Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 5
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 5

In previous essays, Iíve discussed how Job was treated unfairly by God, raising questions about Godís goodness. Despite Jobís experience and the experiences of countless human and nonhumans who are victims of natural or man-made disasters, I suggest that it is reasonable to believe that God cares about Creation.
In the Book of Job, God rewards Jobís faithfulness by restoring him with children and doubling his wealth. While few of us would be satisfied to have the children we have raised with love and affection replaced with other children, this makes sense in the context of that ancient culture, in which children were seen primarily as possessions who would care for elderly parents and carry on the family line. Therefore, it seems to me that the story shows Godís siding with Job, though we contemporary readers might find the compensation for Jobís losses to be insufficient.
I think there is a theme of concern for victims throughout the Bible, though there are troubling exceptions. There are many teachings in the Hebrew Scriptures about caring for those who are weak, orphaned, widowed, or otherwise vulnerable, particularly in the writings of the later prophets. Jesusí ministry repeatedly calls for compassion rather than victimization, exemplified by his declaration, ďI desire mercy and not sacrificeĒ (Matthew 9:13, 12:7). However, the Hebrew Scriptures also describe divinely ordained slaughter of the peoples of Canaan, and I know of no easy way to reconcile these accounts of violence with the notion of a loving and merciful God.

On what grounds, then, can I say that God cares about Creation? I will offer more thoughts on this question next essay. 

Go on to: Job and the Theodicy Problem, part 6
Return to: Reflection on the Lectionary, Table of Contents 

Return to Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion