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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:07 pm 
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Greetings and welcome to a discussion of the Old Testament Book of Job.

Statement of Intent

This thread is intended to be a focused discussion on the OT Book of Job. This discussion is open to anyone who wants to participate; all that is asked is that you be willing to consider the ideas expressed in Job on their own terms as we would any other text under discussion. Sometimes (often I’d wager) ideas from Job are reflected elsewhere in the entire Bible, in other religious traditions, in secular society and such. Comments highlighting such world views and traditions are welcome. However it is understood that inside of this thread ultimate authority is assigned to the words of the Bible. Also, for the purposes of this discussion, it is also assumed (and in some cases believed) that the words of the Bible appear as the God they refer to desires them to be. This is an important proviso since Job refers to at least one private conversation between God and the Devil, which presumably no writer was there to witness. We are not interested here in the ongoing, often fruitless debate about the reliability of the Bible (aka God’s Word) or the many translations and/or paraphrases of the Bible.

Format

Job is kind of a longish book given the number of themes usually teased out of it. The book itself is somewhat instructive to internet denizens as most of the story plays out as a debate. In the interests of having a robust but not over-long discussion (ie one that trails on forever or until everyone has all but lost interest) the discussion will be guided inside of a structure loosely conforming to book chapters and/or subdivided by parts of chapters where seems appropriate.

Through the course of the discussion guide posts will be added from time to time that are highlighted all in blue (such as this paragraph is). The intent is that “guide posts” will indicate we are moving on to a new chapter/section; they do not mean, however, that discussion of prior sections is closed. "Guide posts” shall contain selected scriptures from the section of Job we are at, as well as questions. Readers and participants are encouraged to read and follow along in their own texts or at BibleGateway.com (note: no preference for version is expressed, follow along with whichever version you want to).

I thought I would post this now for comment* as I prepare the first guide post:

Difficult Beginnings or “So there I was, doing everything right… then wham!”



* ie "urgh this sounds like work already, maybe we could cover it all in three parts;" or "sounds good to me;" or "I would really like to help by authoring one or some of the guide posts;" or "you are nuts" (yes, please get it out of your system now);" or "oops -- clicked on the wrong thread;" or anything else you would like to say before we start.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 7:43 pm 
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We tried this once before, six years ago (!?!?!?!). It didn't go very far. Hopefully this will be more successful.

On-Line Study Group - The Book of Job

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:23 pm 
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Hmmm well in that case, as I see some of the same people are still around from back then, is there a different book people would be interested in looking at?

Job seemed a good place to start because it mostly deals with a question that (probably) has been on the minds of people for millennia.

ETA: Having said all this, you know, I'm pretty committed to presenting the text (though would prefer that there was some agreement on which one). Even if people don't want to have a discussion, they can, perhaps in their own time and way, read what is presented and ponder the questions without feeling compelled to respond.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 8:46 pm 
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I say go for it, SirDennis. What might be helpful (and you had probably already planned this) would be to post the text of the portion of the book you are studying/discussing.

The Book of Job is thought to be one of the oldest books in the Bible. It has wonderful subtexts, great poetry, cool life lessons and I think it would be fun/interesting to have you present it...even if the discussion is not as lively as hoped.

:D

ETA: I should probably state up front that I consider the Book of Job to be completely metaphorical/symbolic. In no way do I believe that God and the Devil actually had a wager going on...instead, I find the Book of Job to be instructive in the same way that the parables of Jesus are instructive.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:57 pm 
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The Book of Job is certainly the text of the bible that I have the most interest in. Though I can't promise that I'll say much, I will definitely read everything that is written with interest.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 12:10 am 
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Voronwë the Faithful wrote:
The Book of Job is certainly the text of the bible that I have the most interest in. Though I can't promise that I'll say much, I will definitely read everything that is written with interest.


But which version?

Naturally, I vote for the King James Version, but I daresay there are other ideas.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:01 am 
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Vison, if you are comfortable with KJV, I say go for it.

I should point out that although I have read Job before, and have referred to it often, this will be my first in-depth analysis of it. I fully expect there to be something there that I have not “seen” before. (IOW in case it is also yours, this is my first time too.)

As well, I will be using the whole Bible to define certain passages, as one uses a dictionary to define the words within it. It will be interesting (to me at least) to see how often (or not) we are lead to look outside of the Bible to understand certain words or passages.

