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Saturday, January 07, 2017

Job 14-16

"Valiente consuelo el de todos ustedes!/you are miserable comforters, all of you!"  Job 16:2.

It appears at this point, Job is giving zero cares about the feels of his frenemies.  He is even playing the card we hear in politics so often: This would be completely different if things were reversed.  He says that if they were suffering his mouth would offer words of comfort not blame.

Job's friends, meanwhile, have resorted to absurd arguments like, no one is perfect.  True enough.  No one is perfect, but are they really suggesting--they are btw--that Job may have deserved to have all of his children killed because of some tiny sin that none of them can identify?

It is easy to focus on how dumb Job's friends are.  It is also important to read Job as a response to the idea--primarily focused at the people of Israel as a whole not individuals--that if you walk in the way of the Lord you'll be blessed.  But it is less clear to me what affirmative lesson one can derive from Job.

It does not seem to be the case that his faith provides him comfort in his time of need. Rather, it pisses him off that he knows (1) he did nothing wrong and (2) it is total BS that God is letting/causing his calamities.  If someone was grieving and he or she said, "What did God cause this?"  I wouldn't say, "you probably sinned or something," but I also wouldn't say, "sometimes God lets Satan walk the Earth and test your faith," either.  Finally, I would not say --SPOILER ALERT-- "who the hell are you to question God," which turns out to be the moral of this story.

The Spanish isn't the only thing that is tricky about this whole Bible reading business.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Job 10-13

There is an expression--I think--that is "the faith of Job/el fe de Job" (or as google translate prefers, "el fe de trababjo").  That is, a recognition that throughout his trials and tribulations, Job never loses faith in God.  He is upset that his is being mistreated the whole time.  I've experienced this with our legal system when I feel that my case is so strong that it befuddles me when a judge rules against me.  The reason I am upset is precisely because I continue to have faith in the system.

Chapters 10-13 are about the Confidence of Job/la Confienza de Job.  In response to his friends, who may be his enemies/enemigas, he states that not only is he upright and blameless/recto y intachable, but he says ask the birds and the fish and the animals.  You cannot find something against me.  This is interesting in the context of seemingly inexplicable tragedy.  Would most of us have the confidence of Job that we did nothing to bring it on ourselves? I think not.

As a result of his confidence Job is able to not that "Lo que el derriba, nadie lo levanta/What he tears down cannot be rebuilt," in reference to God. Job 13:14. Then goes on to say that God can deceive leaders and the wise.  He identification of God's destructive power, not necessarily directed toward Israel's enemies (this story being set before Israel) is interesting.

Text note:  Is this sarcasm:  "Doubtless you are the only people who matter, and wisdom will die with you!"  Job 12:2 (capturing Job's response to Zophar)

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Job 6-9

This is some intense story telling.  It occurs to me, if you omitted the bits about God and the Adversary--with whom, btw, I notice God uses the familiar tu, rather than usted--how would we read Job.  Would the intensity of Job's anguish be sufficient for the reader to understand he truly is blameless (intachable)?

The completeness of his anguish is captured for me when he laments that he would hope for some relief in his bed, but, "even then you frighten me with dreams and terrify me with visions/aun alli me infundes miedo en mis suenos; me aterras con visiones!"  Job 7:14.  Have never experienced anything like the grief Job experiences, I nonetheless find it ring true that he oscillates from "Therefore I will not keep silent/Per lo que a mi toca, no guardare silencio" to "Since I am already found guilty, why should I struggle in vain/Y ya qe me tienen por culpable, para que voy a luchar en vano?"  Job 7:11, 9:29.

Interesting note: Even as academically illegitimate as such readings are, I couldn't help but notice Job's lament, "If only there were someone to mediate between us [and God], someone to bring us together." Job 9:33.  I am betting that more than one evangelical sermon has been preached on that verse as foreshadowing the coming of Christ.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Job 1-5

My reading plan is the "chronological" plan, which means it attempts to take me through the Bible in the order of the events--not the historical order of when they were written, or the traditional order in which the passages have been collected.  Because the book of Job takes place in the land of Uz, we set it before Abram leaving the region.

From a literary standpoint, it actually works pretty well to make this transition.  The first 11 books of Genesis are very clearly myth that, like Job, could not ever have been intended to be related to "actual" events on the planet Earth.  Once we get to Abram, the story is likely not historical in the way a modern reader views the word, but I think is at least set as relating to events that transpire in a particular time and place.

The main thrust of job, in chapters 1-5 and frankly through out the book, is that co-creators or not, God is the Boss.  Seemingly at the whim of the adversary, satan in Hebrew, God allow calamities to fall upon Job, up to and including the death of his children.  Then Jobs friend talks about how God blesses the good, frees the captives, etc.  I can't help but wonder how those who suffer must feel when we read similar scriptures from Isaiah.  Although plainly a story, in the Book of Job, things get real.

And interesting component of Job is the conversation between Satan and God and the sons of God.  The NIV translates these to angels.  Um, okay.  But the word is sons of God, and that term is used in Genesis to describe the people knocking boots with the Earth girls, in response to which God limited human life to 120 years.  Religion evolves, and evidence of pretty radical evolution exists in our Bible.  That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Genesis 8-11

Well, things get a little ugly, but the power of humanity remains a theme.  Having just destroyed life on the Earth using a deluge, "diluvio," God welcomes Noah and his sons, and their wives, back to dry land with this promise:  The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth/Todos los animales de la tierra sentiran temor y respecto ante ustedes.  Gen. 9:2.  Ick.  Then, after really concluding the pre-Abram narrative from Noah, we pop in the story of Babel, in which God causes people to have different languages because if we speak the same language "nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them/todo lo que se propogan lo podrian longrar."  Gen. 11:6.

These passages are icky primarily because they give rise to two serious problems in our world today.  One, disregard for the environment because we have "dominion" over it.  Two, fear of science because God doesn't like it if we act like Gods.

Interest note: I just realized today that Semite means descendants of Shem, or as it is written in my Spanish translation, Sem.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Genesis 4-7

The cooperation between God and humans continues.  After being cast out of the Garden of Eden, Eve gives birth to a son, and she says, "With the help of the LORD, I have brought forth a man."  Gen. 4:1.  The passage makes clear that "Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant."  So, Eve's reference to the help of the LORD is not a Mother Mary type situation.  Note, the Spanish version says, "Con la ayuda del SENOR, he tenido un hijo varon!" I think that bringing forth a "man" and bringing forth a "son," are not the same thing.  Bringing forth a man sounds like some God did just a few paragraphs before.  Bringing forth a son sounds like something Eve was cursed to have to do.  Gen. 3:16.  

Also, in the story of Noah, we have the neat detail that after everyone was in the Arc, "Then the Lord shut him in."/"Luego el SENOR cerro la puerta del arca."

Interesting passage from this section is at the top of Chapter 6.  As humans were populating the earth, "the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose."  Gen. 6:2.  Evidently this was once again threatening to make humans immortal, because God said, "My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years."  Gen. 6:3.  Um. Okay.  And that's not even getting into the Giants.  For me, this is a weird fragment of an older religion with a Hebrew pantheon that has been lost.  I'm not sure what literalists do with it.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Genesis 1-3

Having just finished my reading of Genesis 1-3 in English & Spanish, I am struck by one word: agency.  Even in the first story, the water gathers, the land produces, and of course humans have dominion and responsibilities.  It seems this now radical idea of co-creating with God has been around for a while.

The neat quote comes from 3:22.  "El ser humano ha llegado a ser como de nosotros." (The man has now become like us.")  Who is this "nosotros/us" of whom God speaks?