Saturday, 7 February 2009

Reading Job

If I had not gone to the English eucharist which the course in Rome organised for us on Saturday evening I would not have been listening to Job but to Isaiah this weekend. The Revised Common Lectionary and the Roman Catholic Lectionary do not always mirror one another. One day I ought to write a dissertation comparing lectionaries in different Protestant, Anglican and Catholic traditions, though with any luck someone else might have already done this and so save me the trouble.
My friend Kersten, who has recently taken up a position as a chaplain in the Netherlands, says that she is shocked that the biblical texts which many lectionaries propose for Sunday worship reduce the Hebrew scriptures more or less to the Psalms and bits of Deutero Isaiah. The Torah, the part of the scriptures most meditated and commented on in Judaism, is only rarely proposed for Sunday worship in Christian churches.
Anyway the following passage from Job brought a smile to my lips despite myself. It's a harsh view of life. Job is not just desperately unhappy but very nearly suicidal.This is strong stuff and I feel it rings true for so many people today as well.
Interestingly the gospel text linked with this in the lectionary is the healing of Peter's mother in law - one of those nearly nameless women we tried to remember at our feminist theology group on Tuesday, she doesn't have a go at God like Job does but gets up and starts serving the men. Hmm!
Anyway here is part of chapter 7 of Job, a wonderfully powerful psychological study. His harangues of God certainly strike with chord for me.

‘Do not human beings have a hard service on earth,
and are not their days like the days of a labourer?
Like a slave who longs for the shadow,
and like labourers who look for their wages,
so I am allotted months of emptiness,
and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
When I lie down I say, “When shall I rise?”
But the night is long,
and I am full of tossing until dawn.
My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt;
my skin hardens, then breaks out again.
My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and come to their end without hope.
‘Remember that my life is a breath;

my eye will never again see good.
The eye that beholds me will see me no more;
while your eyes are upon me, I shall be gone.
As the cloud fades and vanishes,
so those who go down to Sheol do not come up;
they return no more to their houses,
nor do their places know them any more.
‘Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;

I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

4 Comments:

Dr B. said...

I thought this meant you were looking for employment between London and Oxford

:-)
Dr B. (PhD, Reading)

Jane said...

Very droll!

janetlees said...

Dear old Job ( a subject close to Bob's heart as you know). Maybe instead of Slumdog millionaire we could do a pic on Job. Susan Durber told me Muriel Sparks has written a novel on Job called' The Only Problem' but I've not read it yet.

Anonymous said...

Janet - Wouldn't a better title be "Job's for the Boys"?!

Ann