Finally, I’ll be using the New Living Translation (NLT) for most of this myself. (Which, incidentally, I am looking forward to because it will be my first time reading in any sustained way in that version. Usually I read NIV, NKJV, and am starting to read KJV more often. I really like The New Century Version (NCV) and (rarely these days) read from The Message (MSG).)

All that aside, most of the links I'll provide will be to the NLT. Once there simply change the version and update to whichever translation/paraphrase you prefer.

So if there are no objections...

ETA: Actually, I will just do guide post titles in blue, for ease of reading. :)


Last edited by SirDennis on Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:25 am 
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Job Chapter 1

Difficult Beginnings Part 1


Please read Job Ch 1:1-12

A little about Job
Job Ch 1:1-5


Notes:
- Job lived in Uz.
- Job was “blameless” and “a man of complete integrity”
- He had many sons, daughters, livestock and servants
- He was the wealthiest man around
- Job’s children feasted together at each others’ houses often
- When they were done feasting, Job would purify his children; and
- The next day he would make a burnt offering on their behalf

Questions:
1. Does anyone know what Uz translates to?
2. Where was Uz thought to be located?
3. What does it mean to be “blameless, a person of complete integrity?”
4. If you didn’t use the rest of v1 to define it already, how does the verse itself define blamelessness?
5. Who else was said to be blameless in the Bible? (help)
6. What can be inferred about Job’s children?
7. Why would he “purify” them and make an offering for them when they were done feasting?


Enter the Accuser
Job Ch 1:6-12


Notes:
- The members of the heavenly court, along with Satan, came before the Lord
- The Lord singles-out Satan asking where he came from
- The Lord points to his servant Job as blameless, a man of complete integrity
- Satan claims it is only because he is wealthy and protected by the Lord that Job fears God
- He goes onto say Job surely would curse God if he lost everything
- The Lord agrees to let Satan test Job, to take everything from him but not to harm him physically
- Satan leaves the Lord’s presence.

Questions:
1. Who are the members of the heavenly court?
2. Where had Satan come from?
3. What does God mean by “blameless – a man of complete integrity?”
4. What does it mean to “fear God?” ( help)
5. If the Lord was protecting Job, why would Job also fear him? (hint?)
6. Who would be testing Job?
7. $1m question: Why would God allow Job to be tested?(help)


General talking points:
Are there any verses from Part 1 you find particularly difficult, beautiful, scary, funny, whatever that you would like to talk about?


Next up Difficult Beginnings Part 2: Things suddenly get complicated


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:09 am 
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To me, this initial set-up actually shows God bragging...kind of an "in your face" to Satan. Satan has not asked about Job...God brings him up - "Look at my man, Job, yo. He is totally awesome, isn't he? In your face, Satan-dude!"

(Okay, so that's not an official translation.)

The question is: Why did God bring this to Satan's attention in the first place? To show off? To challenge Satan? So we could have a cool story?

Maybe Satan wasn't the Prince of Darkness yet? Just another member of the Heavenly Court? I assume God asked him where he'd been because he'd been absent from the latest Heavenly Meetings. (And I love Satan's answer: "Just...you know. Hangin' out.")

Job had all the bases covered, didn't he? He didn't sin himself (apparently!) and although he (also apparently) tolerated his children's parties and carryings-on, he made sacrifices to God afterwards, just in case. He did everything "right." (What can be inferred about his children? That they were normal, healthy young adults.)

It makes sense to fear something powerful and awe-inspiring. I love storms and wild weather, but I also have a healthy fear (and respect) for it.

Quote:
$1m question: Why would God allow Job to be tested?


In this story, God is not the caring shepherd/gentle Father we find later on in the Bible. God is...well, God. Or maybe: God. God cares about Job only insomuch as Job has made God look really good. Job is merely a playing piece here...an example to show Satan how awesome and powerful God really is. God can do whatever God wants, because God is....God.

"Uz" translates to "Words of Counsel" or something like that.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:18 am 
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I also think it is interesting that the Hebrew translation for "Satan" is "The Adversary" which fits into the metaphorical/allegorical form better.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:12 am 
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Yes, adversary, accuser (which is in the NLT text) are apt names.

The answer, "God let it happen because he is God [and can do what ever he wants to]" is patently unsatisfying to me (even though it is an adequate answer).

