Archive for the ‘Eliphaz the Temanite’ Tag

Bildad the Shuhite’s Second Speech and Job’s Answer   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF JOB

PART VII

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Job 18:1-19:29

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As I have already written, I have no interest in analyzing the Book of Job line by line.  One can read books in which others have done that.  I own some volumes of that sort.  No, I choose to focus on the proverbial forest and to examine a few trees along the way.

My lens as I write this series of posts is intensely personal.  I know the feeling when the bottom falls out of one’s life.  I report two such periods.  I know the feeling of wishing that I were dead, for that would be easier than continuing to live.  Fortunately, I also know the presence of consoling people at such times.

So, I recoil in disgust at air bags such as Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.  They are also full of something else, which I leave to your imagination, O reader.  This is a family-rated weblog, after all.  Such pneumatic individuals should not only be slow to speak, but silent.  If they cannot say anything helpful, they ought to say nothing.

Instead, such wind bags–in this case, Bildad the Shuhite–torment Job.  They gloat.  They insult him.  They are rude to a suffering, innocent man.  They blame the victim.  And they do so in the name of God.

Job has a relationship with God, whom he correctly blames for the plight.  This complex relationship leads Job to rely on God as his Kinsman-Redeemer/Avenger/Vindicator (19:25).  This is not a prediction of the resurrection of Jesus, despite the Christian tradition of reading Job 19:25 at and near Easter.  No, this is an expectation that God will defend Job’s rights.  God is Job’s only candidate to fulfill this role because the other relatives are dead, and the alleged friends are gas bags.  And, on that day, the alleged friends will, ironically, suffer the judgment they have predicted will befall Job.

False certainty is dangerous.  It harms the falsely certain person, inflicts damage on that person’s victims, and drives people away from God.  In my culture, many people–especially young people–are rejecting organized religion.  They perceive it as an instrument of intolerance and oppression, as well as a mechanism of control.  They are partially correct; antisemitism, racism, homophobia, sexism, nativism, xenophobia and other sins find theological cover in many sectors of organized religion.  These properly morally outraged critics ought not to reject organized religion entirely.  No, they should reject only the segments of organized religion that practice these sins.

An Episcopal priest I know has a wonderful way of speaking to people who claim not to believe in God.  Father Dann asks them to describe the God in whom they do not believe.  Invariably, they describe a version of God in which he does not believe either.

That priest also says that if being a Christian were not an option, he would be a Jobite:  God is.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 28, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE SECOND DAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT STEPHEN THE YOUNGER, DEFENDER OF ICONS

THE FEAST OF ALBERT GEORGE BUTZER, SR., U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND EDUCATOR

THE FEAST OF KAMEHAMEHA IV AND EMMA ROOKE, KING AND QUEEN OF HAWAI’I

THE FEAST OF JAMES MILLS THOBURN, ISABELLA THOBURN, AND CLARA SWAIN, U.S. METHODIST MISSIONARIES TO INDIA

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH HOFER AND MICHAEL HOFER, U.S. HUTTERITE CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS AND MARTYRS, 1918

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Eliphaz the Temanite’s Second Speech and Job’s Answer   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF JOB

PART VI

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Job 15:1-17:16

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The best-crafted lies include objectively accurate material; it lends credibility to the lies.  This generalization, adapted for honest yet inaccurate statements, applies.  Eliphaz, for example, accuses Job of flouting piety and having a guilty conscience.  Eliphaz is rude, also.  Eliphaz, not Job, is full of hot air.

Job’s retort to Zophar the Naamathite in 13:5 applies here, too, as well as elsewhere in the Book of Job:

If you would only keep quiet

It would be considered wisdom on your part.

TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures

Does Eliphaz imagine that he is defending God?  Probably.  Yet God requires no human defense.  Any deity who does require a human defense is unworthy of human worship.

Job’s opening lines in his answer to Eliphaz summarizes my reaction to the alleged friends:

I have heard much of this sort,

wretched consolers are you all.

Is there any end to words of hot air,

or what compels you to speak up?

–16:1b-2, Robert Alter

What compels Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar to spew hot air and to call it wisdom?  What compels anyone alive to do the same?  Depending on each circumstance, the answer may vary.  In the bst-case scenarios, the answer is the delusion that one is (a) correct, and (b) helping.  In the worst-case scenarios, the answer is cynical self-interest.

