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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Job 38-39

So, no one responds to Elihu, after ranting against Job from chapter 32 through chapter 37.  Significantly more space than God takes Godself to do essentially the same thing.  Elihu's accusation against Job toward the middle of his speech, "hablas mucho y no sabes lo que dices," seems like it may apply more to Elihu than Job.

That takes us to Chapter 38-41, wherein God answers Job, sort of.  It is an epic rant, and was surely fun for the oral presenters to perform. 

«¿Quién es este, que oscurece mi consejo
    con palabras carentes de sentido?
Prepárate a hacerme frente;
    yo voy a interrogarte, y tú me responderás.
 »¿Dónde estabas cuando puse las bases de la tierra?
    ¡Dímelo, si de veras sabes tanto!

# # #

 “Who is this that obscures my plans
    with words without knowledge?
 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.

Okay.  Job's question is why is God punishing me when I am innocent, right?  Let's talk about what God did not say.  God does not say that Job is culpable.  God does not say that Job deserves it; nor, does God say that he was testing Job or allowing the Adversary to test Job.  God says, who are you to ask such questions of Me, the Almighty, Todopoderoso.

It's not comforting, but perhaps there is some pretty deep truth in it.  Whether you are dealing with an ancient universe that gave birth to space and time, beyond & before which there is not before nor beyond, or Todopoderoso, we cannot possibly expect to understand fully its/His workings.  Huh.

Also, I note that God's Rant is full of sarcasm, which seems interesting for an ancient text, although maybe it shouldn't.  And, finally, the use of "angels" for "sons of God" comes up again. Job 38:7.  I think this translation is somewhere between the Divinci Code and recognizing that Jonah was swallowed by a big fish not a whale.  It's more than trivia.  It seems like an important clue to the religion that predated radical monotheism and is kind of a bummer the translators choose to hide it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Job 35-37

"If you sin, how does that affect him? If your sins are many, what does that do to him?/Si pecas, ¿en qué afectas a Dios? Si multiplicas tus faltas, ¿en qué lo dañas?"  Job 35:6.

This is a pretty interesting theological question.  Frankly, I think it has the potential to entirely undermine the notion of supernatural theism.  It is one of several theological questions that I think are raised in Job.  I think the theme of co-creation that is present in the first chapters of Genesis makes sense with God's being impacted by Job's actions giving rise naturally to process theology.

What is kind of weird to me, now that we've heard from all of Job's terrestrial opponents, is why has no one mentioned either the Adversary or God's testing Job as explanations for Job's suffering?  These would be two popular answers today.  Were then answer then, and are just omitted for theatrical purposes?  That certainly could be.  It would kind of ruin the story for someone to say, "Duh, God has obviously allowed the Satan to test you.  Hang in there, buddy; you'll probably get everything back in some made up chapter at the end."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Job 32-34

Job's three friends have given up, but now a kid jumps into the act.  His character is that Young Republican/first year college kid who knows everything and is amazed at how stupid his elders are.

He makes the same arguments as his elders, though.  He says that Job is arrogant and he can't believe people are not calling him out.  He is angry.  He is also wrong.

I've been angry.  I've been angry a lot recently.  I wonder if I've been wrong.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Job 29-31

As we continue to hear from Job, it occurs to me that this book has much, much more to do with social justice than I realized.  I have typically seen it only as a warning that bad things happen to good people, which probably wouldn't take 42 chapters to say.  However, I think it is very interesting to read an ancient text where the main character is so clear that he doesn't deserve this because he has been good to the poor.  

Consider this list of sins he insists he has not committed

[31:1 Not a lech]
Yo había convenido con mis ojos
    no mirar con lujuria a ninguna mujer.  

[31:13 Not a bad boss]
Si me negué a hacerles justicia
    a mis siervos y a mis siervas
    cuando tuvieron queja contra mí

[31:24 Not money obsessed]
¿Acaso he puesto en el oro mi confianza,
    o le he dicho al oro puro: “En ti confío”?

