Long, Thomas G.,
What Shall We Say? Evil, Suffering, and The Crisis of Faith
. Wm B.Eerdmans Publishing Company; Grand Rapids. 2011.
Interlude: Howl: Job and the Whirlwind
Long’s ‘interlude’ brings readers face to face with the book of Job and its message. Amessage which Long is right to insist has been misunderstood or misread.He summarizes“The book of Job… is … about who God is and what it means to be
human at all
when God is understood truly to be God. This great textstands over against the prevalent religious impulse to fabricate a wishful picture of the world, to imagine the sort of God who would rule benignlyover such a world, and then to bow down to worship before this projectionof our own sense of moral order” (p. 96).So, Long continues, the best way to read Job is as a drama in which the players signifytypes. So, he suggests,Eliphaz … is the embodiment of a mushy brand of self-serving piety (p.102). He doesn’t have faith, he has a ‘religious machine’ (p. 103).Bildad … is a religious authoritarian (p. 103).Zophar is a Bildad who has gone to Seminary (p. 104).And Job? Well Job is just a man who wants answers. But the answers God gives aren’t‘rational discourse’. They are… poetic, visionary address, and as such [they] gather up into anexperiential encounter that resists all reduction, and explanation (p. 107).So far as Long is concerned, then,Job comes to us [warning] us away from the presumption that we will findsome solution to the theodicy problem that will somehow ‘make sense’ tous independent of our relationship with God (p. 111).Leading Long to conclude that…awe in the presence of God is, indeed, the beginning of wisdom (p.111).And now my own questions are beginning to haunt me because while Iunderstand what Long is attempting (and am profoundly grateful for his