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Job and the God Who Refuses To Answer

This will be my last post in this thread within a thread on Job.  I ended my last post by pointing out that near the end of the poetic dialogues (chs. 3-42a), Job pleads to have a chance to defend himself before God himself.  Before he is granted – or made to suffer – such a chance, another so-called friend, Elihu appears and states forcefully the view of all the “friends,” that Job is suffering because he has committed sins and God is punishing him.

This is where I pick up the plot in my book God’s Problem, as I set out the ultimate view of suffering for the author of these backs-and-forths, the view that becomes clear only when God blasts Job with his Almighty presence.


Job has no time – or need – to reply to this restatement of his friends’ views.  Before he can respond, God himself appears, in power, to overwhelm Job with his presence and to cower him into submission in the dirt.  God does not appear with a still, small voice from heaven, or in human guise, or in a comforting dream.  He sends a violent and terrifying whirlwind, and speaks to Job out of it, roaring out his reprimand:

Who is this that darkens council by words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man,

I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?

Tell me, if you have understanding.

Who determined its measurements – surely you know!

Or who stretched the line upon it?

On what were its bases sunk,

or who laid its cornerstone

when the morning stars sang together

and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?… (38:2-7)

In his anger, God reproves Job for thinking that he, a mere mortal, can contend with the one who created the world and all that is in it.  God is the Almighty, unanswerable to those who live their petty existence here on earth.  He asks Job a series of impossible questions, meant to grind him into submission before his divine omnipotence….

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Dinner With Me? A Blog Idea.
Was Job Really Innocent?



  1. godspell  April 18, 2017

    I think Job gives the same answer as Ecclesiastes, but in a different form, that bothers some people on a personal level. Including you, but arguably, the work that bothers you more is the superior work, since it has made you think more deeply, provoked a stronger reaction. Ecclesiastes is a more contemplative work, more philosophical. Job confronts suffering in a way Ecclesiastes never does. Whoever wrote Job knew much more about suffering–and the anger and incomprehension it engenders–than whoever wrote Ecclesiastes. Philosophy can only comfort us so much when we lose everything we love, and our bodies fail us. Philosophy is a fine diversion for those who are comfortable, educated, abstracted from the cares that afflict the poor and miserable.

    Did you ever see the film The Incredible Shrinking Man? Based on a novel by Richard Matheson. The hero, an ordinary decent man with a good marriage, is bathed in a radioactive mist (it’s the 1950’s) and starts to shrink. He’s very bitter about it, makes his wife miserable, while she tries to comfort and care for him. Finally, he’s so small that he’s lost entirely, can no longer communicate with other people. Utterly alone. And then he has a revelation–that no matter how small he is, he still exists. Everything is small in relation to the cosmos. Everyone is equally significant, and everyone is equally insignificant. He lets go of his anger, and accepts his fate.

    In Job, God is the entire cosmos–all that is, was, and will be. God is the creator of all and the destroyer of all. Not the kind loving father, nor a sadistic tormentor (clearly God gets no pleasure from Job’s torment, and neither did the Adversary). Beyond good, beyond evil. But why should it matter more to them than the torment of a mouse caught in a trap? Why do we place so much more value on our suffering than on that of others? Why can’t we see that everyone is equally significant, equally insignificant?

    Confronted by the sheer majesty of the universe he inhabits, his utter helplessness before it, Job accepts his place in it, accepts that he can’t control his destiny, and that is his victory–perhaps it’s a bit convenient that he gets back everything he lost, but he who loses his life shall save it.

    Our inability to accept our limits is killing our world. We surround ourselves in possessions and pleasures, trying to deny that we are small weak mortal creatures, no better than any other living thing. Our hubris threatens to destroy all life on this world, and we continue, blindly, in pure selfishness and narcissism (embodied by the current leader of the ‘free world’, who wouldn’t like the Book of Job either, I bet, if he ever read it, which he never will).

    You’re not supposed to like the God in Job. But you have to accept that the authors of this work were confronting, in a very powerful and courageous way, certain insoluble dilemmas of our existence. They considered all the various explanations for suffering, and they ultimately reject them all. They accept the smallness of human beings, and that all joys must be balanced out with sorrow. But we still exist. And without some creative force in the universe, that we might as well call God–there would be no pain, and no joy either. There would be nothing. Would that be better?

