Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Job and Covenant

Ticciati has a short section on Barth's theology of Job and its relationship to the rich young man of the gospel (Matthew 19:21) who went away downcast at the command to give up all that he has and follow Christ. Short - about 40 pages or so - long enough for me to get impatient. But I did read it.

One nice thing I found was the focus on the word δοκιμάζω, to test, examine, prove in the New Testament and its relationship to our obedience to 'the command', this being our response to that which brings us to our selves and in the sense of completion, allows God to work in us. (I am not quoting her here - but searching for words to express what I think she and Barth are getting at.) I was delighted to see her suggestion that the NT words translate the Hebrew בחן - for which I chose 'scrutinize' - for it is us as the object of God's scrutiny that is the context of 'the command' to which we must respond if we are to live. (I can see from a brief scan of usage in Romans that I might get distracted from Hebrew to Greek some day - but I think there is not time.)

Touching this only briefly, I moved into her new reading of Job and find that Job's troubles parallel the curses of the Deuteronomic covenant. Perhaps this is obvious. I have said here that I thought of Job as not directly related to 'covenant' per se - but I see now it could be a deliberate 'scrutiny' of the reward and punishment legal aspects of covenant. Also - Job as servant, like Israel and servant, Jesus as servant, and us too - then come into the frame - do we serve 'for nothing'? Or is it only reward and punishment that motivate love - for better for worse, for richer for poorer...?

She contends that what is "at stake in the book of Job is ... the Deuteronomic Covenant itself." So this book has more in common with e.g. Psalm 89 than I had been thinking. Job can even be seen as an image of Israel during its trial in exile.

Just to touch on the direct allusions to the covenant, consider the successive destruction of Job's livestock and children, Deuteronomy 28:31-32 and the final straw, Job 2:7 echoes Deuteronomy 28:35. All this in the context of blessings and cursings.

I note how Paul uses Deuteronomy 30:14 in Romans 10:9 and see that I may indeed be able to read the NT in a completely different light having given some detailed time to the Hebrew Scriptures. Now I must continue to read this detailed and close-reasoned book. I think I see the mark of Cambridge reasoning and writing - very detailed. I tried reading some of it out loud - and decided that some sentences were not necessary and that many large words are needed to express theology accurately - whew! I shall be happy to return to the word of the story itself. She will, of this for some reason I am sure, succeed in expressing without 'explaining away' a significant reading of Job that will be helpful.

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