LDS Perspectives #52: The (Im)patient Job

The (Im)patient Job
with Michael Austin

Michael Austin overturns our Sunday School understanding of Job.

Job didn’t constantly praise God in the midst of his trials, and he certainly wasn’t always patient.

The satan mentioned in the story is not Lucifer but someone else entirely.

We may think it is evil to be impatient in the midst of trials. Yet when we consider with Austin the full text of Job, we find Job is much more than the often one-dimensional figure we make him out to be. And in learning that, we learn so many gospel truths that we otherwise miss.

Listen as Sarah Hatch of LDS Perspectives Podcast interviews Michael Austin about wisdom literature, a more complete understanding of the nature of Job and his relationship with God, and what we can learn from arguably the greatest ancient poem ever written.

4 thoughts on “LDS Perspectives #52: The (Im)patient Job

  1. Interesting! Seeing the book of Job as a Hebrew instance of global wisdom literature (influenced by Persian culture of the day) is indeed different from what one hears in a standard Church setting.

    It was interesting to know that the satan of Job is modeled on the Persian court official who went around “testing” to see if people were actually loyal. Something like an undercover law enforcement agent posing as a drug dealer to see who buys.

    On the discussion of the redeemer, Mike informs us that the term is the same used in the book of Ruth for when Boaz took responsibility for raising up seed within the covenant on behalf of Ruth’s deceased husband. While in a traditional sense, that doesn’t seem similar to the role of the Judeo-Christian Christ, I would argue that Mormon beliefs elevate the role of righteous covenant parent to a level that puts it in the neighborhood of the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ on behalf of mankind. For a mother, she literally bleeds in order that her progeny become. In the case of the covenant father, he is the node that unites mother and child to the New and Everlasting Covenant, connecting the child to earlier generations (particularly in the case where the legal father died without issue). So in that sense one could see the mother as the link to the child and the father as the link to the expanded past (c.f. Malachi 4:6).

  2. This analysis of Job doesn’t go deep enough into the theodicy problem (why bad things happen to good people, given the nature of God as both just and caring). The Book of Job doesn’t owe its prominence to lessons on how to or not to comfort the suffering, valuable as those lessons may be. The Book of Job owes its prominence to the theological problem of unjust suffering. God knows, Job knows, and the reader knows that Job is innocent, as set out in the first two chapters of the book. The author and the reader, however, also have a high regard for God. The theological tension between faith and experience is real, and its seeming resolution in end of the book may or may not be satisfying to the reader. Analyze the book as you will, the theodicy problem remains for the reader to grapple with.

    To bring the story to recent history, consider how Jewish theology has attempted to reconcile the innocent suffering of victims of the Holocaust with the Jewish understanding of God, a God who not only cares for mankind, but who also has a special care for his chosen people. Moreover, Jewish theology doesn’t draw on a compensatory afterlife to resolve the problem. Latter-day Saints may find the view of suffering in the Book of Job through a post-Holocaust Jewish lens to be instructive.


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