Monday, March 4, 2013

Job 18-19 and Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans [Introduction through 1]

Job 18 – Bildad offers his piece: Too much talk, he says. Why does Job view us [his “friends”] as stupid “brutes”? (18:3)

What does Job expect? That the order of the universe will be upended because he is angry?

The “wicked” [like Job??] will be led “into the net” (18:8) of oblivion. “All memory of their existence will fade from the earth; no one will remember their names. They will be thrust from light into darkness, driven from the world” (18:17-18). Job will be remembered as a man who rejected God.

Job 19 – Job replies: “How long will you grieve my spirit, and crush me with words?” (19:2) “Even if I have sinned, that is my concern, not yours. You think you’re better than I am, using my humiliation as evidence of my sin. But it is God who has wronged me, capturing me in his net” (19:4-6).

He cries out for help but no one cares; there is no justice (19:7).”He has uprooted my hope like a fallen tree” (19:10).

“My family is gone, and my close friends have forgotten me” (19:14).

“Have mercy on me, my friends, have mercy, for the hand of God has struck me. Must you also persecute me, like God does?” (19:21-22)

He wishes that his words could be written down, inscribed on a rock forever.  And then he says, “But as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and he will stand upon the earth at last. And after my body has decayed, yet in my body I will see God. I will see him for myself. Yes, I will see him with my own eyes. I am overwhelmed at the thought!” (19:25-27)

His friends should stop “persecuting” him and telling him it’s all his fault. “You should fear punishment yourselves, for your attitude deserves punishment” (19:29).

Ignatius to the Romans
Introduction: This letter “was much more widely known and quoted in the early Church and has its own separate manuscript tradition” (56). It is said to be much more personal and does not concentrate on many of the issues raised in the other letters. There is no reference to the need for submission to bishops or other church authority; there is no mention of divisions. Its entire focus is on the glories of martyrdom.

1 – “To her who has found mercy in the greatness of the All-Highest Father, and Jesus Christ His only Son; to the church beloved and enlightened in her love to our God Jesus Christ by the will of Him who wills all things; to the church holding chief place in the territories of the district of Rome” (85).

He greets them with great formality. “My prayers that I might live to see your devoted community face to face have been answered; indeed, I have been granted more than I asked for, since I can now hope to greet you in the very chains of a prisoner of Jesus Christ, if His will permits me to reach my journey’s end” (85).

He still worries that the good intentions of friends – in high places in Rome – might prevent his yearned-for martyrdom. While this intervention might seem unproblematic to them, for Ignatius, he says “it is going to be very hard to get to God unless you spare me your intervention” (85).

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