Job. I find Newsom’s approach to the Elihu speeches helpful: in the Persian/Hellenistic periods there’s increasingly attention paid to the dynamics of repentance (Prayer of Manasseh, Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4); the Elihu speeches are inserted in part to develop this theme. Is repentance barely offstage in our other two texts, the implied preferred course of action for Paul’s and Jesus’ interlocutors?
Acts. Luke’s “orderly account” (Lk 1:3) may strain the reader’s patience: the Jews “filled with jealousy; and blaspheming,” Paul and Barnabas speaking out “boldly” and claiming to the that “light for the Gentiles.” I am still thinking about Job’s questions:
7 Will you speak falsely for God,
and speak deceitfully for him?
8 Will you show partiality toward him,
will you plead the case for God?
9 Will it be well with you when he searches you out?
Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another?
10 He will surely rebuke you
if in secret you show partiality.
11 Will not his majesty terrify you,
and the dread of him fall upon you? (Job 13:7-11)
Or, perhaps more directly: Luke’s citation of the “Golden Rule:” does it apply (as in today’s Acts reading) to how we describe those who disagree with us?
John. “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” In all the Gospel accounts Jesus is reluctant to engage that question directly, perhaps (also) because ‘Messiah’ is too misleading a title. Jesus points (again) to his works, and talks about his “sheep” (the shepherd image also having heavy messianic overtones—see here and here). Jesus’ “you do not belong to my sheep” could be a conversation stopper; it could reset the conversation.