After enduring Job's calamities, his howling laments, the speeches of his "friends," a hymn to wisdom as an entr'acte, Job's plea of innocence, an awkward interruption by Elihu, and then four chapters of the LORD speaking from the whirlwind, we finally arrive at the 42nd and last chapter of Job.
We discover that no one much agrees what it means.
Alfred Lord Tennyson called Job "the greatest poem of ancient and modern times." Excerpts are regularly included in anthologies of world literature and religious poetry. It is an undeniable literary classic.
If God’s response to Job in chapter 38 were meant only to shut Job up, seven verses would be sufficient. But God is only getting started here, and the exuberance of the rhetoric insists that vastly more is at stake.
Here in Tidewater, Virginia, we make our way from city to city via
a series of tunnels. As we approach each tunnel a series of signs warn
us: “No HAZMATS” and “HAZMATS must exit here.” Trucks carrying
hazardous materials of one sort or another provide a danger anywhere,
but in tunnels the risk is magnified.
John Calvin grounded our need to know God in our createdness: "What is the chief end of human life?" he asked, and answered, "To know God by whom we were created." This yearning is not the same as our need to "know" other human beings.
In Williamsburg, Virginia, where I live, the fraternities and sororities of The College of William & Mary invite new members in (and leave others out). What's in and what's out translates cunningly into who's in and who's out.
A couple of months ago in the Century, Thomas G. Long discussed temptations faced by anxious preachers who must preach week after week, sometimes for several services each Sunday. “What can I say this time?” is the angst-filled question of many of us. In an earlier day one could find Harry Emerson Fosdick’s sermons collected in his books, and Ernest T.
One of the satisfactions of reading Living by the Word is sometimes having our own interpretations affirmed and amplified by colleagues. Thus we can empathize with the lawyer in Luke who wants to justify himself by asking a question about interpreting scripture.
Support the Christian Century
The Century's work relies primarily on subscriptions and donations. Thank you for supporting nonprofit journalism.