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The Book of Job

(709 Posts)
Machadaynu Sun 30-Sep-12 20:20:50

I mentioned my thoughts on The Book of Job in the 'Back to Church' thread, and it was suggested that I start a new thread about it. So here it is.

The story of the book of Job is (to quote myself from the other thread):

God is chatting to Satan and mentions how Job is his best follower and would never lose faith. Satan essentially has a bet with God that Job would turn on God if his life wasn't so great. God, for some reason, accepts this deal with the proviso that Satan doesn't kill Job. It's not explained why God is chewing the fat with Satan rather than, say, destroying him completely, what with God being omnipotent and Satan being pure evil.

Anyway, Satan sends all sorts of illness to Job, kills all his animals, destroys his farm and kills his entire family. God, being omniscient, knew this would happen when he took on the bet - he knew Job would suffer, and he knew Job would remain true to him. Quite why he needed to prove this to Satan (pure evil, remember) is something of a mystery.

In the end God gives Job twice as many animals as before, and 10 new children, including 3 daughters that were prettier than the ones God allowed Satan to kill.

Christians see this as a story of how faith is rewarded (even if you're only suffering because God is trying to prove a point to Satan) I see it as a story of how God will use us as he sees fit, is insecure and vain and is apparently either unable, or unwilling, to resist being influenced by Satan.

I contrast God's treatment of Job, his wife and children - all "God's children" used as pawns in a game, and suffering terribly for it - and wonder what we'd make of a human father treating his children in such a way. I expect the MN opinion would be rather damning to say the least. Yet when God does it, it becomes an inspiring story, and God is love, apparently.

Christians, I am told, see the book as a lesson in why the righteous suffer. The answer, it seems, is that their all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, benevolent holy father is sometimes prone to abandoning people to the worst excesses of Satan to try and prove some kind of point to God knows who.

Seems odd to me. God does not show love in that story. God shows himself to be deeply unpleasant. Or not God.

What are your views on Job?

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 13:12:51

Yes, absolutely, madhairday. The whole point of the incarnation and the atonement is a God who doesn't just sit on a cloud looking on at human suffering with an interested experession.

Jesus was not only crucified - a terrible, agonising and intentionally humiliating death.

He was captured, bound, sold, betrayed by his friends, laughed at and bullied, scourged almost to death - this was a normal part of Roman crucifixion - picked on, picked at, and treated with tyrannical injustice by the authorities, including the religious authorities, rejected by his own community, and made to live a life of scrambling, desperate poverty.

He lived in an outlying province of a great and brutal empire, a province slated to be ethnically cleansed of his own ethnicity shortly after his death, a province where the rulers probably didn't understand a word of his mother tongue. He lived in a backward part even of that, Galilee, which had a rough regional accent that other Jews found difficult (like Glaswegian). He wasn't a Roman citizen and so had few legal rights.

He lived among revolutionaries so violent that they later made it a condition of loyalty that their followers cut off one of their fingers. He was so totally NOT a natural messianic candidate for his people that most of them didn't believe in it (which is why the idea that he never existed but was invented is ridiculous). And yet everyone who met him seems to have been touched by him. He sided with outsiders against the majority, with those shunned by others, and he may have said the first kind words some of them ever heard. Can we do that, when we suffer?

madhairday Sat 27-Oct-12 12:42:03

I think that works for me kind of the other way too, sieglinde. I have lung disease and it helps me not so much to think that I am sharing in Christ's agony but that he is sharing in mine. He knows what it is like to not be able to breathe, to struggle for every breath, be wracked with pain. He suffered it all, took on every suffering and pain imaginable. To know he got in it with us says an awful lot to me. But yes there's something in sharing in it too.

hih I wasn't ignoring you, been in bed ill all week and just up to facing puter screens again smile Will have a think through wehn my brain is less addled and fuzzy grin

sieglinde Sat 27-Oct-12 12:00:22

nailak, and OP, your view is also the trad Xtian view.

St Teresa of Avila once spoke to God on this topic - she got locutions...(direct speech from God).

'It's all going square again. Why, oh why?'

'I always treat my friends this way!'

'That's why you have so few!'

I love this story, but Carmelites also believe - and I too go with this - that it's a privilege to share in Christ's agony. (Warning - what follows will strike some as morbid and it certainly isn't rational, but when is love rational?) I have a friend who is severely asthmatic, and she told me she got through the bad nights by thinking that Christ's death was really suffocation, so it came to her as a privilege to share that.

