Thursday, June 30, 2016

It's beyond that even!

“Nothing earthly is able to envision appropriately God, resulting in the paradox that the God of the Old Testament is not invisible, but is also unconceivable” [“Reicht nichts Weltliches aus, Gott zu vergegenwärtigen, so ergibt sich das Paradox, dass der Gott des Alten Testaments zwar nicht unsichtbar, aber auch nicht vorstellbar ist”], W. H. Schmidt, A. Graupner, and H. Delkurt, Die Zehn Gebote im Rahmen alttestamentlicher Ethik (EdF 281; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1993) 73.— Job's Journey, page 55 n. 1

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Entitlement thinking

Job does make one theological mistake, however: from his own high ethical standing, he concludes that he is entitled to a certain treatment by God. This conclusion is presumptuous on two levels. For one—this is what Job’s friends tried to show—even the best of lives falls short of the radical demands of God’s holiness and remains dependent on God’s grace. Second, Job’s arguments imply that he did not act righteously for the sake of righteousness but only with the silent expectation that he was entitled to some kind of reward. In this manner, his ethical reflection turns into hypocritical sin; it mutates into boastful pride. God reacts to Job’s ambitions of demanding his happiness on the basis of what he supposedly deserves with silence and contributes to the counseling of Job with wordless judgment.— Job's Journey, page 54 (emphasis original)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Ignore the text, then

The concept that God educates human beings through suffering, that Job’s illness is a constructive didactic measure, has moved to the center of much recent scholarship on Job. Yet there is much that speaks against advocating such pedagogy of suffering. Even if the Greek proverb that opens Goethe’s autobiography states that only a tried and tested individual can become a truly educated individual, the idea that God deliberately brings about suffering so that certain individuals may grow in maturity is more masochistic than sarcastic, nor is it justified by the text.— Job's Journey, page 36

<idle musing>
<sarcasm>Well, then just import it via your theology. Don't let the text get in your way! </sarcasm>

I know, when you state it that baldly, it's obvious, right? But how often do we import assumptions into our exegesis? Right. Continually. That's why we need the inbreaking power of the Holy Spirit, continually knocking down our presuppositions, expanding our horizons, and generally making us uncomfortable with our present interpretations of pet scriptures and pet doctrines. Semper reformandum, as the Reformers said (some say it actually goes back to Augustine [reference, please, before I believe it]). Continually being reformed; I agree, and would go further, continually being made anew, experiencing more completely the new person I am (and you are) in Christ.
</idle musing>

Monday, June 27, 2016

To whom do you speak?

The frequent passages in which Job addresses God as “you” (see 7:12–21; 9:28– 32; 10:2–18; 13:22–27; 14:13–20) are of high theological importance. This is exactly what Job is praised for in the end. Human beings can and should voice their lament to God.— Job's Journey, page 30

<idle musing>
I agree whole-heartedly! Addressing God is the beginning of theology : )
</idle musing>

Friday, June 24, 2016

Lament

As much as the idea of disputare de deo is rejected, the book of Job continues to advocate a form of speech transformed through suffering: lament as speech to God. Instead of speculation about God, the book advocates existential and authentic speech to God.— Job's Journey, page 25 n. 83

<idle musing>
Note the pronouns! about God, versus to God. That's huge! You can whine to God—the prophets do it all the time! Or you can whine about God, like the Israelites did in the wilderness with devastating results.

It's all a matter of the heart...
</idle musing>

Too true

From the ASOR Program Abstracts:
If a terracotta figurine has a head, however schematically rendered, combined with a pair of circular protrusions, however small, or widely or narrowly spaced, and wherever located on a fictive torso, however flat or oddly shaped, we are, apparently, culturally conditioned to see a female in spite of the fact that the form has no real feminine qualities, no curves or marked genitalia.
<idle musing>
Yep, and everything we don't understand is a cult object, too... (as Jim Eisenbraun quipped to me)
</idle musing>

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Theology or Pseudo-Theology?

The book of Job does not promote silence about God because we cannot say anything about him. Otherwise, this book would never have been written. But the book of Job does bid farewell to certain types of theology—and we do not have to bemoan their loss: theology as the wisdom of the world projected into heaven; theology as pious reflection on a higher being that then mistakes traditional or innovative ideas about God entirely for God himself; theology that purports to communicate direct revelation from God. The book of Job distrusts and disbelieves all this to its core. Instead, it states clearly that this is not God; these are only graven images. Such fundamental criticism of all pseudo-theology is—and here we can only agree with the book of Job—not the end but the very beginning of theology.— Job's Journey, pages 24–25 (emphasis original)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

God is...

Within the context of the Hebrew Bible, the book of Job thus primarily contradicts the God of justice as presented by the prophets: God, as Job shows us, can destroy us without reason. It also contradicts the merciful God of Priestly literature: we must accept God not only as the present God; he is also the absent God. Finally, the book of Job also provides, in some of its parts, a parody on the piety of the Psalms: Job’s situation transcends the options for reaching God provided by the Psalms.

For the book of Job, God is not just or merciful, yet he is also not unjust or cruel; instead God is—God. In the context of these various biblical positions, this statement is more than mere tautology, it is a critical position all its own. It is a striking statement, because it shows us that speaking of God was no easier in antiquity, with its mythically charged worldview, than it is for modern times.— Job's Journey, page 24

<idle musing>
Amen and amen! Maybe the primary reason for including Job in the canon was to let people know that God is bigger than our concepts of him?
</idle musing>