Biblical Quizzes for Really Smart People
Quiz III--Movies II
Quiz VII--X rated
Quiz VIII--X rated
Quiz X- The Numbers
Quiz XXIX (Messiah)
Quiz XXX (Messiah II)
Quiz XXXI (Mess. III)
Quiz XXXII (Mess. IV)
Quiz XL--vivid images
Quiz LIX--weird doct.
Quiz LXV--doctrine II
Bible Quizzes for Smart People LVII
Bill Long 2/21/07
1. "This would be my consolation; I would even exult in unrelenting pain," NRSV. The RSV has "I would even exult in pain unsparing." The Anchor Bible Commentary on this passage has, "I would revel in the racking pain."
I gave three different translations not to show that there is unanimity on the passage (indeed, the KJV translates it: "yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare...") but to give me an opportunity to talk about how we sometimes can bring meaning into texts even when we don't know what they say. That is, the passage is generally considered untranslatable, but I nevertheless made it my own in the midst of a personal crisis about 14 years ago. I recall, in my self-absorbed state, feeling that my little world was coming to an end, walking around the house and muttering, "I would even exult in pain unsparing" (because I had memorized the RSV of the passage). My wife, in true "Job's wife" fashion, told me basically to "curse God"...though she didn't add "and die." Where is that verse by the way? That is a softball lobbed to you. Well, back to my story. So, I decided to "give up" on God. I basically told God that s/he could go his/her own way and I would go mine. Belief in God was causing to much distress for me, because it seemed to be so inconsistent with the pain I was feeling. For the next decade, then, I blissfully followed my own course. I still don't know where I "am," really, now but I know I don't feel the desperate pain of the mid-1990s, where I went aroudn saying, "I would even exult in pain unsparing." Where do you find this verse, by the way?
2. "And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night?....I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them."
This verse is the obverse of # 1. I was hoping so much that God would grant me some kind of "justice," though I wasn't sure of the form of it. It didn't happen. But the verse bolded here says that God's justice comes quickly. God will quickly vindicate those who cry to to him. Do you believe it? If so, how do you explain so many seeming injustices in our world and even in the lives of those you love? A friend of mine, who attempts to be a faithful Christian, confided in me the other day how so many of her friends now are facing steep mountains in their lives. The problem is not only the mountains they face but the fact that they are such good people. My friend said the plaintive words of many throughout the world in similar situations: "It just isn't fair." These basic questions--about the fairness of life, the goodness of God, the silence or intervention of God on our behalf, etc., these basic questions will never go away. The passage bolded above, however, has a definite "take" on the issue. Where do you find this pasage?
3. "The words of Job are ended."
Huh? You want me to give you that verse? It is so easy. Obviously it is in the Book of Job, and you just have to go to the place where Job stops speaking. And, what can be the significance of this verse? It just says what we all know, that Job stops speaking. Well, I think the verse has a rather significant psychological meaning in the Book of Job. Here it is. One of the things that bugs Job most deeply is the fact of God's apparent silence. Indeed, Job has asked God to show up for many, many chapters. But God doesn't do so. And so Job rails against God, against his friends, against his situation. He verges sometimes on the uncontrollable, and the beauty and absolute hopelessness of his poetry is forever etched in the Western consciousness. But my point is that God was silent in the Book of Job until "the words of Job are ended," because Job couldn't have heard God before that time. We often aren't able to hear another person until we let them have "talked themselves out," as we say. If someone interrupts us before we are finished reciting our complaint, we will just bulldoze right over them or not listen to what they have said. One has to wait until the person's complaint is over. Then, actually, the best techique (I learned this from being a litigator) is to say to the furious person who has just dumped a huge load on you, "Is there anything else?" When the person says, "No," you have the person where you want them. The person who has been so furious, and whose furious momentum continues even after they have finished speaking, is now gradually able to "hear" what someone will say in response. Thus, when I read these words in the text of Job, I stop and think that the author is waiting for the fury of Job's final words to subside. Like a train that has roared through the station and now disappears into the distance, fading gradually both from sight and sound, so Job's "roaring" is at the end. Pretty soon God will speak. Maybe this is compatible after all with # 2 above.
4. "The lion has roared, who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?"
This verse came to mind as I was writing the last lines of the previous item. Job was "roaring" against God. So, I recalled this verse. These words are precious ones, for they emphasize the necessity laid upon a prophet of God. Some of the prophets emphasize how God called them and sent them to their task by using words from the sacred liturgy (Is. 6) or from the language of childbirth (Jer. 1), but this text speaks the raw language of the jungle. We hear the lion roar and we fear. Well, the Lord's call in the life of a prophet is that insistent. It is like an inner roar of a lion. Who can't speak? I recall a colleague of mine telling me once of his experience growing up in the Bronx in the 1950s-1960s. The Bronx is the most urban of environments of America but he told me he grew up near the Bronx Zoo. Every night when he was about to go to bed he could hear the lions roaring from the zoo. In the middle of urban America, the lions roared. Maybe you have heard their roar in your inner heart, and have a necessity of some kind laid on you. What is that necessity? What have you heard? What must you say now to the world? Who is the biblical character that writes this verse?
5. "All that I have is yours."
Just those words. These are, in my judgment, the most wonderful words in one of the most wonderful stories in the Bible. It is the entire message of the Bible in a nutshell. God is not speaking these words in the passage, but a person who "stands" for God is saying them. Thus, they take on a theological significance of enormous importance. All that God has is ours. Is that believable? Well, I suppose that if we started asking about some things ('give me strength, God, so I can pick up two dump trucks and win the strong man competition') it might not work, but the words are suggestive nevertheless. It emphasizes our riches and wealth when we spend a lot of time thinking about how poor we are or what we don't have. It stresses that what we really need, we already have. The values of the restless consumer-driven nation in which I live (the USA), where marketers and corporate powers try to tell us that we don't really have everything we need, are not the Biblical values --or at least the values of these words. If we truly believed that we had all we needed, not only would we be more faithful to the Word of God, but America would certainly fall into a huge economic recession.