The Let's Play Archive

God of War

by kalonZombie

Part 13: Night10194 talks a bit about Job from a rather interesting Bible/ Christianity derail the thread had (and I silently encouraged).

Bobbin Threadbare posted:

My favorite book of the Old Testament is Job. Job's story takes up the first couple chapters, and then all the rest of it is a long philosophical discussion between Job and his friends as to why all the terrible things in the world happened to him. His friends figure, "Well, you must have done something to piss God off, why else would all this happen?" Job's response is, "I didn't do a damn thing, I was a good Jew, I made all my sacrifices, I observed the Sabbath, I did everything right. Shit just happens sometimes."

Then at the end, God comes down in person to verbally smack Job's friends upside the head and say, "Job is right, shit does just happen sometimes. You don't even know all the shit I do. Now stop second-guessing Me! Job, you're alright. Here's all your shit back."

And then Job got all his shit back, and it was good.

Job also did more than make all his own sacrifices; he actually sacrificed and prayed extra to try to protect his children in case they accidentally sinned (that went really well for them when they became collateral in the divine experiment to discover if disinterested piety exists, considering they all died horribly and instantly). He is, in every way, shown to be the exemplar of all that should be considered moral in his society and his exceptional wealth and success would have been considered entirely reasonable by the likely audience. I'd recommend, if you're interested in Job, Carol Newsom's Job: A Contest of Moral Imaginations; she does excellent work and it was one of the key sources in my master's thesis on the topic. She makes the excellent point about the contrast between how Job appears in the beginning, which is written in the style of a fairy tale or normal moral parable and where he must be the Moral Exemplar, and how he acts much different the second you get to the dialogue. She, and other commentators, have also made the important observation that Job's friends are proven wrong, yes, but they're meant to be taken seriously; as far as they know they're not wrong at all until God resolves the conflict. Job, too, doesn't know he's in the right and sure as hell doesn't accept his suffering meekly. As the story goes he becomes more and more certain (through contesting with his friends) that he's got a legal claim to having been mistreated by God, and that could he simply speak to Yahweh about the matter, he might be able to succeed in pressing said claim.

It doesn't go that way! It doesn't go that way at all. When he comes up against Yahweh with his claim that the universe isn't behaving properly God basically begins a long boast about the amazing Chaos Demons and horrible beasts (which humans can't possibly defeat) that he defeats and asks Job if, seeing as he thinks he knows how the universe should be functioning, he was there when it all started like God was. I personally read Job's meek withdrawal after this tirade as more defeated and hopeless than dutiful; God asked him if he had an 'arm like El' and it turns out he really doesn't. He then proceeds to confirm for Job that Job was right in the earlier argument anyway, and as you pointed out, grants him his material wealth and new family members back; but what's really interesting is not only did Job never actually ask for that, he specifically denies it when he's talking to his friends. What he wanted was an answer, and while my thesis was that he receives more of one than it first appears through what can be inferred from his point of view of God's resolution of the conflict and the theophany in general, he never actually receives the answer he was seeking directly, supposedly because it is beyond him.

I could say so much more but I've already written too much; sorry, I spent a year of my life reading about a ton of this stuff and writing a master's thesis on it, so it just kinda leaps out unbidden whenever anyone mentions the Book of Job.