I bought this book on the strength of the excerpts in Bill McKibben’s Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job and the Scale of Creation. The translation was such a rich, vivid rendering of the poetry that I wanted an extended experience of it. Turns out that Mitchell’s interpretive introduction was equally rewarding. Mitchell considers the work on literary terms, in the context of similar writings in other faiths and cultures. It seems to me that this gives his approach to the book the daring to confront some things I’d…Continue Reading “Mitchell’s Book of Job”

It wouldn’t be fair to blog about my raw reading responses, then not come back and revise my initial impressions as I learn more about the book. This’ll probably be my last entry on Job for awhile, though there’s plenty I haven’t touched yet (Elihu, for instance). Here are some discoveries so far, followed by my reading list: 1.) I asked if the story sanctioned questioning, or discouraged it. Despite the tone of God’s answer in the story, the fact that Job gets an answer at all suggests that God…Continue Reading “Job Journal V: Toward some answers”

I’m trying to get my struggles with Job into words. I’m coming at the book from a perspective of faith, but there are some snarls that I haven’t untangled yet. It gets to the question of trust. I have faith that God is, and that he is good. But the effect of this book is to expose all the vulnerabilities in the link between belief, and trust. 1. Covenant God. I understand that God wants to be loved, not treated like a vending machine that…Continue Reading “Job Journal IV: Struggles”

It’s partly a theology book. Partly a personal meditation. Partly a Jeremiad. Partly prophetic. That’s a lot of categories for a book just 95 pages long. Crisply written, provocatively presented, and compellingly argued, The Comforting Whirlwind by Bill McKibben offers an analogy between Job facing down the religious orthodoxy of his day, and modern-day western culture’s need to confront a similarly bankrupt orthodoxy. For Job, the status quo is that “God is just, and therefore Job suffers because he is guilty.” The only problem with this simple calculus is that Job…Continue Reading “The Comforting Whirlwind: God, Job, and the Scale of Creation”

When all is said and done, this is a baffling book to me. For years I’ve settled for bits and pieces of what others have said about it, and though I’ve read it several times myself, I’ve never truly faced my bafflement. Now I’m acknowledging it. It’s a tremendously rich book, one with many doors into it. I’ve thought of it often this year in relation to the slander my husband has had to endure, and the way his integrity isn’t being vindicated while the nitwits…Continue Reading “Journalling Job III: Big Picture”

Here’s my Job journal through Chapter 20. The inadequacy — or adequacy? — of speech: Over and over again, Job’s friends chastise him for his words. Some examples: “How long will you say such things? Your words are a blustering wind.” (Bildad, 8:2) “Are all these words to go unanswered? Is this talker to be vindicated?” (Zophar, 11:2) “Your sin prompts your mouth; you adopt the tongue of the crafty. Your own mouth condemns you, not mine.” (Eliphaz, 15: 5, 6) Job gives it right back,…Continue Reading “Journalling Job II: Emerging Themes”

I haven’t written anything about my Bible-reading for a long time, for two reasons: one, my posts didn’t say much of anything worth saying; two, my reading has been extremely dry and dutiful. But now that I’m up to Job, I want to try writing a bit to see if it revives the dialogue between me and Scripture/me and God. This book has a different character than the history books. It’s not a journalistic reporting of facts and events, but an exploration of one man’s…Continue Reading “Journalling Job”