  2. fishician  April 18, 2017

    Job and his friends never mention Satan as a source of suffering, only God. Doesn’t this support the idea that early Hebrews saw God as the source of both good and evil and that the concept of Satan came later, and was therefore added onto the beginning of the book?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017


      • godspell  April 20, 2017

        Except that didn’t what we now call Judaism begin as a polytheistic religion (that presumably included evil deities, demons, what have you–what we find in most if not all religions, to explain the existence of evil, though Trickster gods are rather ambiguous in this regard), and evolve towards Yahweh, originally a Moon God, becoming the only deity, and all other supernatural beings extremely subordinate to him?

        So having made their God the only God, they went back the other way, and then back again, looking for the right formula, never quite finding it? In taxonomic biology, this trend is called splitting and lumping, but I suppose any scientists reading this would be cross with me for making the analogy. 😉

    • godspell  April 20, 2017

      If Satan works for God, and does nothing without God’s okay, God is still responsible. God is the CEO, and Satan is just the one who shows up with the pink slips.

      The idea of angels is very old. I’d say the real split came with the idea that Satan and other angels had rebelled and been cast out from heaven, partly because they were jealous of the attention given to Adam and his descendants, but this clearly happened after all of Job had been written.

  3. Seeker1952  April 18, 2017

    Are there any deep and thoughtful comparisons of Job and Jesus? Jesus’s end is rather similar to this extended episode in Job’s life. Jesus is innocent but suffers horribly. However, as the story is told in the gospels, Jesus’s suffering has a purpose, ie, saving humanity from just punishment for their sins. And, perhaps in part because his suffering has a purpose, Jesus trusts God and accepts the divine will. Both stories go on to have happy endings. So the change is that suffering has a purpose, somehow it helps others, perhaps by reducing their suffering? Catholics have been taught to offer up their suffering for the poor souls in purgatory.

    • Seeker1952  April 18, 2017

      I suppose I’m getting carried away but maybe the theological development in the gospels would be that the undeserved suffering of the innocent reduces the deserved suffering of the evil, ie, that’s the explanation/justification for the former. So suffering results from the acts of the evil but is shared by all (or, if not all, then randomly shared). Unfortunately, a lot of suffering is not in fact due to evil human acts but to an indifferent nature.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      Interesting idea! I haven’t seen anything like this, but it does make some sense.

    • godspell  April 20, 2017

      I definitely do not see that idea in Job, but I can see a connection between the stories, in terms of both men crying out to God in their misery. Difference is, Jesus wasn’t just standing around, living a nice life. He had no possessions, no wife, no children, little day-to-day contact with his family (who were not particularly afflicted, anyway). Jesus SOUGHT OUT the fate he received, expected it, engaged in actions he expected to cause it. Then he (perhaps) expected God to step in and do something about it. Perhaps transform the world into the Kingdom Jesus had preached about. When he asks God why he’s been forsaken, he’s asking why God isn’t manifesting himself, or speaking to him personally. All he hears is silence. The Voice that spoke to him when he was baptized is absent. That’s how I interpret it, anyway. Obviously the gospel story in its entirety tells us Jesus was justified in his faith, raised up into heaven. But the story in its most basic form says Jesus died in agony and despair.

      Job is sorely tested, but he is not forsaken. God comes to him, in all his majesty, and tells him he has done nothing wrong, and that his suffering is not punishment. It’s just the lot of all finite creatures to suffer and die. Why should we be treated differently than all other living things that live and die without questioning God’s will? Problem is, as George Burns pointed out, we’re always remembering the past, and wondering about the future, so we can’t simply live in the moment, as our fellow creatures mainly do.

      Presumably Job (if he’d really existed, and I don’t think the storytellers mean us to believe he did) still ultimately suffered and died, because we all do. And before we die, we suffer misfortunes. It’s not a punishment. It’s just the way of Life. We don’t have to like it. It’s not a failure of faith if we’re not happy about it. We must simply endure it. We endure all the joys and good fortune of life without much thinking about it. Pleasure will be paid, one time or another. That’s not Job, btw. That’s Shakespeare. 😉

  4. Benjamin
    Benjamin  April 18, 2017

    It is absurd. till the end of time, suffering is absurd. What say you, O Eminent Ehrman? I had just buried my dad. My sister died 6 months ago.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      I’m so sorry to hear about your losses. Yes, much suffering is senseless, especially premature death. All best wishes from this end.