These sins seem pretty subtle and modern.  

Interesting Note: Best biblical euphemism I've come across so far:

Si por alguna mujer me he dejado seducir,
    si a las puertas de mi prójimo he estado al acecho,
10 ¡que mi esposa muela el grano de otro hombre,

If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or 
if I have lurked at my neighbor's door, 
then may my wife grind another man's grain.

Job 31:9-10.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Job 24-28

"¡pero Dios ni se da por enterado!/But God charges no one with wrongdoing."  Job 24:12.

Job's list of horribleness that goes unpunished in chapter 24 strikes me as a general social grievance against mistreatment of the poor, rather than a manifestation of individual suffering.  It concludes with the verse above.  He begins the passage by using the "Todopoderoso/Almighty" to identify God.  (P.S. it is interesting how reading Almighty in another language focusing me on the meaning of the phrase and the emphasis on Power.)  It takes me back to an earlier verse, that I underlined but forgot to include in that day's entry, "¿Quién es el Todopoderoso, para que le sirvamos?/Who is the Almighty that we should serve him?"  Job 21:15.  Big questions.

Interesting Note: It is fun how your brain will find things that are not there.  Here's another passage that seems to point to Jesus.  "¿Cómo puede alegar pureza quien ha nacido de mujer?/How can one born of woman be pure?"  Job 25:4.  I sincerely think this passage and the earlier one have as much to do with Jesus as the Man-in-Moon is an intentionally created face.  I point them out to keep myself alert for when my overactive pattern seeking rears it head in less obvious situations.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Job 21-23

"Con todo, no logran acallarme las tinieblas/Yet I am not silenced by the darkness."  Job 23:17.

First, I just love this verse.  It kind of gave me chills and spoke to me the way holy books can do sometimes.

The back and forth does not exactly become more constructive, but Job has now made it clear that he is tired of arguing with people who don't know his business.  Meanwhile, his friends move from saying generally that God punishes the wicked to you, Job, must have committed lots of sins.  We have a bit of foreshadowing as Job calls out God.  Job can't find God, he says, but "El, en cambio, conoce mis caminos/But he knows the way that I take."  Job 23:10.

Interesting Note: In the Spanish translation, Job 22:30 reads, "El salva al que es inocente," but in English the same verse begins, "He will deliver even one who is not innocent."  The Spanish translation offers a footnote providing an alternate translation, "El salva al que es culpable."  Literally contradictory potential translations--although the English provision of "even" tries to fix it up.  Also, noteworthy that only the Spanish translators even indicate the decision that had to be made.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Job 17-20

"Tu has ofuscado su pensamiento, por eso no dejaras que triunfen/You have closed their minds to understanding; therefore you will not let them triumph."  Job 17:4

The discourse in Job has devolved into talking past each other, which frankly sounds not so unlike political "conversation" in our world today.  Job reiterates that God did this to him, and that no matter what they think it is not his fault.  Job's friends have resorted to, "Look, we don't know what you did, but God punishes the wicked," with the unspoken, "you're being punished so you must be wicked."

It is interesting to me that much of Job's lamentation in this section is reserved for being abandoned by his friends.  I can see that as a source of pain, but in comparison to your kids dying?  Also, I feel like at Job 19:23-24 things get a little meta.  Job cries out:

¡Ah, si fueran grabadas mis palabras,
    si quedaran escritas en un libro!
24 ¡Si para siempre quedaran sobre la roca,
    grabadas con cincel en una placa de plomo!


23 “Oh, that my words were recorded,
    that they were written on a scroll,
24 that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
    or engraved in rock forever!"

Feels like the bits in Don Quixote when Cervantes has his characters talking about their position in the story.

Interesting Note: The view of the afterlife revealed by Job seems at odds with modern Christian views.  Job longs to die and just go to the realm of darkness.  See, e.g., Job 19:13-16.