PUTTING GOD ON TRIAL: The Biblical Book of Job
A literary, legal and philosophical study- Robert Sutherland. †
READING GUIDE: POINTS TO PONDER
1. THEODICY: A theodicy is an attempt to justify the ways of God to man? Is The Book of Job a theodicy? If so, what type of theodicy is it: moral, aesthetic or otherwise? Is it successful?† Does it make any difference to the moral conclusions you draw from the book if you regard it as historical or fictional?† Would the conclusions be the same?† Can God use fictional stories as a means of revelation?
2. JOBíS CHARACTER: Is Job a sinner at the beginning of the book? Does he deserve punishment? Is he in need of character development? Is the evil that befalls him for punishment? If so, is it excessive? Is the evil that befalls him for character development? If so, is it excessive? Why does the evil extend to Jobís children and servants? Is Job a Christ-figure? Does he sin at any point in the book? Does he commit blasphemy? Is it a sin to put God on trial? Does he curse God? Is he a rebel? If so, does he give up his rebellion? Does he repent? Does he confess sin? If so, then what is his sin? Would you compare Job to Satan in John Miltonís Paradise Lost? If so, what are the similarities and the differences?† God says Job is right in what he said about God.† How so?† Is a moral confession of sin a statement about God or a statement about Job?† Is sincerity or honesty a statement about God or a description about how statements about God are made?
3. GODíS CHARACTER: Is the God of the prologue all-powerful and all-knowing? What do you think about his reason for sending evil into the life of Job? Was he duped by Satan? Would you have acted in the same way? Many scholars say that God is incomprehensible.† Is there anything incomprehensible in the explanation for evil given in Godís exchange with Satan?† Is understanding the same thing as agreement?† What do you think about his defense before Job? Is it satisfactory? Do human beings have a right to know the reason behind evil in the world? Does God have a duty to give an explanation? If the evil that befell Job befell you, would you want to know reason why? Would you expect a reason? Why does God not answer Job directly? What is Behemoth-Leviathan? Is it a natural creature: a hippo or crocodile? Is it a mythological creature: a sea monster, a chaos monster? Is it one beast or two? What relevance does it have if any? Would you have answered Job differently? Is God beyond good and evil? Is good and evil merely a human construction? Why does he declare Job spoke rightly about God? Why does he double Jobís wealth at the end?
4. SATANíS CHARACTER: Is Satan a member of the heavenly court? Is he Godís prosecutor? Is he a just prosecutor? Is he a faithful servant? Why does he level his accusation against Job? Is he right? Does his being right make God wrong? If so, then what are the implications of God being wrong?
5. JOBíS FRIENDS: What do they think is the reason for evil in Jobís life? Are they right? What happens to Elihu? Why are the three friends condemned by God? Does that condemnation extend to Elihu? If not, then how is what Elihu says about Job compatible with Godís declaration that Job spoke rightly?
6. LITERARY ECHOES: Is the Book of Job compatible with the Book of Genesis? Is the Book of Job compatible with the Gospels? Is the Book of Job compatible with the Book of Revelation?