    • godspell  April 20, 2017

      My father died last October. I don’t find suffering absurd, though I certainly have no problem with laughing in the face of death, being of Irish descent.

      It’s good to mourn those we’ve lost, but I can never really escape the feeling we’re just sublimating our own fears of our own eventual fates by doing so.

      To live is to die. No life without death. No pleasure without pain. No good without evil. That is the truth, and the truth is never absurd. Merely the denial of it.

  5. Salvador Perez  April 18, 2017

    Hello Dr Ehrman
    Can you please explain why “the bet” between God and the accuser is not mentioned during the audience?
    and neither is the accuser either even though they both are essential to answer Job’s reason for suffering

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      Sorry, I don’t know what you mean by “during the audience”

      • Salvador Perez  April 20, 2017

        I mean “the audience” when God finally spoke to Job and gave him the “where were you when…” sermon

        • Bart
          Bart  April 21, 2017

          Oh, I see what you’re asking. God doesn’t mention the wager because the wager occurs in the narrative, written by a different author, not in the poetry, where God provides Job with an audience.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  April 20, 2017

      The assumption is that Job and his friends are unaware of the wager between God and Satan, hence the dialogue between them trying to figure why God has made Job to suffer. It’s what literary experts call dramatic irony.

  6. dankoh  April 18, 2017

    It’s ironic, then, that we can now give answers to many of God’s rhetorical questions!

    As for your point about man being made in the image of God and therefore could (should?) follow this version of God as a model. . . The way out of that is to point out that God gave us a whole set of rules precisely so we would NOT try to behave like Him. (“Do as I say, not as I do.”)

  7. godspell  April 18, 2017

    One question, since you’re winding this down.

    If life was perfect–if we all lived long happy prosperous lives, without illness, without the grief of losing those we love, without oppression, without cruelty (that mainly comes from other humans)–would there be any religious beliefs?

    People say “Why would a just God allow suffering? I won’t worship any God who is good with that.” Okay, but you wouldn’t NEED any God, or any type of faith to fall back on, if you never suffered, would you? And people tend to let go of things that don’t serve or flatter them in some way. Catch-22.

    It’s our inability to fully control our lives, our environments, that makes us turn to a higher power. Even addicts, unable to control their cravings, turn to a higher power, however they individually interpret that phrase.

    Religious faith has diminished greatly in the last century–but mainly among the well-off. Among the people benefiting from technological society, from longer lifespans, better medicine, more access to food, and these days most of us don’t even have to worry about being drafted to go to war. No theists without foxholes? It’s not that simple, obviously, and there are many exceptions in both directions, but that’s the overwhelming trend. Rich people dabble in religion. Poor people need it. A very large number of humans are still very poor, ridden with disease, plagued by violence and oppression and injustice. And they still tend to be religious. And it doesn’t look like they’re going anywhere. And as robots start doing more and more of our jobs, how many of us will be joining them?

    And Job will be there, waiting. To remind us nobody, God least of all, ever said life was fair. It’s as fair as we make it. No more, no less.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      Yes, maybe so. But I don’t see why millions of people should be literally starving to death to make it possible for me to have faith. It’s suffering in extremis that creates problems for me.

      • godspell  April 20, 2017

        That’s a bit like saying that bacteria exist so penicillin could be invented.

        If we could find a way to get rid of pain, privation, and death–of both the physical and spiritual type, and the latter might prove much harder to defeat., often paradoxically increases as we grow healthier and wealthier–then perhaps we would need no faith (except perhaps in ourselves, which can be hardest of all).

        If I may quote from a modern interpretation of a different belief system–

        //Zeus: Perseus has won. My son has triumphed.

        Hera: A fortunate young man.

        Zeus: Fortune is ally to the brave.

        Thetis: What a dangerous precedent. What if there more heroes like him? What if courage and imagination became everyday mortal qualities? What will become of us?

        Zeus: We would no longer be needed. But, for the moment, there is sufficient cowardice, sloth and mendacity down there on Earth to last forever. //

        Hail Zeus.