Job’s anguish is evident in his reply.  He needs consolation, not lectures that could come from a hand dryer in a restroom.  His so-called friends are spiteful mockers who have shut their hearts to his plight and their minds to reason.

One need not be spiteful to make unhelpful statements to people in anguish.  Unhelpful statements may come from the desire to console, too.  When one’s life has collapsed, one needs consolation.  One needs for kind people to listen and to be present.  One needs shoulders on which to cry.

In my experience, cats have modeled the ideal response.  When needed, they have been present.  Cats have curled up and been nearby.

Job’s alleged friends should have been real friends.  They should have been like consoling cats.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 27, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES INTERCISUS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, CIRCA 241

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM COOKE AND BENJAMIN WEBB, ANGLICAN PRIESTS AND TRANSLATORS OF HYMNS

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Zophar the Naamathite’s First Speech and Job’s Answer   Leave a comment

READING THE BOOK OF JOB

PART V

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Job 11:1-14:22

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Zophar the Naamathite’s first speech overflows with irony.  He asks:

Is wordiness in man a proof of right?

–Job 11:2b, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

That line reminds of Polonius, in Hamlet, saying that brevity is the wit of wisdom.  The line is ironic in the mouth of a motormouth.

Then Zophar babbles, just as he accuses Job of having done.  Zophar babbles pious platitudes and continues to blame a victim.  Much of what Zophar says could come from Psalms or Proverbs.  Consider one example, O reader:

Can you claim to grasp the mystery of God,

to understand the perfection of Shaddai?

–Job 11:7, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Yet Zophar refuses to grapple with suffering that contradicts his orthodoxy.  He vainly imagines to have grasped some of the mystery of God.

In contrast, Job admits an uncomfortable reality:

And yet, the tents of brigands are left in peace,

and these who challenge God live in safety,

and make a god of their two fists!

–Job 12:6, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Job is an honest monotheist; he knows that there no other deities to blame for anything.  Job understands that God us ultimately responsible, for nobody else can be ultimately responsible.  This theological honesty exceeds the grasp of Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

I wish someone would teach you to be quiet

–the only wisdom that becomes you!

–Job 13:5, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

“You” is plural.  (I even checked five French translations.)  Job is correct; the alleged friends are not helping him.

A friend is one who behaves like a friend.  A friend does not make the already miserable life of someone more miserable.  No, a friend acts in that person’s best interest.

In the context of the story, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar may think that they are being good friends.  They may imagine that they are staging a spiritual intervention, much as one confronts a drug addict for the addict’s own good.

This point may condemn some of us.  We may be oblivious to when we are being insensitive jerks yet imagine that we are being good friends.  There is much wisdom in not speaking when one should be quiet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 26, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT SIRICIUS, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF H. BAXTER LIEBLER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO THE NAVAJO NATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BERCHMANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN

THE FEAST OF SOJOURNER TRUTH, U.S. ABOLITIONIST, MYSTIC, AND FEMINIST

THE FEAST OF THEODORE P. FERRIS, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND AUTHOR

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Eliphaz the Temanite’s First Speech and Job’s Answer   1 comment

READING THE BOOK OF JOB

PART III

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Job 4:1-11 and 5:1-7:21

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Eliphaz the Temanite does not understand why Job was suffering grievously.  We–you, O reader, and I–do.  We can consult the beginning of the Book of Job easily.

As I read Eliphaz the Temanite’s first speech aloud from The Jerusalem Bible (1966), I wanted to smack him.  The speech, full of platitudes and based on an assumption the Book of Job nullifies, was a patronizing paragon of blaming the victim.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

One complicating factor in interpreting Eliphaz the Temanite’s first speech is that parts of it agree with other passages in the Hebrew Bible–Psalms and Proverbs, in particular.  Yet, in this context, Eliphaz the Temanite is a bad friend desperately affirming his orthodoxy–his received wisdom–in the face of a man whose plight contradicts it.

Do you think mere words deserve censure,

desperate speech, that the wind blows away?

Soon you will be casting lots for an orphan,

and selling your friend at bargain prices.”

–Job 6:26-27, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

Job’s complaint about his supposed friends’ attitude is justifiable.

