Monday, February 25, 2013

Job 4-5 and Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 10-12

Job 4 – Eliphaz of Teman is the first “friend” to address Job’s woes. He speaks of Job as a man who used to give support and words of advice to others. Now it is his turn to be advised. Should his piety not give him strength? “Doesn’t your reverence for God give you confidence? Doesn’t your life of integrity give you hope?” (4:6)

His advice is to recognize that God brings the unjust to destruction. “My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same” (4:8).

“This truth was given to me in secret, as though whispered in my ear. It came to me in a disturbing vision at night, when people are in a deep sleep. Fear gripped me, and my bones trembled. A spirit swept past my face, and my hair stood on end. The spirit stopped, but I couldn’t see its shape. There was a form before my eyes. In the silence I heard a voice say, ‘Can a mortal be innocent before God? Can anyone be pure before the Creator?’” (4:12-17)

I quote this at some length because it intrigues me. It seems that the inner voice of God has come to him with all the “trembling” and “quaking” early Quakers described as a way of discerning God’s presence in the “opening”, and what God has opened to Eliphaz is that no one on the earth or in the heavens is guiltless before God.

Eliphaz seems to equate “integrity” with “innocence.” The idea that Job might STILL have integrity even though he’s been treated as the guilty would be treated by God seems impossible for Eliphaz to accept.

Job 5 – Eliphaz suggests perhaps appealing to one of God’s angels (5:1). The anger Job is entertaining will only bring death:

“Grief does not grow out of the earth,
   nor sorrow spring from the ground.
It is man who breeds trouble for himself
   as surely as eagles fly to the height” (5:6-7).

He suggests Job appeal to God and lay his case before him (5:8).

                  “If his will is to rescue the downcast,
                     Or raise the afflicted to the heights of joy
                  He wrecks the plans of the artful,
                     And brings to naught their intrigues” (5:11-12).

Eliphaz encourages Job not to reject the “discipline of the Almighty [El Shaddai in the Jerusalem Bible) when you sin” (5:17). “For though he wounds, he also bandages. He strikes, but his hands also heal” (5:18).

The Epistles of Ignatius [Letter to the Magnesians]
10 – “Now that we have become pupils of His, let us learn to live like Christians. To profess any other name but that is to be lost to God; so lay aside the old good-for-nothing leaven, now grown stale and sour, and change to the new, which is Jesus Christ. Have yourselves salted in Him, and then there will be no scent of corruption about any of you. . . . To profess Jesus Christ while continuing to follow Jewish customs in an absurdity. The Christian faith does not look to Judaism, but Judaism looks to Christianity, in which every other race and tongue that confesses a belief in God has not been comprehended” (73).

Note here indicates that Ignatius’ use of the term “Christian” is the FIRST time it was used.

11 – Referring yet again to Docetist notions, Ignatius admits that he is “anxious” about the “pitfalls of this shallow teaching” (73). Jesus Christ, “our Hope”, was born, suffered death and rose again “in the days of Pontius Pilate’s governorship” (73). It is important that we never “turn aside” from the Hope that is embodied in these realities.

12 – Ignatius praises his addressees completely. “[Y]ou . . . I know so well, are wholly free from pride, having Jesus Christ within you” (73). His praise of them should not worry them, making them feel uncomfortable – those most worthy of praise are often the ones most uncomfortable with it. 

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