    • HawksJ  April 20, 2017

      {{If life was perfect–if we all lived long happy prosperous lives, without illness, without the grief of losing those we love, without oppression, without cruelty (that mainly comes from other humans)–would there be any religious beliefs?}}

      So, are you suggesting that god created/allows suffering so that we would need him? Or are you suggesting that suffering is worth it because it makes people ‘religious’?

  8. talmoore
    talmoore  April 18, 2017

    In other words, God is the ultimate father figure. “You do as I say and without the backtalk, ya hear?”

    A better defense of Divine Command Theory cannot be made.

  9. bamurray  April 18, 2017

    “Shut up he explained.” (Ring Lardner, The Young Immigrants)

  10. cheito
    cheito  April 18, 2017

    Dr Ehrman:

    Your comment:

    It cannot be overlooked that in the divine response from the whirlwind to Job’s passionate and desperate plea for understanding why he, an innocent man, is suffering so horribly, no answer is in fact given. God does not explain why Job suffers. He simply asserts that he is the Almighty and, as such, cannot be questioned.

    My Question:

    Is the “divine” response to Job to be considered the response of God himself, or the notion of the author, who believed that God would answer Job with the words he imagined in his fictional account?

    Your comment:

    It may be that Job’s problem is that he has read the Wisdom literature (Proverbs) and the Prophets, and thinks there must be a connection between sin and punishment — since otherwise it doesn’t make sense to him that he is suffering. Maybe he should have read the book of Ecclesiastes instead. For there we find the view that suffering does not come for known causes or known reasons. Suffering just comes, and we need to deal with it as best we can.

    My Questions:

    Do we really know when Job existed?

    Did Job have access to the writings of the proverbs of Solomon or the prophecies of the prophets?

    Are we to base our faith in God on the conclusions and worldviews of the authors of the books of Ecclesiastes and Job?

    Is the author of Ecclesiastes speaking the words of God himself?

    Did God tell the author of Ecclesiastes that there’s no life after death, or that suffering does not come for known causes or known reasons?

    It may be that you’re confusing the words of men for the words of God DR Ehrman

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. I think when authors of the Bible record what God said, they’re not really recording what God said. They’re recording what they imagined God said, or would have said.

      • cheito
        cheito  April 20, 2017

        I’ll agree with you, DR Ehrman, that the authors of many of the books in the ‘bible’ recorded what they imagined God Said, or would have said.

        I do not consider that the books in the bible written by these authors who wrote what they imagined God said, are the words of the Lord.

        However not all the books in the bible were written by authors who wrote out of their own inspiration.

        Some authors of the bible literally wrote down ‘the words of the Lord’, because The Lord appeared to them, and spoke to them audibly. These authors saw The Lord and heard His voice in real time, and the Lord Himself instructed them to write the words they heard, in scrolls.

        Whether it was Moses, Jeremiah or Paul, these men saw the Lord and the Lord spoke to them and commanded them, what to say and what to do.

        The writings of ‘Mark’, ‘Matthew’ and ‘Luke’, in my estimation don’t have the same authoritative clout as the writings of Moses, Jeremiah and Paul have.

        I believe The Lord Himself spoke to Moses, Jeremiah and Paul and that their words are reliable and trustworthy, despite the problems with the manuscripts.

        As for Matthew and Luke, they used the words of Mark to make up their own Jesus. The Lord did not speak to these authors, (whoever they were) nor did The Lord commissioned them to write their accounts.

        The authors of Mark, Matthew and Luke took it upon themselves to write about Jesus.

        We can’t be sure that they are quoting Jesus correctly.

        Their accounts are not historically accurate.

        I’ll give an example from one of the books in the Old Testament of what I mean.

        In The book of Exodus The Lord not only spoke to Moses and to all the children of Israel in real time, but He also wrote on tablets of stone what He had spoken audibly, and what all the children of Israel, and all those who were among them heard with their own ears. Exodus 31:18

        In Chapters 19 and 20 of exodus is recorded one of the most excellent examples of what I’m trying to relate here:

        in Exodus 19:9 The Lord tells Moses that He Himself will come and speak to Moses in the sight of all the people so that they all will hear His Voice, i.e. The Lord’s voice.

        In Exodus 19:10-11, The Lord further tells Moses to go down to the people and get them ready because on the third day He will descend on Mt Sinai in their sight.

        In Exodus 20:1-22, God speaks, The ten commandments, to Moses and the people. The people heard The Lord speaking the Ten Commandments.