I wonder if we might expand the question a bit?

It can be assumed that God loved Job... as far as the adversary was concerned God had protected and blessed Job abundantly (true) but claimed that Job would surely curse (deny, lose interest in) God if he lost all his material possessions.

Q. What was it about Job, and what is it about God in relation to Job, that God would allow Satan to test Job by taking all his possessions away (the details of which we will get into in the next section btw)?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:15 am 
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SirDennis wrote:
The answer, "God let it happen because he is God [and can do what ever he wants to]" is patently unsatisfying to me (even though it is an adequate answer).


Whereas, as I said elsewhere, it is adequate for me.

I like Job. And I do not like Job's god at all.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:24 am 
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I'm intrigued, SirD. I can't recall anyone ever leading a Bible study online here (or any of the other messageboards). I should check that last thread on Job; I wonder if I posted in it. :scratch:

I have absolutely no brain cells left to even think about tackling anything tonight, but I will be back. :)

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 3:27 am 
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Quote:
It can be assumed that God loved Job


I do not assume this at all. Not once in the Book of Job does it say or even really imply that God loved Job. He may have been "fond" of him...like you'd be fond of a pet or a favorite sweater. But love? I don't see that.

Quote:
... as far as the adversary was concerned God had protected and blessed Job abundantly (true) but claimed that Job would surely curse (deny, lose interest in) God if he lost all his material possessions.


An honest assumption.

Quote:
What was it about Job, and what is it about God in relation to Job, that God would allow Satan to test Job by taking all his possessions away


Job was a perfect subject. (Or maybe a perfect sitting duck.) God allowed the Adversary (I like that so much better than "Satan") to test Job because God was convinced that Job would never turn away. And maybe for fun.

(I sometimes wonder what would have happened if God had lost the bet.)

Perhaps, though, Job had had a glimpse of what GOD actually was...the incomprehensible, all-powerful and unyielding I AM. And, having glimpsed that (somehow) Job could not, would not, curse GOD - no matter what happened.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 4:11 am 
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Okay, unless it feels like I am leading the witness, consider the question in terms of the stated facts (please remember our agreement in the lead post ;) ):

Fact 1. "Job was blameless -- a man of complete integrity"

Fact 2. While his children were enjoying the many blessings afforded them by God through Job, Job's chief concern was looking after their souls according to the traditions of his day.

What can be inferred (or supported by scripture elsewhere) about his relationship to his material possessions, his life on Earth?

Now, how does God view life on Earth? (This answer would benefit from scriptural support as well).

Fact 3. God was sitting there surrounded by the sons of God (aka angels, aka members of the the heavenly court) and the adversary, yet he was thinking about Job and how pleased he was with him.

Is there anyone else God showed this kind of deference to? Is this love?


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 11:46 am 
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Quote:
Fact 1. "Job was blameless -- a man of complete integrity"


I believe this was also said about Noah. Since the Bible is also clear that no man is "blameless" or free of sin this seems to me to be a way of saying that he was a very good man.

Quote:
Fact 2. While his children were enjoying the many blessings afforded them by God through Job, Job's chief concern was looking after their souls according to the traditions of his day.


Well, I doubt that was Job's "chief" concern, since he had so many cattle and sheep and so on to take care of. He obviously had to devote lots of time to his livestock, farm and servants - if he didn't, he would have lost them long before they got taken away. I assume he was a responsible land-owner/farmer and also a responsible father. In other words, he was a responsible man, as well as a good one, and he cared about his children's souls as much as he cared about their physical well-being.

Quote:
What can be inferred (or supported by scripture elsewhere) about his relationship to his material possessions, his life on Earth?


He had to have cared about his material possessions, or he would not have been as prosperous. (See my comment above.) If he had NOT cared about them or found them valuable/important, having them taken away would not have been much of a test of his devotion to God.

Quote:
Now, how does God view life on Earth? (This answer would benefit from scriptural support as well).


I'll have to go digging for this one, if you want quotes from elsewhere in the Bible. If I am just looking at the Book of Job, God seems to view earth and life on it as kind of a hobby.

Quote:
Fact 3. God was sitting there surrounded by the sons of God (aka angels, aka members of the the heavenly court) and the adversary, yet he was thinking about Job and how pleased he was with him.


