Job, God, and the Devil

Something About This Old Testament Book ...

Something About This Old Testament Book …

When I first read the Book of Job from the Old Testament, I didn’t think much of it. I still don’t. There was God getting together with Satan to play poker or dominoes or whatever, and making a bet that affected the happiness of one of his most devoted followers. Then, too, there were those “friends” of Job who were zero consolation to the poor man.

I don’t like the idea of a God who is, instead of being the God of Love, some sort of Parimutuel Deity. He “makes it up to” Job in the end, but not before killing off his wife and children and sending him into what for anyone else would have been the pit of despair. We can speculate that the original Mrs. Job was a hag and a shrew; and the first set of children, all strung out on meth; and the replacement wife, a blonde hottie. But we have no grounds for thinking that.

When I was a student at Dartmouth College some time before the Pleistocene Era, I saw a play by Archibald Macleish that brought together the Book of Job with Death of a Salesman. It was called J.B. I would love to have seen the stage version directed by Elia Kazan and starring Raymond Massey, Christopher Plummer, and Pat Hingle (as the Job character). In 1959 it won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.

I know that Job was held up to be the model worshiper, a man who trusted in God through the most incredible adversities. But the God he worshiped was way too snarky for me.

Incidentally, the above illustration is from William Blake’s illustrations of the Book of Job.