        My point is that the people did not imagine that God spoke the ten commandments to Moses.

        Moses himself did not imagine that God spoke the ten commandment.

        The Lord audibly spoke the Ten Commandments and then after speaking them, He wrote them on tablets of stone! (Exodus 31:18)

        The Ten commandments are the words of God not from the imagination of Moses

        What God spoke to Job was what the author(s) of Job imagined God would have said to Job
        it was not the words of God!

        • dragonfly  April 21, 2017

          Moses didn’t write any of the books of the bible.

          • cheito
            cheito  April 23, 2017

            Moses authorship is indirect. His writings were the source documents for the editor who put together the final form of the book of Deuteronomy, Exodus and most likely the rest of the Pentateuch.

  11. Jason  April 18, 2017

    Is the final conclusion here that trying to gain a sense of the book of Job’s perspective on the afterlife is a bit like trying to get directions to Chicago from a collage of two maps, one of Ohio and the other Texas?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      Not quite: Job does have a view. There is no afterlife to make up for injustices in this life.

  12. ask21771  April 18, 2017

    In your opinion what does “Satan masquerades as an angel of light” as said in 2 corinthians 11:14 mean?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      It means evil can be nefarious and disguised as an apparent good.

  13. doug  April 18, 2017

    IMO, ff we are to be moral, we cannot avoid making moral judgements. If we believe in God and think he is exempt from our judgement of him, we have judged him already.

  14. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  April 18, 2017

    – Bart, I want to post something random. What if Jesus walked around with headphones on, and John the baptist seen him with the headphones on. What Jesus was listening to, John heard it. That would be one way he knew who was walking around ? LOL What if Jesus drove a truck and was behind you? Would you be startled ?LOL Would they move out of his way from anger of being startled, or fear first? When is your next live streaming event is the true post/ question?

  15. RonaldTaska  April 19, 2017

    It remains very puzzling to me why people would believe in this sort of nasty God much less a God involved in all of the divine killing described in the Bible. I know, I know, one can argue that this Old Testament God was an incomplete view of an ancient people who lived before Jesus, but even the New Testament contains the killing of Ananias and Sapphira and the book of Revelation is full of really horrible divine killing.

    • dragonfly  April 21, 2017

      Why not? If God appears to be an arsehole, what’s wrong with believing he is?

      • godspell  April 23, 2017

        Except that very often people we think are assholes are actually doing what needs be done–and people who tell us what we want to hear are just using us.

        Appearances can be deceiving.

  16. Silver  April 19, 2017

    In terms of the afterlife, what do you think ‘a certain ruler’ meant when he asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” ? Did he see this in terms of Jesus’ apocalyptic message and was asking about a place in a kingdom here on earth?
    Also, what is actually meant by ‘eternal life’? Does not everybody when they die have everlasting life in the sense of a ‘continuing existence’ such that some have joy for eternity (in heaven) while others have pain and torture (in hell)? If the latter group are not ‘eternally living’ then they will not feel their punishment. Certainly the ‘saved’ will not literally be experiencing eternal life UNLESS they are to do so in an earthly kingdom like that which you argue Jesus anticipated.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      He appears to have meant — “how can I have life forever in heaven in the presence of God and his angels.”

  17. sheila0405  April 19, 2017

    The problem with suffering is the foundation of my own agnostic atheism. In my life, God never made his presence known or knowable. Learning about the real history of the Bible while desperately seeking God in its pages was my last straw. I was 60. My search stretched out over decades.

  18. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  April 19, 2017

    Bart, Barnabas born Joseph used to get drunk and talk about GOD? Have you ever heard of the saying… Deny to his son Lord Dionysus!!!!!!! Feel Zeus in your temple like thunder and lightning. Hades the devil is powerful. Zeus just might send those. Read your bible

    l AM<

    For all things I say come true… Touched by Zeus,…..

  19. Hume  April 20, 2017

    Hi Bart, there are many difficulties that arise with this statement since Genesis only records two children of Adam and Eve to this point-Cain and Abel. The issues to be considered are these:

    1)If all humanity descended from Adam and Eve, then where did his wife come from?

    2)In addition, where did all the people come from that are mentioned in the account?

    3)If Cain married a relative, then doesn’t this indicate incest?