Look at it this way. If one of my children or Dh is very sick, part of the misery is that I can't share the pain with them, take a little of it on myself. When we offer our suffering freely to Christ, we are getting to share his pain, including the utter and complete misery induced by its injustice.

Surely everyone feels a little of this confronted with unjust death and pain? Survivor guilt, almost? When I visited Auschwitz, I almost felt ashamed to be alive.

Clearly, this isn't a rational response, but nor is suffering, and nor is love.

crescentmoon Sat 27-Oct-12 10:56:45

yesterday was the day of Eid and i was quite busy. iv still got alot on the rest of the weekend so il get stuck into your questions after the 3 days of Eid are finished. as you said grimma obviously i believe otherwise, but that would take a while to write so il leave it to when I'll have a long period of no interruption.

but just to post more on the skepticism, the pagan arabs Muhammad (pbuh) preached to also did not believe in any life after death. they thought they were born, the lived, they died, end of. and the Qur'an records their words, just as with the earlier verses...

"They say: "Shall we indeed be returned to (our) former state of life? Even after we are crumbled bones?" (Chapter 79, verse 10-11)

"Is it when we have died and become dust and bones, that we shall be raised again, And even our fathers of aforetime?” " (chapter 37, verse 16-17)

and again, more verses along the theme of muhammad (pbuh) as a human with no claim to divinity within himself...

""Say, “I do not say to you that I have the treasures of God, nor do I have the knowledge of the Unseen, nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me.”
Quran 6:50

"Say: I am not the first of the messengers, and I do not know what will be done with me or with you: I do not follow anything but that which is revealed to me, and I am nothing but a plain warner."
Quran 46:9

"And Muhammad is no more than a messenger like the messengers that have already passed away before him; if then he dies or is killed will you turn back upon your heels? And whoever turns back upon his heels, he will by no means do harm to God in the least, and God will reward the grateful."
Quran 3:144

have a good weekend all, until monday!

headinhands Fri 26-Oct-12 19:04:54

Why is this life the time to 'learn faith'? Will we need it in the next?
If god is actively touching hearts and leading his believers how come there are so many different views within each religion even to the point of war? Wouldn't there be some consistency? Why would he lead his believers to hold so many different and opposing views?

nightlurker Fri 26-Oct-12 18:09:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

headinhands Thu 25-Oct-12 18:38:07

Isn't what those verses portray just healthy skepticism? Wouldn't you think the same about Yahweh/biblical claims?

GrimmaTheNome Thu 25-Oct-12 13:58:49

Sounds to me like the pagan Arabs were about right - obviously you believe otherwise, there must be some reason for this?

crescentmoon Thu 25-Oct-12 13:31:13

but following on from the previous post thats as far as we are allowed to go on Muhammad (pbuh) - we can pray for him as much as we like but we cannot overstep and ask him to intercede for us with God.

When muhammad (pbuh) began preaching to the pagan arabs about abrahamic monotheism and reciting the verses of the Qur'an as they were revealed to him they were extremely skeptical. on hearing the stories told of the various jewish prophets: Jesus, Moses, Abraham, Job, David the pagan arabs declared that these were mere folk tales and stories of old men. folk tales and stories of old men - the same statements made against religion today were made in the 7th century.

"When Our verses are recited to them, they say, “We have heard; if we wish, we can compose a discourse like this. It is nothing but the tales of the ancient people." (chapter 8, verse 31)

"This is what has been promised to us and to our fathers before. It is nothing but the tales of the ancients.” (chapter 23, verse 83)

"The disbelievers said, “This is nothing but a lie he (the messenger) has fabricated and some other people have helped him in it.” Thus they came up with sheer injustice and falsehood. And they said, “(These are) the tales of the ancients he (the messenger) has caused to be written, and they are read out to him at morn and eve.” (Chapter 25, verse 4-5)

they also derided the prophet (pbuh) for his simple living and humbleness. they said to him 'where are your special powers? where are your miracles? if you preach to us about God and these other great prophets, why isnt a grand sign sent to you?'. the Quran does not ascribe divinity, independent powers, will to perform miracles or knowledge of the unseen to Muhammad (pbuh). instead it repeatedly says that muhammad is a plain warner and his duty is to convey the message.

here are some verses:

"The disbelievers say, “Why is it that no sign has been sent down to him from his Lord?” You are but a warner; and for every people there is a guide." (Chapter 13, verse 7)

