The author of the book of Job masterfully composes a literary piece in which Job is a representative of all who suffer (Hartley, 1988). The introductory part of the commentary presents Job as a man of untarnished character and devoted to the faith of believing in God. The section according to Hartley (1988) which introduces Job as blameless and upright shows that Job was a person of pure motivation. Blameless means that Job walked in close fellowship with God and besides that delighted in obeying the law. It also indicates that Job served God wholeheartedly. Hartley (1988) says that upright shows faithful adherence to Gods statutes and that Job had an honest compassionate manner in relating to others. The introduction shows that Job treated others including his servants fairly and justly (Hartley, 1988).
Why is Gregory writing the commentary? What are the three different levels of interpretation?
Gregory writes this commentary because it is an exegesis of the book of Job. The commentary therefore acts as a revision of biblical deliberations which were first delivered as monastic lectures to an audience of his like minded friends (Saebo, 2000). According to Saebo (2000) Gregory was interested in expounding the book of Job because it said more about the committed Christian life. Gregory wants to show the ordeals suffered by the righteous and that the problem of evil and that suffering is conveyed at the literal level of he book. Saebo (2000) continues to say that “the whole commentary on the biblical book of Job has the intention to give through the exegetical explanations of the book” (p. 140).
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The levels found in the book are creating equilibrium while exposing the text between the outward letter, inner and the spirit. Saebo (2000) continues to indicate that the commentary on Job comprises the idea of a correct balance between the inward and outward in exegesis of the book of Job. He also says that in Gregory exegesis of the book of Job it has the historical, allegorical and moral mystical interpretation exists only in the theory of the introductory parts of the book of Job.
Why is Gregory writing the commentary?
Gregory was urged by his companions write a mystical commentary on the often obscure book of Job (Halsall, 1998). As result Halsall (1998) says that Gregory could not refuse a task imposed to him by brotherly affection which would later be of help to many people. Another reason why he was writing this commentary was that he was not only strengthened against the temptations of the world like Job but inspired to ever greater spiritual activity (Halsall, 1998). Another reason for writing this commentary was that because in the life and teachings of this biblical figure and thus discovers an inspiring example Saebo (2000). Saebo (2000) further indicated that “Gregory through this commentary feels a close relationship and a very personal identification with the enduring righteous one of the bible” (p. 142).
Gregory gives a clear exposition of the literal meaning in the book of Job especially the first two chapters by showing how the book refers to Christ and the sacraments of the Church and in what sense it applies to all the faithful (Halsall,1998). Ewald (2008) says that Job watched over the purity and blamelessness not only of his own life but also of is whole house but the calamities still followed him. The calamities which followed naturally befell him wholly unexpectedly despite having done all that which was humanly to avert divine punishments from his house (Ewald, 2008).
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The story of Job shows that all the customary religious works did by Job were insufficient to avert the calamities hence the insufficiency of such works may in any case be inferred from the results. Ewald (2008) further say that for “Jobs godliness had not as yet passed through the fire of purification and hence God himself could not hinder” (p. 86). Ewald (2008) also says that this was true for Job because he was considered the man to who the greatest measure of strength was granted and besides that prosperity contended the most painful experience.
The story of Job also shows that within the limitations by which he has hitherto had been surrounded Job seems to stand most securely and really so far to deserve all divine approval but Job is immediately sent forth to new and perilous struggles (Ewald, 2008). God brings out Job as a servant against who Satan can produce nothing but as depicted in the story the enemy with his wicked ways seeks to throw suspicion upon Job. According to Ewald (2008) the story is important because “initially we fear as men for Job and await with intense interest the issue but taking a deeper view anticipate the possibility, the uncertainty that job will not may be succumb” (p. 86). We finally realize that evil together with the Satan in this case only served as the instrument for the promotion of goodness that follows Job later.
As a result we learn that what is prepared in heaven finds its fulfillment on earth within its prescribed limits but Ewald (2008) says that the “temptation to impatience, despair, confused thinking and fly is withstood by the Job a man whom God distinguishes by the name of his servant and who does not disappoint the divine hope” (p. 87). To other people Job shows the noblest resignation and submission, maintain both from voluntary personal impulse as well as the provocation which he has to bear (Ewald, 2008). According to Ewald (2008) Job gives Christians the courage to face challenges as they come which to Christians is the truest moderation under suffering and resignation under bereavement. Endurance is anther importance lesson Christians should learn from the story of Job. In support of this Ewald (2008) says that “although his calamities all the time continued to be dark and mysterious to him he accepted them in humility”. To Christians Job is thus considered as a good example because he is regarded as brave and great and therefore steadfast and faithful.