I detect a practical application from these chapters.  It is relevant to the other speeches of supposed friends, also.  That lesson is to comfort the afflicted, not to lecture them.  It is to function as an agent of grace and compassion, not to shore up one’s received wisdom.  That application, boiled down, is this:  Do love.  Be love.  And refrain from being a jerk.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 24, 2022 COMMON ERA

THANKSGIVING DAY (U.S.A.)

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANDREW DUNG-LAC AND PETER THI, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS IN VIETNAM, 1839

THE FEAST OF LUCY MENZIES, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN THEN ANGLICAN SCHOLAR AND MYSTIC

THE FEAST OF SAINT THEOPHANE VENARD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, MISSIONARY, AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM, 1861

THE FEAST OF SAINT VINCENT LIEM, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR IN VIETNAM, 1861

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Posted November 24, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Job 3-7

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Job’s Complaint   1 comment

READING THE BOOK OF JOB

PART II

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Job 3:1-26 and 4:12-21

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The complexity of the Book of Job extends to the arrangement of the material.  For example, 4:12-21, despite seeming to be in the mouth of Eliphaz the Temanite, fits better in the mouth of Job instead.  These verses depict YHWH as an excessive finder of faults.  This perspective contradicts chapters 1 and 2, in which Satan, YHWH’s overzealous loyalty tester, excessively seeks faults.  Recall, O reader, that one definition of irony is that the audience knows information a character lacks.

Annul the day that I was born

and the night that said, “A man is conceived.”

–Job 3:3, Robert Alter

The Hebrew verb Alter translates as “annul” literally means to die or to be lost.  Hence, “perish” is the standard translation in English.  Alter writes that “perish,” although accurate semantically, lacks the directness of the Hebrew verb.  And “annul” is consistent with the rest of chapter 3.

I have known valleys of spiritual darkness so deep that I have prayed for death.  Then I have sworn profanely upon waking up.

Perhaps you, O reader, remember occasions when you have felt the same way.  If we live long enough, such times may be par for the course.  But so is grace; we are never alone in such times.  God is with us, even when God seems remote.  And God is not an excessive fault-finder, despite how one may feel or what one may have learned.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 23, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CLEMENT I, BISHOP OF ROME

THE FEAST OF CASPAR FRIEDRICH NACHTENHOFER, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ENRICHETTA ALFIERI, ITALIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN AND “ANGEL OF SAN VITTORE”

THE FEAST OF JOHN KENNETH PFOHL, SR., U.S. MORAVIAN BISHOP; HIS WIFE, HARRIET ELIZABETH “BESSIE” WHITTINGTON PFOHL, U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN; AND THEIR SON, JAMES CHRISTIAN PFOHL, SR., U.S. MORAVIAN MUSICIAN

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Posted November 23, 2022 by neatnik2009 in Job 1-2, Job 3-7

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The Prologue of the Book of Job   2 comments

READING THE BOOK OF JOB

PART I

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Job 1 and 2

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PRELIMINARY STATEMENTS

The introduction to the Book of Job in The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014), describes this ancient text as a

complex and composite work.

That is an understatement.  For example, the flow of the story at the end of chapter 31 leads directly into chapter 38, but someone interjected chapters 32-37.  Furthermore, chapter 28 seems to belong to the Elihu material, also.  Even if chapter 28 does not belong to the Elihu cycle, it still comes out of left field relative to what surrounds it.

The Book of Job, which most likely dates to after the Babylonian Exile, fits into the regional literary motif of the pious sufferer.  More than one ancient text reflecting this motif exists.  So, once more, the Bible contains literature similar to writings from neighboring cultures.  This should surprise nobody; cultures influence each other, especially when they are near other.

I have no interest in dissecting the Book of Job line by line; rather, I stand back and look at the big picture.  I choose to focus on the forest and to zoom in on some trees.  Besides, this project is not the first time I have blogged regarding the Book of Job.  One hundred-nineteen lectionary-based posts at this weblog contain tags that link them to the Book of Job.  This project is, however, the first time I am blogging my way through the Book of Job from the first verse to the last one.

