A revisionist interpretation of the biblical book of Job that raises provocative questions about its titular protagonist’s character.
The widely accepted reading of Job is that God allowed him to suffer at the hands of Satan despite his righteousness. The ostensible lessons are that even the morally blameless can suffer and that God’s plan is inscrutable. However, Vander Weele (Reclaiming Our Schools, 1994) argues that this view entails a theological incoherency, as God capriciously delivers a good man into Satan’s evil clutches. In search of an alternative explanation, the author—a professional corporate investigator—meticulously scoured the text for “throwaway lines” that function as exegetical clues. In the process, she discovered an entirely new analysis: “Perhaps Job wasn’t the loving and honorable brother, relative, friend, and civic leader he imagined himself to be.” In this book, she considers evidence that Job’s prideful estimation of his own virtue far exceeded reality—that after he suffered a series of catastrophic losses, his neighbors abandoned him, and his friends felt that he deserved punishment for shady business practices that preyed upon the poor. Job, the author asserts, seemed more concerned with defending his reputation, arrogantly proposing a “cosmic Calculus” in which he earned his prosperity and future salvation. Vander Weele’s thesis in this book is as challenging as it is rigorous. Her painstaking interrogation of the biblical text is delightfully unrelenting. It also provides a philosophically sound lesson involving the dangers of pride and the eternal goodness not of Job, but of God. The author also furnishes an engaging account of Satan’s role in all this and the way in which he was essentially duped by God. Throughout, her prose is unfailingly clear and free of academic jargon, and her analytical results read like a true-crime mystery: dramatic, accessible, and full of profound, moral meaning.
A brief but captivating look at an ancient story.