"And they say, “Why is it that no signs (miracles) have been sent down to him from his Lord?” Say, “Signs are only with God, and I am only a plain warner.” Is it not sufficient for them that We have sent down to you the Book that is being recited to them? Surely in it there is mercy and advice for a people who believe. " (Chapter 29, verse 50-51)

"Say: "I am but a man like yourselves, (but) the inspiration has come to me, that your God is one God: whoever expects to meet his Lord, let him work righteousness, and, in the worship of his Lord, admit no one as partner." (Chapter 18, verse 110)

"Say, “I have no power to bring a benefit or a harm to myself, except that which God wills. If I had the knowledge of the Unseen, I would have accumulated a lot of good things, and no evil would have ever touched me. I am but a warner, and a herald of good news for a people who believe.” (Chapter 7, verse 188)

and my favourite one...

"They said, “We shall never believe in you unless you cause a spring to gush forth for us from the earth. Or you have a garden of date palms and grapes, then you bring forth rivers from their midst in abundance. Or you cause the sky to fall upon us in pieces, as you claimed, or you bring Allah and angels before us face to face. Or you have a house made of gold. Or you ascend to the sky, and we will not believe in your ascension unless you send down to us a book we may read.” Say, “I proclaim the Purity of my Lord. I am nothing but human, a messenger.” Nothing prevented people from believing, when guidance came to them, except that they said, “Has Allah sent a man as a messenger?” (Chapter 17, verse 90-94)

so the pagan arabs of that time were thinking is it just a book you bring to us Muhammad? where are the miracles of Moses or Abraham?

crescentmoon Thu 25-Oct-12 12:08:11

hello headinhands. you might have noticed i usually put (pbuh) after i mention the prophet, it stands for "peace be upon him" and its a prayer to God to bless him and give him peace in his grave.

he (pbuh) actively forbade many signs of respect towards him in case it would turn inadvertently to worship of him - the most famous order known is not to draw his image in case it turned to idolatry but another narration is his asking that people not over exaggerate over him as earlier people did with their prophets.

however one of the only things that the prophet (pbuh) asked his followers to do was make a prayer for him whenever he was mentioned and ask God to bless him and grant him peace in the afterlife. why does Muhammad (pbuh) need these salutations? because even he believed that he wouldnt get into paradise without the grace/ mercy of God - and so asked us to pray for ourselves and for him that he receive the reward of the afterlife.

what benefit is there to me in saying it? its a source of connection to him. there is a narration of the Prophet(pbuh) where he said: “God has angels who travel about throughout the land, conveying to me the salaams of my ummah.” (al-Nasaa’i)... so when i pray for him the angels carry that prayer to him and say 'crescentmoon is wishing you peace.'

its also a source of reward: The Prophet said, “For one who sends blessings upon me once, God will send tenfold blessings in return” (Sahih Muslim and others). and he said (pbuh), “If one sends me blessings once, Almighty God will send him tenfold blessings, forgive him ten sins, and elevate him ten degrees.” these are not benefits in a worldly sense but a spiritual sense - gain 10 credits, lose 10 sins, be spiritually uplifted by 10 degrees.

the tradition is also upheld in the Qur'an where it states that even the inhabitants of paradise pray for him...

"Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O you that believe! Send your blessings on him, and salute him with all respect.” (Chapter 33: Verse 56)

headinhands Wed 24-Oct-12 16:54:36

Thanks crescent that was really interesting. You say that in Islam you pray for Allah to send salutations on Mohammed, . Why does Mohammed need these salutations. What would happen if no one prayed for them to be sent? Is there no way Allah could do without the prayers and send them anyway? What benefit is there to you and Mohammed?

GrimmaTheNome Wed 24-Oct-12 08:31:30

I don't know as much as I'd like to about Islam - in some ways it seems more rational than Christianity, except (and its a big exception) the foundation on which it is built, as Crescent puts it : 'my certainty in the Qur'an as the word of God'. How does this certainty arise?

crescentmoon Wed 24-Oct-12 07:59:07

i find these threads interesting for learning about the inner dimensions of belief in other faiths. i wanted to go back to something madhair said earlier,

"hih in answer to your question, my Muslim friends tell me that the concept of 'relationship' is not how they would describe their worship of Allah. Allah is seen as holy, far off, separate, and all powerful, as well as loving. But relationship, I've been told, would be an inappropriate word to use, would be playing down the holiness of Allah. Christians experience of relationship with God is quite different, they experience God as intimately involved in their daily lives, as walking alongside them. However, many Christians would also do well to remember the holiness and otherness of God, as Muslims do, and not to become overly lazy about grace and self satisfied."

i am always struck by this difference between the Christian view of God and the Muslim view of God. I think what makes God accessible to the Christian is Jesus, whereas what makes God accessible to the Muslim is the Qur'an. So as a variation of what Holo said earlier, Jesus is central to the Christian spirituality, whereas in the Muslim it is the Qur'an, not Muhammad (pbuh) which is central to our spirituality.