My translations and guides for this journey through the Book of Job are:

  1. The Jerusalem Bible (1966).  This is my primary translation because J. R. R. Tolkien worked on the translation of this book in that version.
  2. TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985, 1999), as contained in The Jewish Study Bible, Second Edition (2014).
  3. Robert Alter’s translation in The Hebrew Bible:  A Translation with Commentary (2019).
  4. Samuel Terrien and Paul Scherer, writing in The Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 3 (1954).
  5. Carol A. Newsom, writing in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 4 (1996).

Now, without further ado, I turn to the Prologue of the Book of Job.

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GOD, HASATAN, AND JOB

The Book of Job opens with a prose prologue, just as it closes with a prose epilogue.  The prologue establishes the setting in the Transjordan, during the age of the patriarchs.  Yet the Book of Job mimics an archaic literary style and indicates familiarity with Second and Third Isaiah.

This story, told as a folktale, is not historical.  It, theological, is mostly poetic.  The Book of Job is, in the highest meaning of the word, a myth.  The Book of Job is not literally true, but it contains truth.  Part of the interpretive complexity of the book comes from nauseating gas bags (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite) sounding like passages from the books of Psalms and Proverbs.  They are obnoxious pains in every part of human anatomy, but they do speak a truth on occasion despite themselves.

We read of the lavish lifestyle of Job and his family.  They are spectacularly wealthy.  Banquets that continue for day after day are commonplace.  The siblings live harmoniously with each other and their parents.  The story tells us that Job performs a priestly function on behalf of his offspring; he sacrifices in case any of them have sinned.  Job is a devout monotheist who cares deeply for his family.

We read also of the “sons of God”–in this case–angels, members of the heavenly court.  This is a rewritten vestige of pagan divine councils, commonplace in that part of the world in antiquity.  In this context we meet the Adversary, hasatan (the Satan), who had yet to transform into a rogue in Jewish theology and to become the archenemy of God in apocalyptic literature.

One may recall the story of Balaam in Numbers 22-24.  The story about the talking donkey in 22:22-35 is intriguing, to say the least.  In that story, the donkey, sees the Adversary/the angel of YHWH standing in the road in 22:22-27.  Then Balaam sees the heavenly figure in 22:31. Balaam and the Adversary converse afterward.  Hasatan works for God in Numbers 22.

The Book of Job comes from a time in the history of theology when the Adversary/the Satan was a loyal servant of God.  The job of hasatan in Job 1 and 2 is to test the loyalty of the people of God, modeled here after a King of the Persian Empire, a man who employed loyalty testers throughout the realm.  The Book of Job comes from a transitional time in the doctrine of Satan; hasatan seems to derive too much satisfaction from his job.  Robert Alter points to the Satan’s

cynical mean-spiritedness.

Yet the Satan does nothing without divine permission.  He still works for God.

Hasatan continues to fulfill the role of accuser in Zechariah 3:1, also from the Persian period.  However, Zechariah 3 indicates a shift toward the Satan as rogue:

He showed me Joshua the high priest, standing before the angel of Yahweh, with Satan standing on his right to accuse him.  The angel of Yahweh said to Satan, “May Yahweh rebuke you, Satan, may Yahweh rebuke you, he who has made Jerusalem his very own.  Is not this man a brand snatched from the fire?”

–Zechariah 3:1-2, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

During the Persian period, the Satan came to resemble Ahriman, the evil one in Zoroastrianism.  One culture influenced another one.

The history of the doctrine is objective, documented, and not subject to dispute.  The question of the truth behind the doctrine is theological.  Truth with a capital T does exist regarding this matter.  I think I know what that truth is.  Whether I agree with God is a matter for God to say.

For the record, I think that Jewish theology, under Zoroastrian influence, finally got the doctrine right.

The Book of Job tells us that YHWH allows Job to suffer and innocents to die.  The Book of Job tells us that YHWH permits all this to happen as part of a wager with hasatan, the overzealous, cynical loyalty tester.  Job 1 and 2 portray YHWH negatively.  This is anthropomorphic understanding of YHWH.

Anthropomorphizing God is unavoidable; we mere mortals have our cultural perspectives and carry assumptions.  Yet me must, if we are spiritually honest, acknowledge that God is far greater and far more than we can imagine.

The Prologue to the Book of Job raises a question germane to each of us:  Why do we revere God, if we do?  Do we practice a quid pro quo faith life?

