The lesson studies on Job are over, and there’s a new quarter beginning, but some scenes from Job just keep echoing in my head. Reading the endless discussions between Job and his friends is a little like reading a play. A very wordy dark comedy, perhaps.
Job echoes the Book of Moses.
God playing Quid Pro Quo.
God to Man: "You make Me happy, and I will give you Rain, Lots of crops and Food.
Your animals will be Many, and they will be Fat. I will give you a lot of other nice things."
God to Man: "You ignore me, and I will give you dry, dusty fields, your Food supply
will be non-existant. Your animals will be few, and they will be thin. I will take away
ALL of the nice things I gave you."
We also hear this Echo through the rest of the writings.
We hear it Echoed even today. The Prosperity Gospels.
We hear it Echoed even today in Seventh day Adventist services on Sabbath.
Mal 3:10 – Bring in the TITHE and THEN I will bless you with abundance.
“Faith remains when Understanding Fails” – is what I think the Story is actually saying.
Strange playfulness. I wonder if Job and his wife would see that way? All their children, spouses, grandchildren, friends and servants gathered at that house—all dead. All at once, in a few moments of sheer terror as their house blew down on top of them.
Second thought. The context appears to me to be in pre-Mosaic times or pre-Abrahamic. More likely post Eden style of worship. When claimed to have not sinned he recounted social responsibilities to his servants, widows and strangers. He did not boast in Sabbath observance, circumcision, clean or unclean foods or commandment keeping. Religion was simple: Do good to others and pray for them. Know that God will bless you if you do good and curse you as in the Flood if you fail to treat others good, which they called “sin.” After Job they had a new doctrine: bad things happen to those who do good as those who “sin,” all send from the hand of God.
I fully agree with Mary Christian that the book is “like a play.” In my comments to one of the lessons last quarter I suggested that the dialogues and the words of the narrator were full of irony. My conclusion was that the author intended to teach that all our images of God and how God works are not to be taken too seriously because to do that would result in idolatry. The playful way in which this essay suggests “God the Satirist,” however, makes me think that there is something to it. After all, satire and irony are not too far apart.
I, for one, am not willing to flog this text in a, so far, futile attempt to rationalise every iota of (supposed) revelation of the character of God. The very fact that the best “brains” in the SDA church, or even in Christendom, can offer no convincing explanation of the, apparently, split personality of our creator should spur more research into the motives of the “ancient IBSEN” who penned this tale. I suspect, however, that more focused scrutiny could unearth awkward questions for Biblical literalists. As one born in an Adventist family and one who was a fundamentalist/literalist SS Quarterly through early teenage I was flooded with rationales for literalist positions, but even then I could not understand the JOB text , presented as an important part of my religious culture. It is clear that Western Christianity (pre-or -post Luther) has no answers to many human phenomena. The most amazing records of human spiritual achievement I have come across is the story of the African religious leader Simeon Toko as recorded by American Journalist Tom Dark in Nexus magazine. Toko is alleged to have completely baffled the top hierarchy of the RCC, including Pope John 23rd , even though it is on frecord that RCC priests survived the Hiroshima atomic explosion when others around were dead or dying, by saying the Rosary and calling on the blessed mother for help. Toko was chopped to pieces by thugs working for the Portugese colonialists , and according to Dark, he revived himself. He was minced to pieces under a reaper by Portugese foremen and even while they were high-fiving the event To resurrected himself causing them to flee calling him a God. The POpe sent emissaries to ask him if he was an incarnation of Jesus. while there the dictator Salazar ordered that Toko be taken up in an Air Force plane and dumped in the Atlantic. The RCC priests were asked to be on the plane to offer prayers to counter TOKO. When the assassins rose to throw Toko out Toko rose and ordered the plane to stop in mid flight.The assassins fell ton the knees and begged for their lives. Lastly, Tom Dark relates in his NEXUS article that some European doctors under guise of doing a checkup removed Toko’s heart to examine it . Toko, bleeding profusely sat up on the table and asked "Why are you persecuting me so Give me back my pump?"If true there has never been a case like this in human history. Toko had decided to be a Baptist and had thousands of followers. He even had a "pentecostal night where people 25 miles away claimed to be able to hear what was going on.He did not waste time speculating why he was so persecuted as Job did. At the very least, a man of God as Job claimed to be in the text should not have been baffled by suffering and adversity , but should have been able to heal himself , thereby demonstrating that righteousness is greater than following a sinful pathway. That makes the text flawed and indulging in useless mystique and fear mongering in my opinion. I now am leaning to the view that a true man of God can conquer death and suffering to show others a lesson by so doing. When Toko decided to die, One of his assassins, A Commander of high rank, pushed his way to the front of the church , apologised, and declared that he did not believe Toko was dead.
I just saw the movie The Daughter, a retelling of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, and I thought “Job.” This article is very interesting and I agree with the comparison between the play and the biblical book. I was raised well versed in the bible, and studied literature in University, and I think that many people today forget how immersed Ibsen’s contemporaries were in biblical stories and Christian culture. Yes, there were different beliefs about the correct interpretation of the bible and over who should be interpreting it, and some people rejected Christianity in cultures that were still mostly Christian, but everyone who was watching Ibsen’s play would have been familiar with any biblical comparisons one could draw. Thank you for your article.