Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is There Justice in the Book of Job?

Or is the divinely-sponsored suffering of His good and faithful servant yet another nail in God's coffin, driven by the problem of evil?
The problem was stated most succinctly by David Hume: “Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is impotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Whence then is evil?” 
One logical answer is that there is no God. But before the eighteenth century, and during most of it, atheism was not an option, even for the most strong-minded. To choose between two positions, a person must have two to choose from. Before the Enlightenment, the vast majority of Europeans did not... Joan Acocella: Is There Justice in the Book of Job? : The New Yorker
The earlier impossibility of non-belief is overstated. If you doubt the pre-Enlightenment existence and availability of the atheism option, read Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt: A History.

But Joan Acocella's essay is good. Of  Mark Larrimore's “The Book of Job: A Biography” (Princeton University Press) she writes:
Larrimore maintains a supremely tolerant position. He approves of the wealth of “interpretative openings and opportunities.” Everything is O.K. with him, and he thinks that whatever disagreements there are may lead to community. (This is interesting, since an absolutely crucial aspect of Job’s trial is that he suffers alone.) Such a latitudinarian approach is perhaps appropriate to a reception study, telling who thought what, and who, after them, thought something else, but eventually it comes to seem anti-intellectual. At times, Larrimore sounds like a kindly Unitarian minister, or like Mister Rogers.
With a God like Job's, Mister Rogers would surely be a comfort.

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