“Yes,” Satan said, “but Job is not God-fearing for nothing, is he?”

–Job 1:9, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

The omniscient narrative voice in the Book of Job does not ask why the righteous suffer.  No, it tells us why Job suffers.  The alleged friends think they know why Job suffers.  The titular character rejects their theory and knows who is ultimately responsible for his suffering–God.  The Book of Job does ask each of us why we are devout, assuming that one is pious, of course.  Is this faith relationship that one that mistakes God for a vending machine or a sugar daddy?  Or is this faith relationship one that survives crises and other hardships.

The ending of the prologue introduces us to three friends–Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.  One of my favorite puns tells me that Bildad the Shuhite was the shortest man in the Bible.  (I did not make up that joke.  I do groan at it, though.)  Seriously, though, the subsequent poetic chapters reveal that a famous question applies to the Book of Job.  That query is,

With friends like these, who needs enemies?

I invite you, O reader, to remain beside me on this journey through the Book of Job.  We will hear from Job–the man himself–in the next installment.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 22, 2022 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ROBERT SEAGRAVE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANNA KOLESÁROVÁ, SLOVAK ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYR, 1944

THE FEAST OF DITLEF GEORGSON RISTAD, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN TRANSLATOR, LITURGIST, AND EDUCATOR

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Mutuality in God IV   Leave a comment

Above:  St. Augustine of Hippo, by Ambito Lombardo

Image in the Public Domain

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For the Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year 2

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Lectionary from A Book of Worship for Free Churches (The General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches in the United States, 1948)

Collect from The Book of Worship (Evangelical and Reformed Church, 1947)

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O God, who in the glorious Transfiguration of thy only begotten Son,

hast confirmed the mysteries of the faith by the testimony of the fathers,

and who, in the voice that came from the bright cloud,

didst in a wonderful manner vouchsafe to make us co-heirs with the King of his glory,

and bring us to the enjoyment of the same;

through the same Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord,

who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit,

ever one God, world without end.  Amen.

The Book of Worship (1947), 134

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Job 28:1-28

Psalm 119:49-64

1 Corinthians 10:1-14

Matthew 15:14-29

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How should one interpret Job 28?  It does not flow from Chapter 27.  “He” (God) in 28:3 has no antecedent in Job 27.  And the identity of the speaker is uncertain.  Chapter 28 sits between Job 27 and Job 29, of the titular character.  Is the speaker Job, one of his alleged friends, or someone else?

The identity of the speaker is crucial.  To know who speaks in a particular passage of the Book of Job is to know how to read or hear that passage.  Job’s alleged friends are objectively wrong on many points within the Book of Job and within the full canon of Jewish scripture.  Yet they are right sometimes, too.  To quote a cliché, 

A broken clock is right twice a day.

A note in The Jewish Study Bible hypothesizes that the speaker is Elihu, a character shoe-horned into the Book of Job between Job’s concluding argument to God (at the end of Chapter 31) and the beginning of God’s reply to job in Chapter 38.  The epilogue to the Book of Job names Eliphz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite (42:9) yet never Elihu.

[God] said to man,

“See!  Fear of the Lord is wisdom;

To shun evil is understanding.

–Job 28:28, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

That verse is consistent with Psalm 119.

The trials you have had to bear are no more than people normally have.  You can trust God not to let you be tried beyond your strength, and with any trial he will give you a way out of it and the strength to bear it.

–1 Corinthians 10:13, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

I have heard a consistent misinterpretation of that verse for many years.  

To read “you” as singular is wrong.  1 Corinthians is a letter to a congregation, not an individual.  Individualistic assumptions of my Western culture may lead one to misread and mishear “you” as singular.  Reading the passage in a romance language helps to clear up the matter, too.

Aucune tentation ne vous est survenue qui n’ait été humaine; Dieu est est fidèle et ne permettra pas que vous soyez téntes au-delà de vos forces….

–1 Corinthiens 10:13a, Nouvelle Version Segond Révisée (1978)

Vous is plural, not formal singular, in this case.

Within the context of faith community, all the necessary spiritual resources exist.  The variety of spiritual gifts and the presence of God can fulfill each person’s spiritual needs.  Mutuality remains a theme.

