job and literalism
My wife is reading Job. I asked her this morning if she read the book as allegory or as literal history. She replied that she did believe it to be literal history. She said it didn’t seem like something someone would make up. In other words, it didn’t seem likely to her that it would be made up.
Very interesting to me, because I would see it as allegory for exactly the opposite reason: it does not seem like something that is true history. The beginning of the story is comprised by fantastic events, God and Satan dialoging, and a series of seemingly impossible catastrophes descend upon Job. And the dialog is a perfect setup for the dialog between Job and his “counselors,” the counselors providing the perfect counterpoint to Job, and then God providing the perfect counterpoint to the counselors. It seems like a story set up by the author to convey his thoughts about God.
I have come to a conclusion through this conversation – that the reason my wife reads Job as history not allegory is that all her life it has been preached and taught to her as actual history. Sermons in our religious tradition speak as, “When all of Job’s children were killed…” not, “Where the story of Job in the bible teaches that…” So we proceed to read Job through that lens, accepting that they have correctly taught from the book. I viewed the bible in much the same way.
Something amazing but subtle occured during the conversation, we had a rational and calm talk about the bible. That’s been rare for us this year. I really believe that conversations like this are critical, much more so than any firm arguments or case I could bring up against the bible. They are the small building blocks of rational and critical thought in my wife’s life towards religion and the bible, and the building blocks of rational discussion between the two of us. As Bethlin commented on my last post: …I’m discovering that a good argument and a little support can go a long way toward making peace with the “other.”
Entry filed under: bible.