Thus, integrity of the scripture is very important to us. I believe in the prophets of old and their miracles because of my certainty in the Qur'an as the word of God. as for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, he did not perform the miracles of Moses or Abraham or Jesus, and we are not a religion that looks to miracles in that way to prove faith.

the sayings and traditions of the Prophet pbuh - the hadith - are kept separate STRICTLY, in other books, and those narrations of his life and actions are categorised by the probability of their being true - based on the people who narrated them and what was known of their integrity. we categorise them as strong, weak, and there is huge scholarship just on analysis of chains of narration, another huge scholarly field on the lives of the companions and early generations.

the exegesis of the Quran is kept separate of the Quran again. different scholars interpretations and explanations of the quran are STRICTLY kept separate from the main Quran itself, all to keep the integrity of the scripture pure.

that is extremely important to Muslims - that is the basis of our personal connection with God. no intercessors, we do not pray to anyone else, we do not ask anyone else for help, we do not ask anyone else for forgiveness. i feel, for myself, i have no veil between God and me.

to us Muhammad (pbuh) is someone we pray FOR, not TO. we ask God to send salutations on the prophet (pbuh) for us. unlike the status of Jesus to Christians.

expatinscotland Tue 23-Oct-12 11:23:59

It's a new series, Grimma. Really good food for thought.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 23-Oct-12 10:30:53

HiH - oh right, gotcha.

headinhands Tue 23-Oct-12 10:23:59

Can't he let Lalla give them even a teeny tiny trim?

headinhands Tue 23-Oct-12 10:22:54

I saw last weeks last night. Will watch new one tonight. I get a little too distracted with his unruly eye brow hairs at times though. blush

headinhands Tue 23-Oct-12 10:20:25

I was referring to where mad had said something like 'I was not citing love and beauty as evidence for god even though I think they are but is for another discussion' although she had striked through the latter part of her sentence But you know me, flag, red bull and all that.

GrimmaTheNome Tue 23-Oct-12 10:17:20

No - which series is that please (new or a rerun of something)?

expatinscotland Tue 23-Oct-12 10:12:43

Anyone watch the Richard Dawkins series last night on More4?

Very good food for thought, indeed!

GrimmaTheNome Tue 23-Oct-12 10:07:01

>mad why choose the nice things as proof for god?

HiH - she doesn't (leastwise, not in these posts). She was giving an example of belief without evidence. Not that her belief in the beauty of the lake district was evidence of god.

headinhands Tue 23-Oct-12 09:54:01

Furthermore these beautiful places are just the results of millennia of geological activity. Yes they look beautiful but they weren't dropped on earth as is.

headinhands Tue 23-Oct-12 09:51:11

mad why choose the nice things as proof for god? Why don't people say 'I see ugliness and hatred as proof of god'? And if you deem beautiful scenery as proof, what god is the peak/lake district evidence for? It's not as if it has a gift label on it saying 'To mankind, live from Yahweh, kiss kiss'?

GrimmaTheNome Mon 22-Oct-12 17:18:32

In the love case, we believe that the child probably loves the mother based on our own experience - that we think we would love in that situation. The 'evidence' is that such empathetic extrapolations usually serve us well in decoding human relationships. However, we surely have to recognise that they aren't always reliable, and become less so for someone in a situation we've not actually been in. Hence the 'probably'.

madhairday Mon 22-Oct-12 16:50:52

Thanks Grimma, that was indeed what I was trying to do, answer headinhands question '
Can you give me an example of anywhere else in your life that you believe something without any shred of evidence whatsoever?'

- I was not citing love and beauty as evidence for God even though I think they are but that is another discussion

I think what I was saying about the mothers love is that love is not always evident (eg in the daughter) but still there. A bit clumsy I know smile

Don't get me going on Discworld, we have enough of that in this house grin

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