Job Notwithstanding

Job Notwithstanding October 19, 2013

That the view that suffering is due to sin is still prevalent, even in traditions that have the Book of Job, just goes to show how tenacious that way of viewing things is. It is easier to accept the view of Job's friends (even if one accepts as authoritative the Book of Job, which condemns them for not speaking truthfully about God), than to deal with the mystery and uncertainty that Job came to embrace.


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  • smijer

    In some narrowly circumscribed respects, I think the Just God hypothesis represents an institutionalization of the Just World hypothesis (aka fallacy). If suffering is arbitrary, that’s hardly “fair”. And we are not comfortable with the idea that the world is ultimately indifferent to us. Translated into religious speech, we are not comfortable with the idea of a God who is ultimately indifferent to us. It is, for this reason, very difficult to imagine a reason for suffering that is not “our own fault”.

  • It seems that while the political/historical books of the HB are set up to promote this idea, wisdom literature (besides Proverbs perhaps) is focused on dismantling it.

  • You said,

    even if one accepts as authoritative the Book of Job

    but if they are accepting as authoritative all the various writers in the Christian holy anthology, the mumbojumbo of conflicting views makes for all sorts of nonsense.

    “Accepting as Authoritative” is the root of the problem — be it Job or any other text. I am a bit confused though (not being very Bible literate), but let’s say one’s Bible only has the Book of Job. Then, would one think that suffering is not due to sin but to powerful gods toying with our lives in a gambling match.

    Wow, that is a big improvement!

    • I agree that accepting the Bible as “authoritative” in the sense that conservative Christians use that phrase is problematic. But my point is that, if they genuinely deferred to it in the way that they claim to, then they would have to realize that it is in fact a diverse collection of texts expressing diverse views, and thus there is no way to defer to it so as to obtain a single authoritative answer.

  • redpill99

    “than to deal with the mystery and uncertainty that Job came to embrace.”

    until Job reads the book discovers it was all about a bet between Satan and God.

    • that’s what I said too!

      • redpill99

        99% of the OT is WTF?
        when i c joos go nuts over the Torah, i can’t help but think they are just weird

  • Perhaps because there is still plenty of evidence in scripture that suffering IS a result of sin. Whether it be Assyrian/Babylonian exile, David losing his child, etc., there is plenty of suffering that is the result of sin. Of course, in these instances God makes it pretty clear exactly why the suffering is occurring, and that is hardly the case now (although I’m sure some would differ). But Jesus addressed this notion with the blind man as well, and didn’t correct it. He was asked if the man or his parents sinned, and Jesus didn’t offer a corrective, but just said “neither” (essentially).