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Is Suffering Evidence of Wrongdoing?


The Book of Job
from the old testament, written in Hebrew
My first question: why is Job pronounced Jobe?

one of the great classics of world literature
addresses the question of why the innocent suffer and the wicked get away with it
five parts: prologue, symposium, speeches of Elihu, nature poems, epilogue
may have been written to challenge the doctrine that people are rewarded/punished based on their merits

prologue = the first two chapters
prob based on older folktale in which Yahweh and Satan make a bet
Satan: no one serves Yahweh except for selfish reasons
Yahweh counters with an example: Job, a righteous man who "fears God and shuns evil"
Job is pious, have 7 sons 3 daughters, is wealthy
Yahweh lets Satan test Job: take away his possessions
has wind knock down firstborn's house and kill many family
Job doesn't strike out at Yahweh, instead he shaves his head, rends his clothing, and says:
"Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return: Lord has given, and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of Lord"
Satan isn't satisfied, asks God's permission to torment him some more
God says "Behold, he is in your hand, but don't touch his life."
Satan smites him with terrible boils, Job sits in ashes and scratches at his boils with pottery
Job's wife urges him to "curse God and die" to stop the suffering
translation of "curse" could be "bless" or "kneel before" nobody knows for sure
Job answers, "You speak as one of the foolish speaks. Moreover, shall we receive good from God and shall not receive evil?"
Three friends: Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite come to visit
the wear sackcloth and sit in ashes for 7 days, silently

symposium = consisting of speeches by Job and by each of his three friends
different story
first speech: finally Job curses the day that he was born, life is not worthwhile when subjected to injustice
Eliphaz: righteous people do not suffer; only the wicked are tormented
Job's accusation that Yahweh is injust is "unreasonable"
Eliphaz argues that in God's sight, no human being is righteous, we're all sinners
Bildad says that God does not pervert justice; neither does he ever act unrighteously
Zophar thinks God isn't punishing Job enough because Yahweh is just and merciful and Job is an ingrate
all Job's friends berate him that he must have done something wrong to deserve this
Job replies to each, challenges all his accusers to point out any evil deed he has done
if his failure is simply from being mortal, it's not his fault

another round of speeches
Eliphaz and Bildad speak
Job's final reply is a masterful defense of his own position ending with "The words of Job are ended."
this was probably the original ending of the work, the rest may have been added later

Elihu tries to find another justification for Job's suffering
he admits that the arguments made by the others have been refuted by Job
perhaps the suffering is a warning so that he won't sin
then all old arguments

nature poems
presented as speeches by Yahweh, addressed to Job
about the wonders and grandeur of the universe
contrasts the glory of God with the inferiority of humans
proclaims the freedom of God over his creation, that he can do whatever he likes
without need for approval from subjects
they don't answer his question

epilogue = the last chapter of the book
Job repents
acknowledges the justice of Yahweh and repents for all that he said in his own defense
Yahweh makes it up to Job by giving his stuff back, 2x
gets to live another 140 years after the ordeal
has more kids, his daughters the most beautiful in the land
sort of supports Satan's position

Carl Gustav Jung wrote an Answer to Job
place God in the Unconscious
Jung has Kantian roots
the Unconscious, esp the Collective Unconscious
belongs to Kantian things-in-themselves, or to the transcendent Will of Schopenhauer

SOURCES
http://www.cliffsnotes.com/study_guide/literature/Old-Testament-of-the-Bible-Summary-and-Analysis-Job.id-103,pageNum-53.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Job
http://www.friesian.com/jung.htm

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
liveonearth
Sep. 26th, 2010 04:23 am (UTC)
Modern Christian thought: why Quinn prays for Hitchens
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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