Re the Daily Office Readings September 4 Anno Domini 2020


The Lessons: Job 19:1-7, 14-27; Acts 13:13-25; John 9:18-41

Job’s speech continues to develop previously introduced themes. Around vv.7-12 the distinction between Job’s fate and Jerusalem’s fate (586 BC) pretty much disappears. Job’s call for “pity” (v.21) echoes standard wisdom instruction (Prov 14:21, 31). Job again looks to someone (anyone!) to arbitrate his dispute with God (vv.25-27). With apologies to Handel, capitalization of ‘Redeemer’ is a theological dead end (Wrathful God vs. Merciful Jesus—see August 28 post).

The Lectionary omits chapters 20 (Zophar on the doom of the wicked) and 21 (Job on the prosperity of the wicked). The oppression of the poor emerges as a key element in Zophar’s description of the wicked (vv.19-21), and Eliphaz will accuse Job of the same in chapter 22.

Re whether the oppressing wicked in fact prosper, our experience suggests that Job has the stronger argument. Here, as with other themes in the wisdom traditions, More in Bolt’s A Man for all seasons provides useful commentary: “If we lived in a State where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us good, and greed would make us saintly. And we’d live like animals or angels in the happy land that needs no heroes. But since in fact we see that avarice, anger, envy, pride, sloth, lust and stupidity commonly profit far beyond humility, chastity, fortitude, justice and thought, and have to choose, to be human at all…” So we’re back to “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (1:9)

Acts. The beginning of Paul’s speech is partly throat-clearing, partly stage-setting. Paul’s news is as important as Israel’s prior key moments (the exodus, king David) and it is news already announced by the prophets. If “put up with them” rather than “cared for them” is the correct reading in v.18, Paul’s also warning the audience not to repeat their ancestors’ mistakes.

John. “…for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.” The underlined phrase translates aposunagōgos (only in John: here; 12:42; 16:2). In every generation God’s people have opportunity to prove Jesus’ words true: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep” (Lk. 7:32).

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