What are some of the things that he suffered, and what do they have to do with the spiritual life of the Christian?
Ewald (2008) established that the first “trial takes from Job all his valued outward possessions such as his flock, animal’s herds together with his children and servants” (p. 87). Ewald (2008) also says that the second last outward good which outweighs all the rest was his health. This was taken by a disease which both created disgust and threatened his life also. In the first trial Jobs patience has simply to contend against himself. As Christians we learn that despite all this Job remains faithful and therefore to the uttermost in that stage of religious life upon which he had hitherto moved (Ewald, 2008).
According to Hartley (1988) the four plagues revealed to job that all the forces of heaven and earth had turned hostile toward him. Hartley (1988) says that “this idea is borne out by the fact that the causes of destruction alternate between earthly and heavenly forces coming from four points of the compass” (p. 77). The sources of the calamities were Sabeans from the south, lightning from a storm out of the west, the Chaldeans from the north, and the treacherous sirocco blowing off the desert to the east have the number four which symbolizes full measure and totality (Hartley, 1988). After all this afflictions we as christens have to learn that all what we posses belongs to God and that He has the ultimate authority to take back or give the things we call our possessions. We also learn that Job was stunned but above all this he stripped off his garments and shaved his hair a sign of submitting to the will of God. Hartley (1988) says that Job “dropped to the ground and prostrated himself before God hence this shows that he acknowledged Gods lordship over all his possessions and sought consolation from the Almighty” (p. 77). As Christians we learn that we have to acknowledge what God does no matter how we it may look bad on our side.
Habel (1985) says that the sovereign activity of God in giving and taking is acclaimed to us as a positive reality in the world. Habel (1985) indicated that “as Christians looking at the Gods sovereign deeds to Job we can denounce them as arbitrary, unjust, and cruel but we learn that as the righteous and blameless hero, Job blesses God rather than calling down curses on those who harmed him” (p. 93).
Who are the other people related to Job, and what do they have to do with the suffering, providence, Christ, the Church, and the spiritual life?
Job is interpreted at first as typos of Jesus Christ who also had to bear tribulations (Saebo, 2000). There are few people in the bible that can be considered related to Job. Paul and John the Baptist for example underwent many suffering because of the Gospel of the truth and he calls himself a prisoner of the Gospel. There is no close relation between Job, Paul and John the Baptist although Stump (2003) says that the book of Job is the paradigmatic presentation of the problem of evil in the world. According to Stump (2003) the notion of Gods providence and suffering is derived from the concept of his goodness because on the doctrine of simplicity the divine nature is identical with goodness and the goodness of creatures is measured by their relationship to God.
Providence and suffering played an important role in the spread of Gospel since the time of John the Baptist in the New Testament. The suffering of Jesus Christ was for the purpose of redeeming man and reconciling him back to God. The afflictions of Paul were aimed at spreading the Gospel. In this context Stump (2003) says that “Gods ultimate aim which takes precedence over all others is to return human beings to him self to unite them to himself in heaven” (p. 456).
It is important to note that the plan by which God directs the lives of Christians influences their characters, like Job and orders the events of their lives in order to achieve Gods aim in his providence (Stump, 2003). The suffering which Job went through tested his faith and integrity and this proved that he was a true servant of God. At the same time Christ endured the cross and as a result Jesus is the basis of our spiritual lives. Stump (2003) therefore says that we can therefore assert that “God in his providence directs all things in the world to their ultimate good that is to him self” (p. 456).
In conclusion Stump (2003) says that in addition to the suffering, providence, Christ, the Church, and the Christians spiritual life it is important to note that Job represents the church and that “everything that happens occurs under Gods control and is chosen or allowed by God because it contributes to the ultimate good of creatures by drawing them back to him” (p. 456). Saebo (2000) also concludes that Job is stylized as the ideal man who bears all the sufferings God sends but despite this he is always calm and steadfast in mind. He also says that one should learn to suffer adversity and prosperity as Job did both loving and fearing God in the ups and downs of life. Saebo (2000) also says that the suffering of the righteous one in the book of Job is interpreted at first as typos of Jesus Christ who also had to bear tribulations. Therefore because Christ is head body of the church Job ca also signify the community of the Christian church.
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