Re the Daily Office Readings August 27 Anno Domini 2020

Photo by Annie Spratt

The Lessons: Job 8:1-10, 20-22; Acts 10:17-33; John 7:14-36

Job. Bildad: “if you are pure (zak) and upright (yashar), surely then he will rouse himself for you and restore to you your rightful place.” This would be more convincing had not both the narrator and God described Job as “blameless (tam) and upright (yashar)” (1:1, 8; 2:3). Pulling back the camera, one of the issues in play in the book is the variety of images or metaphors for God, each with their corresponding set of expectations. If God is King, one expects (traditionally) the righteous to be rewarded and the wicked punished. But an inherent limitation of metaphor is that the metaphor itself does not tell us when it is applicable. “For everything there is a season” (Eccl 3:1) applies also to the metaphors we choose to employ to interpret God’s action, and here too we, like Job’s friends, can choose with various combinations of wisdom and folly.

John. Jesus: “Whoever wants to do God’s will can tell whether my teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own” (CEB). We might hear this as a more careful restatement of “search, and you will find” (Matt 7:7) for it includes the proviso of prior commitment on our part.

In passing, the Greek thelō covers the range from ‘to desire’ (stressing the affective) to ‘to will’ (stressing the volitional). Likewise thelēma, from ‘what is desired’ to ‘what is willed’. Translating into English is challenging: “Whoever desires to do what God desires” and “Whoever wills to do what God wills” are both possible, but have quite different connotations. Here, and elsewhere, it’s helpful to keep the range in mind.

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