be seen above as well as at a number of other places in the book (for instance 5:20), to deliver someone from dying, not deliver someone who is dead. It means to deliver someone whose "soul draws near the pit" and from "those who bring death." It means, as the passage above shows, "deliver him from going down to the pit" not deliver someone who is in the pit already by resurrecting them. And then Job could cry out what Elihu also said, "He has redeemed my soul from going down into the pit, and my life shall look upon the light." Notice that– "light" again. We've come full circle to Job's statements in his first speech when he longed for death and looked to "darkness" instead of the "light" of "life" but God wouldn't give it. Knowing he wouldn't die, Job longed to be delivered. And now we see, exactly as Job said, in the end of the book, after Job's skin had been destroyed, but while Job was still in the flesh, God the judge really does come.

Now after God the judge appears, here's what Job says: "now my eye sees you" (Job 42:5). And then God proceeds to vindicate him in the eyes of his friends. And then, in an ironic twist on the "my redeemer lives," Job, the very one that had just been redeemed from his suffering, is told to be a mediator for his friends (like the angel redeemer Elihu had mentioned) or else they will not be forgiven:

"Go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly" (Job 42:8).

I know that, as you said, this is not the traditional way of reading the passage about a "redeemer". But it seems to me that the book interprets the passage for us. If God's intended meaning of the passage really is what Elihu interprets the passage as, then you aren't just telling me I am wrong. You are also saying Elihu is wrong. And the author is wrong, etc..

Scripture is very clear that Christ was raised, and clear that we will be too. The new testament makes this particlarily clear. But if, in light of this fact of resurrection, Christians have searched the Old Testament for other proofs of resurrection and have occasionally wrenched verses out of their context to use as proof texts, I feel we should always carefully read the context and correct ourselves when necessary. If resurrection was not God's intended meaning in the passage in Job, then forcing scripture to say something it doesn't really say to make a case for resurrection to someone using that passage could easily lead to doubt when they find out that it isn't true. It is using false evidence. It makes one a false witness. And it could easily cause doubt. But, hey, I may be wrong in my interpretation, and if so, please show me.
 
Last edited:

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
k.seymore,

I owe you an apology – no, I ask your forgiveness – for saying you come from an “alien” place and fly “alien colors” with perhaps a “skull and crossbones” hid somewhere. I have wronged you in this, and I am sorry. These things I have said of you are not true!

In my “zeal” I have taken your doubts about the literalness of the account of Job (with its poetry and figures) for the historicity of his person.

And I have overstepped myself in another area as well: regarding anthropomorphisms. You quote Calvin (in Hosea) as saying, “For it must ever be remembered, that God is exempt from every passion.” It almost sounds as if it is being said He is without feelings, and this cannot be. Packer in Knowing God says this, “God has no passions – this does not mean He is unfeeling (impassive), or that there is nothing in Him that corresponds to emotions and affections in us…”, but that whereas human passions are often involuntary and unstable, “the corresponding attitudes in God have the nature of deliberate, voluntary choices, and therefore are not of the same order as human passions at all.” Of course the omniscient One does not change His mind, but He changes His modes of dealing with us, and, as you say, says it in ways we can comprehend.

If we say that His wrath or His love or His compassion are but likened unto passions we humans feel, but that in truth He does not have these feelings, I do not accept that. And yet….

I have spent the afternoon with Stephen Charnock, and I now see that my remarks about the images of God on His throne in Daniel 7 and Revelation 4 & 5 are not sound or true. I confess to speaking ignorantly. If God – the invisible, infinite Spirit – has chosen to make Himself apparent to humans, this does not mean that He has a body or form of any kind (including a spiritual body or form), save in His condescending to reveal Himself to us. The Westminster Confession you quoted is true, and I false.

You are no pirate, k.seymore, and I have been tilting at windmills! You have shown yourself much more gracious and in accord with the Spirit of our Lord than I, and I appreciate your graciousness in your response to me!

Regarding the “vapor canopy,” I quoted that and other approaches to show there were other approaches than discounting the statement of “waters above” in Genesis 1. The quote from The Genesis Flood about the rain still shows that “antediluvian climatology and meteorology were much different from the present.” To show differing approaches to an unsettled matter gives no cause for doubt. If I had not given a caveat regarding the canopy and it was refuted, then I might have caused doubt.

I perceive you know the Book of Job better than I do. That does not mean I agree with your view of Job and resurrection; it means I have to study more. I have been shown wrong in other areas; I need to know when to shut my mouth. Perhaps I will get back to you on this when I have learned more.

But I do thank you for your gentleness in the face of my boorishness. Love edifies.

I will be traveling out of the country soon (going to the U.S.), and need to prepare, so I won’t be very active here at PB for a while, and in light of the above it is good I take a break.
 

k.seymore

Puritan Board Freshman
I owe you an apology – no, I ask your forgiveness – for saying you come from an “alien” place and fly “alien colors” with perhaps a “skull and crossbones” hid somewhere. I have wronged you in this, and I am sorry. These things I have said of you are not true!

I have spent the afternoon with Stephen Charnock, and I now see that my remarks about the images of God on His throne in Daniel 7 and Revelation 4 & 5 are not sound or true. I confess to speaking ignorantly. If God – the invisible, infinite Spirit – has chosen to make Himself apparent to humans, this does not mean that He has a body or form of any kind (including a spiritual body or form), save in His condescending to reveal Himself to us. The Westminster Confession you quoted is true, and I false.

You are no pirate, k.seymore, and I have been tilting at windmills! You have shown yourself much more gracious and in accord with the Spirit of our Lord than I, and I appreciate your graciousness in your response to me!


You are far too kind, I realize I may still be wrong. But no need to apologize, I realize your cannons were aimed at true unbelief, I just happened to be standing in the line of fire. My post was just me jumping out of the way to avoid being hit.


In my “zeal” I have taken your doubts about the literalness of the account of Job (with its poetry and figures) for the historicity of his person.

And I have overstepped myself in another area as well: regarding anthropomorphisms. You quote Calvin (in Hosea) as saying, “For it must ever be remembered, that God is exempt from every passion.” It almost sounds as if it is being said He is without feelings, and this cannot be. Packer in Knowing God says this, “God has no passions – this does not mean He is unfeeling (impassive), or that there is nothing in Him that corresponds to emotions and affections in us…”, but that whereas human passions are often involuntary and unstable, “the corresponding attitudes in God have the nature of deliberate, voluntary choices, and therefore are not of the same order as human passions at all.” Of course the omniscient One does not change His mind, but He changes His modes of dealing with us, and, as you say, says it in ways we can comprehend.

If we say that His wrath or His love or His compassion are but likened unto passions we humans feel, but that in truth He does not have these feelings, I do not accept that. And yet….


I have a hard time using a word so bound to sensory perception to literally discribe it ("feelings"). But that said, I do believe that feelings in humans are analogous to the very things in God that scripture uses this language to explain. So we truly are, by scriptural example, free to discribe God as God describes himself. I was careful to use a quote of Calvin where he mentioned this. When he spoke of God's "wrath" and said, "if no anger is to be supposed by us to be in God, what does he mean by the fury of his wrath? Even the relation between his nature and our innate or natural sins." So although I might word it a little differently, I think I agree with what you are getting at.

God Bless :)
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top