    4)If Cain married his sister, then wouldn’t we expect any offspring to suffer degenerative effects?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 20, 2017

      Yup, these are all problems. Or as we used to ask: did Adam have a navel?

      • Wilusa  April 20, 2017

        I don’t spend time reading the Bible, but didn’t Adam and Eve supposedly have a third son, Seth?

        In the Bible I have (a Catholic version, circa 1950), a Note “explains” that under those special circumstances – no one else existing – the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve were permitted to mate and have offspring with their siblings. Guess they never thought of the other possibilities: Adam mating with their daughters, and a pre-menopausal Eve with their sons!

    • talmoore
      talmoore  April 20, 2017

      In the Book of Jubilees the sons of Adam and Eve literally marry and procreate with their sisters. This appears to be a work by intertestimental Jews meant to answer those questions. Unfortunately, this answer means we are all the descendents of incest.

      • dragonfly  April 23, 2017

        “My daddy’s payin’ for this wedding.”

        “Hey! He’s my daddy too!”

  20. John1003  April 20, 2017

    Job 42:1-6 seems to indicate that God is taking responsibility for his suffering. “No purpose of his can be restrained” it also seems to indicate Job is not merely bowing before his power, but more fundamentally that Job recognizes that he lacks knowledge that Only God has. Verse 3 says I have rashly utterd things I did not understand , things too wonderful for me which I did not know. He uses the word wonderful.

    The same person that went on and on about Gods power by use of the whirlwind also wrote chp 42:1-6. Shouldn’t we be looking at that passage to find the real lesson of Job. Isn’t the poet now interpreting the meaning of all that rhetoric from the whirlwind.

    Job 42:1-6 seems to leave alot of room for interpretation but it seems like Job would call the purposes of God wonderful and instructive. I think verse 5-6 implies that he repents in ashes for questioning God’s Character.

    Those six verses could have simply recorded Job throwing himself at God’s mercy because God is so powerful, he should not even question him. Thats not the conclusion of the writer of Job in verse 1-6.

    • John1003  April 28, 2017

      I can see your passionate about this subject. I have read your article several times and its very well thought out. I have also given this particular issue alot of thought. You put alot of emphasis on Job ultimately bowing to God’s power but I am reading 42:1-6 as emphasizing Job’s lack of understanding in Gods ways. He ask God to instruct him. I am not making the larger argument that God can do whatever he wants. I am saying that the final chapter of Job emphasizes Gods greater knowledge and understanding than man. In the first two verses Job just acknowledges Gods overwhelming power as obvious and Goes on to the real point. god has understanding and knowledge unavailable to him. Is this reading of 42:1-6 reasonable?? Can this conclusion be used as insight into all the poetry that comes before ? Why would Job call the purposes of God wonderful and instructive if God’s overwhelming power to do what he pleases is the point ? Could you comment on Job 42:3 ?

      • Bart
        Bart  April 28, 2017

        Yes, it is sometimes read that way. My point is that God calls upon his own greater knowledge and power to disparage Job as small and insignificant, and insists that he doesn’t have to answer the question of why Job suffers.

  21. SidDhartha1953  April 20, 2017

    One of your other readers pointed out the similarities between God at the end of the poetic section of Job and the CEOs from hell we’ve encountered, or at least heard of. If God is that sort of despot, then Job did the only sensible thing — he survived the encounter, knowing he would never get real justice.
    I think your blog is an example of the best answer to suffering: do what we can about it, because God either can’t or won’t intervene.
    Thank you!

  22. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  April 21, 2017

    Another random post Bart! Prob getting tired of them ! don’t give up on me LOL

    I just want to say it is one of my favorites

    15] But is was midday, and darkness held fast all Judea; and they were distressed and anxious lest the sun had set, since he was still living. [For] it is written for them: Let not the sun set on one put to death. [16] And someone of them said: ‘Give him to drink gall with vinegary wine.’ And having made a mixture, they gave to drink. [17] And they fulfilled all things and completed the sins on their own head. [18] But many went around with lamps, thinking that it was night, and they fell. [19] And the Lord screamed out, saying: ‘My power, O power, you have forsaken me.’ And having said this, he was taken up.

    [20] And at the same hour the veil of the Jerusalem sanctuary was torn into two. [21] And they drew out the nails from the hands of the Lord and placed him on the earth; and all the earth was shaken, and a great fear came about. [22] Then the sun shone, and it was found to be the ninth hour

    • Silver  April 21, 2017

      What is the source of this quotation, please?

      • Josephsluna
        Josephsluna  April 28, 2017

        The same place I got this source from. 30-33 power of three. like the 3 crosses…. and 33 the age of Jesus

        (30) Jesus said, “Where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two or one, I am with him.”

        “Jesus! there gods! Gods are one with Jesus!”
        “Jesus one, Gods… Jesus”

        (31) Jesus said, “No prophet is accepted in his own village; no physician heals those who know him.”

        (32) Jesus said, “A city being built on a high mountain and fortified cannot fall, nor can it be hidden.”

        (33) Jesus

        “Jesus prophet in village. Heals know, said being.”
        Aviod and fall… It Jesus….

  23. joeydag  April 21, 2017

    I was surprised after many years of knowing this story to have a startling vision of what that final confrontation with God may have appeared to its author. Imagine being as ill and beaten down as Job is and then he is tossed into a cyclone – something out of the movie “Twister” – with the wind moaning and groaning from whispers to airplane engine volumes – Job vulnerable to all the elements of his environment flying through the air. Thus he hears the Lord’s voice! The story gives a comprehensible and poetic summary of what the author wants us to imagine what Job heard. Imagine a film version with subscripts to the non-verbal soundtrack. After such an experience I don’t think Job would be up to questioning what he had just survived.

    I can imagine this as a screenplay with multiple writers. One just wants to tell the story of a good man’s appreciation of the awful majesty of encountering God. His character arc goes from rich, full life to the depths and at the climax the encounter with the Holy One and survival.

    I think another screenwriter comes along and decides to add the frame story with Satan and the happy ending for the children that would be listening. See, children, God was testing Job and Job passed just as you will if you are tested in such an awful way. Don’t blame his “friends” for their awful judgements. We all would think the same and we’d all be right.The second screenwriter doesn’t worry about the first set of children dying – they are just extras.

  24. Seeker1952  April 21, 2017

    On a paper I wrote on how the problem of suffering puts God’s existence into serious question, a philosophy professor (whom I’m pretty sure was atheist/agnostic) commented that Judaism and Christianity have never denied that there is terrible suffering. That made me think that, by now if not a long time ago, these two religions must have come up with explanations that somehow seem satisfying to their adherents–and you describe at least some of those.

    My question is why has it taken so long for the problem of suffering to start thoroughly penetrating “European” thinking? I know it’s come up every so often in the history of European thought–Epicurus may have been one of the first. I suppose a combination of wishful thinking and religious repression could go a long ways toward explaining the delay. Undoubtedly there are many other reasons too, including the emergence of science, individual freedom of thought, and the holocaust.

    But, thinking outside the box, I wounder if a big part of the explanation for many of us today (for taking the problem of suffering seriously) is that many of us have lives that are both fairly happy and that contain a relatively small amount of suffering. That could be an enormous help in facing up to the likelihood that this life is all there is. I’ve always thought it was too simplistic but I’m starting to better understand why some/many sociologists of religion often claim that traditional religion is much more prevalent among people and in societies whose lives are full of suffering, precisely because of their suffering. People and societies who have satisfying lives don’t need religion.

    On the other hand though, I also can’t help but wonder if those of us who don’t suffer very much have become so averse to the idea and possibility of suffering ourselves that we simply can’t accept that, in God’s wisdom, at least some types and amounts of suffering might be a necessary part of human and/or spiritual growth. Lately I’ve come more to see faith/hope as a struggle–often a response to a struggle with suffering.

    As you seem to often allude to, it comes down to one’s judgement about whether the types and amounts of suffering are far or even obscenely in excess of what’s necessary and helpful for spiritual growth.

    • godspell  April 23, 2017

      Truth is, most of us (by ‘us’ I mean people in developed nations with good standards of living) don’t know what real suffering is. We’ve insulated ourselves from life as much as we are able. We’ve gotten used to getting much if not all of what we want.

      So we’re angry when we can’t have it all. Angrier when we lose what we already have.

      And that anger is far more dangerous than the God we see in Job, performing his little experiment. More dangerous than the Adversary. We have met the Adversary, and he is US.