Regarding Matthew 15:21-28, I refer you, O reader, to the category for Matthew 15.  Follow it to find my analysis of that story.

I prefer to focus on another aspect of the Gospel reading.  The dark side of human nature defiles one–makes one unclean–makes one “common,” as J. B. Phillips translated the Greek word.  The list in Matthew 19 is representative, not comprehensive.  One may ask what fornication, theft, perjury, and slander have in common.  They are ways to harm others–emotionally, legally, socially, economically, and physically.  They work against the model of mutuality in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

To tie up the readings with a figurative bow, mutuality fits with Job 28:28 and Psalm 119.  We should shun evil, individually and collectively.  And standing in awe of God (a better translation than “fearing God”) is wisdom.

As St. Augustine of Hippo wrote at length and more eloquently than I write, those who love God as they should can do whatever they want and still please God.  They want to live in faith community defined by mutuality.  These spiritual giants want to help, not harm.  They are in tune with God.

I make no pretense of being one of these spiritual giants.  I do, however, know in visceral, practical terms how mutuality works in a congregation.  I know how to give and receive.  Both are blessings from God.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 10, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE TWELFTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF KARL BARTH, SWISS REFORMED MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR; AND HIS SON, MARKUS BARTH, SWISS LUTHERAN MINISTER AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF HOWELL ELVET LEWIS, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST CLERGYMAN AND POET

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN ROBERTS, WELSH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYR, 1610

THE FEAST OF PAUL EBER, GERMAN LUTHERAN THEOLOGIAN AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF ROBERT MURRAY, CANADIAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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I Know That My Redeemer Liveth   1 comment

Above:  The Angel in the Empty Tomb

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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The Assigned Readings:

Acts 2:42-47 or Job 19:7-27c

Psalm 118:1-2, 14-24

1 Corinthians 15:12-20

Mark 16:1-8

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Ah, that these words of mine were written down,

inscribed on some monument

with iron chisel and engraving tool,

cut into the rock for ever.

This I know:  that my Avenger lives,

and he, the Last, will take his stand on earth.

After my awaking, he will set me close to him,

and from my flesh I shall look upon God.

He, whom I shall see will take my part:

these eyes will gaze on him and find him not aloof.

My heart within me sinks…

You, then, that mutter, “How shall we track him down,

what pretext shall we find against him?”

may well fear the sword on your own account.

There is an anger stirred to flame by evil deeds;

you will learn that there is indeed a judgment.

–Job 19:23-29, The Jerusalem Bible (1966)

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In the context of the Book of Job in its final form, the continued faith of Job, afflicted with divine consent by the loyalty tester (the Satan) then rejected by surviving relatives and insulted repeatedly by so-called friends, makes little sense.  The Avenger/Vindicator/Redeemer, or kinsman-redeemer who was to avenge innocent blood, had to be God, for whom the alleged friends presumed to speak.  One irony in the Book of Job, in its final form, is that we who read Chapters 1, 2, and 42 know that Elihu, Zophar, Bildad, and Eliphaz were wrong when claiming that God protects the innocent, in Job’s case.  Yet Job still trusts in God.

The reading of this passage on Easter Sunday makes sense.  Did not the resurrection of Jesus vindicate him?  And does it not vindicate we who, in faith, accept his resurrection?

Job’s attitude, in contrast to the forgiving spirit of Jesus on the cross, is understandable.  Job’s attitude also vindicates the human need for justice.  God will judge and show mercy as God deems appropriate.

The Gospel of Mark originally ended with,

…and they were terrified

at the empty tomb.  Such fear was understandable; the women at the tomb had no hindsight regarding the resurrection of Jesus.  Hindsight was impossible at the time.

