Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Book of Job


The Book of Job is unique. The ancient text identifies Job as an "Asian," or, in older translations, "an Oriental." So, Job was not a Hebrew. He might have been Chinese. At any rate, he is famous for his profound wisdom, and Job is a classic in spirituality. Unlike the other books of the "Hebrew Scriptures," it is not simply a product of Hebrew culture.

As an Asian, if he was spiritual-- and he must have been-- it was probably a spirituality more along the lines of Taoism or Buddhism rather than Judaism. These faiths are famous for their strengthening the Soul against suffering and loss. Some varieties are almost fatalistic in their acceptance of suffering. But, at any rate, unlike the Hebrew faith, these Asian Ways do have a valid and fair explanation for suffering.

Job proves that a man can conduct his life in purity and justice even if the universe seems to be unjust. Of course, the cosmos is never unjust, being under the guidance of Love (God). But the working out of karma can make the cosmos appear ruthless, unjust, and unfeeling. Life on earth can seem to be hell.

Job, in challenging Jehovah, actually proves himself more aware of more factors, actually confusing Jehovah, and backing him into a kind of corner. Jehovah ends up "defending" himself with the last-resort argument, "How dare you question me?" Jehovah really has no satisfactory answers to all the suffering on earth-- as indeed the Hebrew faith did not understand why human beings have to suffer so much. For the Hebrew religion made mo room for karma, and hence, had not a clue.

Job is almost Buddhist in its concentration on suffering and its meaning. It is the one book in the Hebrew Scriptures that asks the truly profound questions about this difficult life on earth. I have read it several times, and it is well worth reading and rereading.

1 comment:

Alice C. Linsley said...

There is no evidence to support this idea that Job was Asian in the sense that you mean. His cultural context was Afro-Asiatic and so naturally there will be some points of contact with religious ideas in Hinduism and Buddhism. The ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion extended from the Atlantic coast of modern Nigeria to the Indus River Valley, but the rulers of this vast Dominion lost power when the rivers and waterways they controlled began to dry up about 7,000 years ago. You may read morea about this here: