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The Book of Job - Essay Example

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The Book of Job

This dramatic form also allows the wisdom it seeks to impart to take work dialectically on the reader. I will argue that the wisdom imparted by the Book of Job does not, as it is often argued, support the notion of a moral universe; one that is just but whose justice man can never hope to know. That God appears to Job in the conclusion seems to point against the idea that the author of Job wishes us to understand God as unknowable. Equally, I do not believe that the Book supports a notion of a moral or just God. Quite the opposite, in fact, as it seems to reject the premise that God can be seen in the realm of justice at all. As such, the Lord does not provide an answer to Job's complaint (certainly not in the judicial senses of these words) but merely a rebuff to the notion that he might be called to answer. Equally, Job's repentance is not one based on a greater understanding of the moral framework of his punishment, but merely a bowing to the ultimate power of the Lord's might.
Before we analyze the Lord's speeches in the latter part of the book, we must first characterize precisely what Job is complaining of. Job, by his own account, was a pillar of the community he "went to the gate of the city / and took my seat in the public square, / the young men saw me and stepped aside / and the old men rose to their feet" (29:7-8). Job knew the things that were expected of him by virtue and by his God, and he has performed them with diligence and care (see his description in Chapter 31). We are even told that it was considered by the Lord himself that there "is no-one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." Indeed, it is precisely Job's inherent goodness that leads him to be singled out for the painful wrath that Satan1, with the Lord's express approval, rains down upon his head. As such, Job's complaint, though it is modulated throughout the thirty or so chapters that take up the central part of the Book, is simply this: I am innocent, so why has the Lord treated me so badly
These are precisely the terms on which the debate between Job and his three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite, take place. Job says is that he is innocent of crimes, therefore he should not be punished. He goes further and seems to suggest that there must be some mistake on the Lord's part, that if he were able to bring his case before the Lord, "he would not press charges against me" (23:6). Job even reaches the extreme (much to his friends amazement and fear) of suggesting that the Lord has absented the realms of justice entirely, "surely God lives, who has denied me justice" (27:2). Though his three friends argue against Job, they do so from the same standpoint, i.e. the Lord's punishment would only be just if he punished the wicked. However, they work from the opposite direction; assuming that the Lord must be just, and therefore, if he is punishing Job, Job must be worthy of punishment. They take the inverse view of the relationship of just punishment to sinful behavior - if a man is as afflicted as Job then "Surely such is the dwelling of an evil man; / such is the place of one who knows not God." There is some evidence in the text that, at the time of writing, this conception of divine justice was the prevalent one. Job even says to his friends admonishments, "Who does not know all these things"
I will argue that the Lord's answer to Job overturns such a conception. To ...Show more

Summary

In the Book of Job a pious Jewish man is punished by the Lord despite not having sinned, speaks to three friends of his ruin and its injustice and, in the final chapters of the Book, comes face to face with the Lord speaking “out of the storm”…
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The Book of Job essay example
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