Problems Biblical Literalists Have: God condemned (Protestant) Christianity

“Listen to my words, Job; pay attention to what I have to say. Now that I have begun to speak, let me continue. I speak with all sincerity; I speak the truth. For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Answer me, if you can; make your case and take your stand. Look, you and I both belong to God. I, too, was formed from clay. So you don’t need to be afraid of me. I won’t come down hard on you.

“You have spoken in my hearing, and I have heard your very words. You said, ‘I am pure; I am without sin; I am innocent; I have no guilt. God is picking a quarrel with me, and he considers me his enemy.  He puts my feet in the stocks and watches my every move.’

“But you are wrong, and I will show you why. For God is greater than any human being. So why are you bringing a charge against him? Why say he does not respond to people’s complaints? For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night, when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in their beds. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with warnings. He makes them turn from doing wrong; he keeps them from pride. He protects them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death.

“Or God disciplines people with pain on their sickbeds, with ceaseless aching in their bones. They lose their appetite for even the most delicious food. Their flesh wastes away, and their bones stick out. They are at death’s door; the angels of death wait for them.

“But if an angel from heaven appears — a special messenger to intercede for a person and declare that he is upright — he will be gracious and say, ‘Rescue him from the grave, for I have found a ransom for his life.’ Then his body will become as healthy as a child’s, firm and youthful again. When he prays to God, he will be accepted. And God will receive him with joy and restore him to good standing. He will declare to his friends, ‘I sinned and twisted the truth, but it was not worth it. God rescued me from the grave, and now my life is filled with light.’

“Yes, God does these things again and again for people. He rescues them from the grave so they may enjoy the light of life. Mark this well, Job. Listen to me, for I have more to say. But if you have anything to say, go ahead. Speak, for I am anxious to see you justified. But if not, then listen to me. Keep silent and I will teach you wisdom!” (Job 33:1-33 NLT)

Oh boy… what now? Elihu is nowhere else mentioned after his speech, but the transition from Elihu to God’s final words on the matter in 38.1 suggests that God has had enough of the of the speeches. He doesn’t condemn Elihu by name, so it is difficult to see what role he plays, but God does suggest that only Job is right. That means that Elihu’s challenge to Job should be considered wrong as well. The NET sets up 33.14 with the title, Elihu Disagrees with Job’s View of God.

So, what do we do? If God’s grace as represented by Elihu is wrong and generally condemned by God, a god who doesn’t change, then what?

Maybe we should throw Job out of the canon?

I have to wonder that given the tightness of the passage, if the speech was not later inserted into Job. Here’s why: In Job’s final reply to his f(r)iends, the narrator simply states “The words of Job are ended.” (31.40). 38.1 picks up with “Then the Lord answered Job…” Elihu is not mentioned either in the prologue where Job’s friends are introduced and in the epilogue where they are, by name, condemned. The LXX version of Job adds some biographical detail to the story, so we do know that some editing was taking place. Could the intrusion of Elihu’s speech(es) be part of an editor who sought to correct Job’s abhorrent theology failing to take out the condemnation generally given to Job’s friends? It is worth noting that Elihu is possibly meant to be seen as a descendant of Abraham (Through Buz).

The very good theology of Elihu, I think, should not be missed…

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.