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Was Job Really Innocent?

In this thread within a thread I have been talking about the book of Job and its two authors and their two different views of suffering.  In the narrative that begins and ends the book (chs. 1-2, 42), by one of the authors, suffering is a test from God to see whether Job will remain faithful even if he suffers dearly.  Does he really worship God because God deserves it, or because of what he can get from it?

In the poetic section (chs. 3-41) Job’s friends insist that Job suffers not as a test or for any reason but one: Job has sinned and God is punishing him.  This we saw in my last post.  Here, in this one, I will lay out Job’s response.  Again, this discussion is taken from my book God’s Problem.


For Job, the charges his friends level against him (that he is unrighteous) is itself unjust.  He has done nothing to deserve his fate and to maintain his personal integrity, he has to insist on his own innocence.  To do otherwise would be to lie to himself, the world, and to God.  He cannot repent of sins he has never committed and pretend that his suffering is deserved, when in fact he has done nothing wrong.  As he repeatedly tells his friends, he knows full well what sin looks like — or rather, tastes like — and he would know if he had done anything to stray from the paths of godliness:

Teach me and I will be silent;

make me understand how I have gone wrong.

How forceful are honest words!

But your reproof, what does it reprove?

But now be pleased to look at me;

for I will not lie to your face.

Is there any wrong on my tongue?

Cannot my taste discern calamity? (6:24-25, 28, 30)

In graphic and powerful images Job…

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Job and the God Who Refuses To Answer
Did David Exist? And When Did I Know I Lost My Faith? Mailbag April 15, 2017



  1. Avatar
    LeRoy  April 17, 2017

    Is Job in contradiction with the theological concept of “original sin”? When Job claims he is blameless God does not come back with the orthodox view that “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God”.

    I suppose the other great contradiction is that God does not tend to “pal around” with Satan!

  2. Avatar
    godspell  April 17, 2017

    You know, if the creator of the entire universe spoke to me, I’d probably feel pretty humble myself.

    A whole lot of people grovel to the rude, abusive, dishonest, and repeatedly bankrupt founder of a lot of failed companies, who somehow got himself elected President.

    We are very small in the grand scheme of things and there’s no shame in recognizing that.

    It’s the hubris of humanity that is our greatest flaw, and that’s how we elected that ass. Humility is not something to regret–smugness and self-satisfaction most certainly are. Truthfully, no human has ever lived who isn’t guilty of doing something wrong. Jesus said “Why do you call me good?”

    It’s a very extreme way to make a point, this story–but that’s intentional. Again, it’s a story that goes to extremes to make us understand that the entire universe does not revolve on its axis on whether we’re happy or not.

  3. Benjamin
    Benjamin  April 17, 2017

    Ah! Terrible thoughts!!
    Why suffering has to be a bet played by the divine beings??

  4. Avatar
    Jason  April 17, 2017

    The narrator in one of the TLC “Mysteries of the Bible” dvds claims that Job uses an ancient (implication being Kabalistic, possibly) spell to command the presence of God-is there any background that might substantiate that?

  5. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  April 18, 2017

    What did the earliest Christian worship consist of? Acts 2 says they devoted themselves to “the breaking of bread” (a Eucharistic meal?) and “the prayers.” What prayers? Are there any descriptions that are reliable?
    Also in Acts 2, it says they baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ.” But by the time Acts was written, some at least were using a trinitarian formula (Matthew). What would Matthew have thought was the relationship among father, son, and holy spirit? Not one God in 3 persons, would he?

    • Bart
      Bart  April 18, 2017

      I’m afraid these are the only descriptions we have, apart from the comments of Paul about the use of gifts in the churchs (1 Corinthians 12, 14) and the eucharist meal (1 Cor. 11:22-24), and so on.

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  April 20, 2017

        And Matthew & Luke’s differing baptismal requirements?

  6. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  April 18, 2017

    Your introductory chapter in “Jesus Before the Gospels” contains a section about “Remembering Lincoln” which effectively shows how memories of Lincoln have changed since the Civil War. Interestingly, on page 3 of Tuesday’s News and Observer, there is an “Under the Dome” section which describes the story that Lincoln was really born in Bostic, in western North Carolina, to an unwed mother. The article states that over time memories get embellished and changed although they often contain “a grain of truth.” This reminds me of the story about George Washington never telling a lie which I guess means that he was mostly sinless.

  7. Avatar
    Mhamed Errifi  April 18, 2017

    hello Bart

    i am reading your book how jesus became god . you talked about Apollonius of Tyana but some cites believe that he was apparently a Neopythagorean philosopher was born after jesus (AD 15-100 ) and The book by Philostratus was written in c. AD 220. how do you respond to that


  8. Avatar
    Scott  April 18, 2017

    “so mortals lie down and do not rise again;
    until the heavens are no more, they will not awake
    or be roused out of their sleep. (14:11-12)”

    Is this an indication that the author of Job believed that the dead would be raised up at the end of time? Or is ti merely a poetic way of saying we lie dead until the “12th of Never”?

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