Friday, October 24, 2008

The art of narrative theology in the Book of Job

Preparing for a class on Job last evening at Bishopdale Theological College (motto: the smallest college with the biggest vision in the Anglican Communion), I saw something I had not seen before. The writer of Job tackling the problem of suffering recognises a prior issue in the doctrine of God: is God one supreme power or a significant rival power to at least one other power, the source of evil? With an Isaianic grasp of the oneness of the one God of the universe the writer nails down the issue: Satan the source of evil acts dependently with God's permission; he is not a rival power, nor an independent one.

Thus in Scripture an awe-ful paradox is named: God is, ultimately, the author of good and evil, even though God is wholly good, and purposes to destroy Satan and all his works.

Resolving this paradox is one of the great issues of the Bible, and involves God in Christ suffering the sufferings of Job the innocent one. In this resolution the God who is good is revealed as the God who is love.

But right now I am in awe of the narrative art of the writer of Job: naming an immense theological issue with the simplicity of a story the youngest reader can understand!


Anonymous said...

"motto: the smallest college with the biggest vision in the Anglican Communion"

Don't forget also: "the sunniest outlook in the center of the nation"!

Do you know Bob Fyall's monograph on Job 'Now at last my eyes have seen you' (orig. his Edinburgh PhD)? - a very interesting read on the theodicy of the book (where he also recalls C S Lewis's words that 'the analogue of Satan is not God but the Archangel Michael'!).
Bob used to be minister of Claypath Church in Durham.

Anonymous said...

Here's further on Fyall's book, where he argues that Behemoth and Leviathan are really symols of Satan (against Clines' naturalistic interpretation):
One advantage is that is that it seeks to answer the apparent absence of Satan after hs 1-2.

Anonymous said...

Peter, FYI (if interested) - a link to Phil Long's lectures on Psalms & Wisdom:

I haven't listened to the stuff on Job yet. Long wrote the excellent 'Art of Biblical History'.

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks for the comments and the links which I shall attempt to follow up when time (soon, I hope). In a previous life (in Durham) I knew Bob Fyall a little!