I try to minimize how much I anthropomorphize God.  Some of it is unavoidable, given human perspective.  To a great extent, God is, for lack of a better word, other–not quite unknowable, but still other.  The somewhat unknowable other terrifies us sometimes, even in showing extreme mercy, for we do not understand.  With hindsight, however, we can find reasons to rejoice, not fear.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ISABEL FLORENCE HAPGOOD, U.S. JOURNALIST, TRANSLATOR, AND ECUMENIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDRA GIACINTO LONGHIN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF TREVISO

THE FEAST OF PHILIP DODDRIDGE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF VIRGIL MICHEL, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ACADEMIC, AND PIONEER OF LITURGICAL RENEWAL

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Adapted from this post:

https://lenteaster.wordpress.com/2019/06/26/devotion-for-easter-sunday-year-b-humes/

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Grace, Part I   3 comments

Above:  Landscape with the Parable of the Sower, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 42:1-17 or Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Psalm 48

James 5:12-20

Mark 4:1-20

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At the end of the Season After the Epiphany or the beginning of the Season After Pentecost (depending on the year), we finish hopping and skipping through three books–Job, Deuteronomy, and James.  If we pay attention, we notice that Job granted his daughters the right to inherit from his estate–a revolutionary move at that time and place.

Overall, when we add Psalm 48 and Mark 4:1-20 to the mix, we detect a thread of the goodness of God present in all the readings.  Related to divine goodness is the mandate to respond positively to grace in various ways, as circumstances dictate.  The principle is universal, but the applications are circumstantial.

Consider, O reader the parable in our reading from Mark 4.  The customary name is the Parable of the Sower, but the Parable of the Four Soils is a better title.  The question is not about the effectiveness of the sower but about the four soils.  Are we distracted soil?  Are we soil that does not retain faith in the face of tribulation or persecution?  Are we soil into which no roots sink?  Or are we good soil?  Do we respond positively to grace, which is free yet not cheap, or do we not?

Job 42:11 tells that all Job’s “friends of former times” visited him and “showed him every sympathy.”  (Job is a literary character, of course, so I do not mistake him for a historical figure.)  I imagine Zophar, Bildad, Eliphaz, and even Elihu, who went away as quickly as he arrived, having realized their errors, dining with Job in shalom.  That is indeed a scene of grace.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 19, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES ARTHUR MACKINNON, CANADIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

THE FEAST OF ALFRED RAMSEY, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF CHARITIE LEES SMITH BANCROFT DE CHENEZ, HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM PIERSON MERRILL, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, SOCIAL REFORMER, AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/devotion-for-the-ninth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b-humes/

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Friendship V   3 comments

Above:  Job and His Alleged Friends, a Fresco

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Job 5:6-23 or Deuteronomy 5:6-21

Psalm 41

James 2:1-17

Mark 1:29-45

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The Law of Moses, unlike the older Code of Hammurabi, to which it bears some similarity, does not bring social class into consideration.  No, the Law of Moses is impartial regarding the socio-economic status of both the victim and the perpetrator.  In the Code of Hammurabi, for example, the same crime (theft or assault, for example) leads to a harsher penalty when the victim belongs to a higher social class.  In the Law of Moses, however, the penalty is the same, regardless of anyone’s socio-economic status.  That ethic of socio-economic impartiality carries over into James 2:1-7.

The Hillelian distillation of the Law of Moss comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (the Shema).  How we love God, assuming that we do, manifests in how we treat each other.  Hypocrisy is as old as human nature.  Pious fronts belie both evil intentions and lesser disregard and carelessness.  Often those who violate the Golden Rule do so while imagining that they are honoring God.  Eliphaz the Temanite and the other so-called friends of Job (who remind me of, “with friends like these, who needs enemies?”) sound like the Book of Psalms much of the time.  That fact complicates the interpretation of much of the Book of Job.  The best answer I can offer is that what they said applied in certain circumstances, but not that one.

If we were less concerned about who is wright and about insisting that we are right, and if we were more concerned about being good friends to one another, we could fulfill the spirit of most of the assigned texts for today.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 14, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES AUGUSTUS BRIGGS, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, EPISCOPAL PRIEST, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR, AND ALLEGED HERETIC; AND HIS DAUGHTER, EMILIE GRACE BRIGGS, BIBLICAL SCHOLAR AND “HERETIC’S DAUGHTER”

THE FEAST OF SAINT METHODIUS I OF CONSTANTINOPLE, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND ECUMENICAL PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE; AND SAINT JOSEPH THE HYMNOGRAPHER, DEFENDER OF ICONS AND “SWEET-VOICED NIGHTINGALE OF THE CHURCH”

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM HIRAM FOULKES, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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Adapted from this post:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2019/06/14/devotion-for-the-fourth-sunday-after-the-epiphany-year-b-humes/

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