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Putting God on Trial : The Biblical Book of Job
by Robert Sutherland


Overview -

Many scholars find the legal metaphor of an Oath of Innocence inappropriate, though for different reasons.

Some liberal scholars opt for an aesthetic, not a moral, resolution of the question of evil in the world. They find a sublime beauty in God's review of the animal and physical worlds, Behemoth and Leviathan.  Read more...


 
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Overview

Many scholars find the legal metaphor of an Oath of Innocence inappropriate, though for different reasons.

Some liberal scholars opt for an aesthetic, not a moral, resolution of the question of evil in the world. They find a sublime beauty in God's review of the animal and physical worlds, Behemoth and Leviathan. But that is all they find. They find no suggestions of moral purpose in God's creation and control of evil. Indeed, they feel none could be forthcoming. God is beyond good and evil so no moral resolution is possible. Since no moral resolution is possible, a legal mataphor such as a lawsuit dramatizing the moral question is inappropriate. They interpret Job to understand that position. And they interpret him to retract the lawsuit in its entirety.

This author feels such liberal scholars miss a moral resolution for five reasons. (a) First, they fail to give adequate weight to Satan's first speech in heaven setting out the moral solution. (b) Second, they misinterpret Job's struggle with God to be a request for a restoration of his former position, rather than a request to know the reason behind evil in the world. (c) Third, they fail to appreciate the moral restrictions under which God has to operate. God cannot reveal any moral answers directly without defeating his very purpose in the creation and control of evil. As a result, they miss the suggestions of moral purpose in God's two speeches and the inferences God would have Job draw. (d) Fourth, they fail to fully appreciate the legal dynamics of the enforcement mechanism of Job's Oath of Innocence. In particular, they fail to appreciate the distinction between causal responsibility and moral blameworthiness. Thus, they do not understand God's comments concerning vindication and condemnation in his first speech to Job. And they do not understand Job's hesitation to proceed beyond his own vindication to a condemnation of God in Job's first speech to God. Ultimately, they fail to see Job's adjournment and continuation of his Oath of Innocence implied by the allusion to the story of Abraham and Sodom and Gomorrah in Job's final speech. (e) Finally, they fail to give full expression to God's ultimate judgement on Job. Job and only Job spoke rightly about God. In the face of such a judgement, there is no room to deny the ultimate propriety of the moral and legal question as a way of framing man's encounter with God.

Some conservative scholars opt for a moral resolution of the question of evil in the world, but their resolution is equally unsatisfying. They interpret Job's so-called excessive words and his Oath of Innocence to be sins of presumption. Thus they would have Job retract his lawsuit in its entirety and repent morally for either his so-called excessive words, his raising of the lawsuit or both.

This author feels such conservative scholars miss a satisfactory moral resolution for three reasons. (a) First, they fail to understand the depth of Satan's challenge to God. It is not merely that Job will curse God. It is that God is wrong in his judgement on Job's goodness. God missed sin in Job's life. Such scholars think their moral resolution is possible, because although Job sins, Job does not actually curse God. Their resolution actually makes Satan right in his challenge of God so that God should step down from his throne and destroy mankind. (b) Second, they fail to give proper weight to Job's blamelessness and integrity. The raising of the Oath of Innocence is an expression of that blamelessness and integrity. It is what God expects of Job, though he cannot tell him that directly. (c) Finally, they fail to give full expression of God's ultimate judgement on Job. Job and only Job spoke rightly about...


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Details
  • ISBN: 9781412219853
  • Publisher: Trafford Publishing
  • Imprint: Trafford
  • Date: July 2004
 
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