  25. steveandcris  April 23, 2017

    It’s truly gratifying to know so many share in the thirst for truth and answers that this blog can even exist, creating the kind of discussions I’ve always searched for from those participating. Thanks all.
    I think Faith and Hope are the divine offspring of religion, also are the evil twins of Death and Despair. I think that Faith and Hope are important to mankind in it’s day to day survival. You have to be positive and upbeat. Life is pretty difficult to stomach if you’re fairly informed and aware. We would dwell on death and dying most of our days. Religion helps us transcend everyday realities. Being an Agnostic as you are Dr Ehrman, I wonder if you have found Faith and Hope to be the toughest doors to close on religion. Makes us Agnostic instead of atheist. Remnant hope.
    I’m a science guy really. I truly think quantum physics has the answers to all the questions lots of folks have on the afterlife, religion. A post I would like to make one day. Energy NEVER dies, and in quantum physics atoms have what’s called interconnectivity. Once an atom comes in contact with another, it keeps track of it’s phase (being) forever. I’m pretty sure that’s similar to eternity. No matter how far apart they are. Reincarnation- no problem. Energy never dies. You might be a flower next time. Buried with your spouse or other loved ones, hey who knows, maybe you’ll all be a bunny some day. Energy never dies. Quantum speaking, as we talk in person with family and friends ( and all others) we pass and exchange parts of our lungs, heart, blood etc. Sorry, it’s happening. Your body remakes itself every year cell by cell and we share those with others. The old hippie adage we are all one.
    One of the comments mentioned not having any God moments in their life. To that person I say you have to be able to recognize them. Maybe you did have them but did not see them as such.
    Sounds like I’m a confused Agnostic doesn’t it? Not really. I’ve not seen the scientific evidence for God. I’ve seen the God line moved by which we judge it. Still pretty much is our best way to describe what’s ineffable.
    When my Dad recently passed away, before his passing I had several conversations with Jesus about allowing the suffering of such a loyal servant, an honest, loving, selfless man. I couldn’t understand why others so hateful could go on and he had to go. My Dad was a loyal Catholic who never questioned his Faith. My Dad died on Good Friday, April 3rd 2015. Good Friday. Hmmm! Shut me up. God moment?
    Can’t help but to think about that story you told about the student you had and the extended back and forth over a grade on a test I believe it was. Possibly causing her failure of the class? I can’t remember whether it was in a book or a lecture of yours but I know it was you who told the story. I really liked that story because it helps people understand perspective. That lady was convinced you made an error and God told her so and she was not going to let you of the hook until you checked. Turned out some snafus was at fault, but you wouldn’t have ever convinced that lady of that. Wish you would direct folks to that book or video I’m referring to because I think they would enjoy it. Your telling the story is classic! God moment? Loved it!
    I don’t think you need religion to maintain Faith and Hope in your life. I realize some do. Statue’s work for some.
    My questions for you Dr. Ehrman are:
    Were Faith and Hope considered​ in your decision to be an Agnostic? Instead of an Atheist?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 25, 2017

      I am both an agnostic (I don’t know if there is a greater divine being) and an atheist (I don’t believe there is). Science did have some effect: I htink the scientific view of the universe makes by far the best sense (on the assumption that evidence actually matters)

  26. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  April 30, 2017

    When the gods spoke, you heard it in your head, not your ears. Same thing with music.. what they heard.. you heard, when they looked at you.. ..who remembers that Bart? For all things I come true, touched by Zeus. Said by Dionysus.

  27. AlecRozsa  May 8, 2017

    The interpretation of Job seems to depend on how much of adherent to divine law, and which laws he was familiar with, and when it was written. The author(s) of Deuteronomy seem to believe in collective guilt of Israel and also individual need for atonement. Also Deuteronomy seems to paint a traditional picture that contact with God can only happen at a certain time, at a certain place. So the author of Job seems to have a strikingly similar view of who and what God is, but lacks later developments about God’s relationship with man like those. Even if Job is himself innocent like the author appears to say, according to later developments he is still afflicted with the stain of Israel’s sin, and perhaps bears their guilt vicariously (Exodus 20). When do you think Job was written?

    • Bart
      Bart  May 9, 2017

      I assume the two books combined into one come from different periods, but there seems to be very little way to know when each was written or when a final editor combined them. There simply aren’t historical references in the text to help us, unfortunately.

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