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Job and Religion At Its Best

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image of Biblical Interpretation

This essay takes seriously (1) the non-Israelite provenance of every character in Job; (2) the shift in the use of general appellations of God in the dialogues to the one of the Tetragrammaton in the final theophany; and (3) the common error on the part of every protagonist of deducing from the natural order a principle of retributive justice in the social and moral world. It is here suggested that these elements create a framework of (onto)logical theism that is broken by the intervention of YHWH, of whom Job previously had only an intuition, when Job discovered that the retributive justice principle of wisdom could not be maintained on the basis of his experience. But if indeed everything is not following cosmic laws, but depends upon dialogical relations, then God is shown vulnerable and expecting as much from Job as Job is expecting from God. As for Job, innocent as he was in the light of justice, he realizes that he is guilty in the light of love. Hence, the whole book pivots around the fundamental question at the beginning: "Is it for nought ... ?"

Affiliations: 1: Chicago Theological Seminary


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