on suffering

by caseybedell

Currently I am studying the book of Job for my Hebrew Poets class and we have been looking at various perspectives on the book, asking, what kind of book is it? Is it a lawsuit, a wisdom debate, a dramatized lament, or something like proto-apocalyptic?

While an important question for hermeneutics, the bigger question is the existential one; why did Job suffer?  Well we know one thing; he did not suffer because of personal sin.  This was the problem of his friends, as they operated within a mechanical deed-consequence nexus.  They were those miserable comforters.

In Job 9:32-33 (LXX), Job laments the fact that ” he (God) is not a man (ἄνθρωπος), as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter (μεσίτης) between us (Job and God), who might lay his hand on us both.” And in Job 28:20, Job asks, “From where, then, does wisdom (σοφία) come?”

Interestingly, in the LXX, the Greek word in 9:33 is the same word that Paul uses in I Tim. 2:5: “For there is one God and one mediator (μεσίτης) between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” And who is that stands in, a man, like Job and like Paul. And in Job 28:20, the wisdom (σοφία) that Job was looking for is the wisdom Paul found, for “Christ is the wisdom (σοφίαν) of God (I Cor. 1:24).

Job could not see in his day what we see today, but his groaning looked to that day. If there were one thing that Job could have wanted during his suffering, what would it be? Well, it is the one thing we do have.  Not miserable comforters, but a wise mediator.  Not a semi-divine figure, or a mystical sage, but one in whom the mystery of they hypostatic union takes place. The God-man.  And like Job, he is one that intercedes for his friends and offers the ultimate sacrifice; for he is our sympathetic high priest.

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