Well, he was thinking about how he could show the Adversary something. He had pride in Job and Job's devotion. It is not clear (to me) whether or not Job's prosperity had to do with God rewarding him or not.
Quote:
Is there anyone else God showed this kind of deference to? Is this love?


Well, not in the Book of Job there isn't. (Again, Noah comes to mind.) but I do not think this is "love" nor do I believe that the Book of Job is *about* God's love at all.

The opening chapters of Job are the set-up for the poetry and philosophy that comes after. I think that is why the whole thing is so succinct and almost harshly stated. Job was a good man, who had a lot of material things and who also was devoted to God. The Adversary posits that the only reason Job is devoted to God is because of the things he has; because of his good fortune. God takes the bet and allows Job to be stripped of everything, confident that Job will remain devoted anyway. And then the real story begins.

NOTE: The Book of Job is a stand-alone book for me. Quoting from the rest of the Bible does not, for me, add much to the meaning or the story. It is not really a history, it is not a prophecy, it is not psalms. It's a fascinating parable/fable of God's relationship to Man and vice versa.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 1:33 pm 
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William Blake thought Job's initial piety to be sacramental only, not truly spiritual. He was good because good was expected of him.

His first plate in his Illustrations for the Book of Job implies this via the presence of musical instruments, unplayed, in the branches of the tree beneath which Job and his family pray, not to mention the notes Blake inserted around the illustration:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... _Job_1.jpg

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 2:42 pm 
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Quote:
(I sometimes wonder what would have happened if God had lost the bet.)


God couldn't have lost the bet. The deck was stacked.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 6:48 pm 
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Thank you for the Blake reference Ax and the commentary Vison... it certainly seems so at times. And regarding Blake, that sounds suspiciously similar to the Accuser's (Adversary, Satan) claim about Job as well.

So to Jewel, I do believe we are getting somewhere. Job does not exist in a vacuum today as it is a part of the entire text of the Bible. If we stick with the premise that the Bible is as God wants it to be today, if only for this thread, then it allows us to: define clearly what the word blameless means in the Bible; and specifically regarding Job, understand where he was at that he should be called blameless.

Here is an example of what I'm getting at:

The most straight forward explanation for "blameless" in the context of Job's time is that he kept The Commandments exceptionally well, if not perfectly.

He had it all down so well, he was even able to make atonement for his adult children just in case -- not even because as far as we are told -- they messed up, even in their hearts (where no one can see).

If he was blameless because he kept The Commandments, that would include keeping the first one: Thou shalt have no other gods before me;

Which is rendered elsewhere in the OT: "But be very careful to obey all the commands and the instructions that Moses gave to you. Love the LORD your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, hold firmly to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Joshua 22:5 NLT)

In other words, if Job was blameless, that means that he loved God more than anything, even his own life and all that he owned.

To go a little further, in order to answer the question "did God love Job?," we can come at it at least two ways:

One would be to see who else was blameless and determine if God loved them:

For instance, way back in the book of Genesis, we learn about Abraham, whom God commanded to "walk in faith (or before me) and be blameless." (Gen 17:1) which as far as we know, he did to the best of his ability -- When he did sin (as others did who were also described as blameless, such as David), he repented. But this is getting far from the point (if you are interested you may like this which I found just now.)

But did God love him? Well according to Gen 24:27 God showed to Abraham "unfailing love" which to me, especially because of the "unfailing" part would indicate, yes.

May I suggest that the above is really the long way around, at least for this particular question: "Did God love Job?"

The quickest way to an answer that I just learned last night while reading is Proverbs 8:17 (KJV) "I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me." (The I in this case being God.)

So there you have it: Job was blameless=Job loved God=God loved Job.

Now please note that the equation doesn't imply that God only loved Job because Job was blameless. Elsewhere in the scriptures is the idea "We love God because he first loved us" (ie the equation does work in reverse) and of course the famous "For God so loved the world (us)..." However, I'm really committed to keeping this discussion inside the realm of the OT (if possible) and really don't want this to evolve into proselytizing over-much.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 18, 2012 8:20 pm 
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The situation is complicated somewhat by the indicated historical context in Job. His making sacrifice on his own, along with the description of Elihu as a Buzite, point to the Abrahamic period, before the Mosaic covenant. If he is operating under the covenant of Noah, Job's blamelessness would mean something slightly different, and his relationship with God would have a disintermediated nature.

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