Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What did we just do?

The Bible? We read out of the Bible?

What is it about the Book of Job that ties in with what we've been reading and discussing? What elements of literature are present in this book that make it a part of the tragic canon?

Here's what I want to know from each of you...

What is significant about the Christian use of the tragic character in the Book of Job? Discuss the similarities and differences between Job's experience/story and what Sophocles and Aristotle thought a tragedy should consist of. Is Job a tragic hero? Why or why not?

Answer the questions with full purpose and detail. Be honest here. Yes, others will see your posts and laugh hysterically, but who cares??? Be honest with yourself and be bold enough to include those thoughts here in the blogosphere. Respond to the questions for yourself, and then discuss (here) what your differing opinions and insights are with each other. Use quotes and examples from the text, using chapter:verse citations.

Remember to put your first name and last initial at the bottom of your post each time. No name or full name = NO CREDIT. Yes, that's ticky-tack. Yes, you're advanced students with advanced skills. First name, last initial.


BBAXLHS said...

Another quick comment...

Victor Hugo is quoted as having said, "Tomorrow, if all literature was to be destroyed and it was left to me to retain one work only, I should save Job."

What is so great about the Book of Job?

isha said...

the verse I was looking for is
chpt. 24 v. 24: (it's Jon speaking, he knows the wicked will not stay happy/successful)
"they are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn."

(This is Annalicia W)

isha said...

make that job, not jon

Anonymous said...

In Christianity Job is the person that we all aspire to be. He was a man who had it all, lost it all, and still remained faithful. Inspite of losing all of his sheep, camels, oxen, donkeys, and not to mention his ten children. He also loses his health. "I have been reduced to skin and bones and have escaped death by the skin of my teen." 19:20. But inspite of all of this loss, he rises out of it by his faith.

What Job went through is what Aristotle though a tragity was. Though the plot didn't happen all in one day, there was the reversal element. Actually there were two full reversals. First Job lost everything, and then he gained it all back, plus some. And there was a discovery. It wasn't a stroke of lightning (it was actually a whirlwind 38:1) but it was there. It came when God challenged Job to answer his questions.

And Job is a tragic hero. He was nobitly, not by birth but by wealth. He was better off than everyone else. "He owned seven thousand sheep, the thousand camels, five hundred teams of oxen, and five hundred female donkeys, and he emplayed many servants. He was, in fact, the richest person in the entire area." 1:3.
And though Job didn't have a "tragic flaw" to cause his downfall, he had the opposite. In being SO perfect, Job had to fall. Or so Satan felt.

Evylyn B.

BBAXLHS said...

Think about how many idioms and iconic sayings we use today that refer to some portion of the Job story.

She has the patience of Job.

The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.


What others do you recognize?

isha said...

First off, it would be nice to know when Job was written..
*Because if you thought the bible was written as a story and not "true, or a 'true' collection" it is conceivable that you could think that the structure of Job was stolen right from the Greek tragedy...
*Maybe we as a culture understand the "Tragic hero" because it is "true" and does actually happen in real life. Maybe that's why good greek tragedy needed the tragic hero. So from that point of view it's significant because it reflects life and that's why it is so popular.
-anna W

Anonymous said...

Like we discussed in class, there are several effects in the story of Job that could make it a tragedy. Job fell from a man that was “Perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil…this man was the greatest of al the men of the east.” Job fell from this stature to “Terrors are turned upon me… And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me.” The only trait that is missing to make it a tragedy is his flaw; is that he could have been too good.
Job was a good character to represent that even when you fall to your lowest you can still get up again. The character Job could demonstrate the phrase, “At least things can’t get any worse.”
Sara H

Anonymous said...

Like much of the Bible, and the Old Testament in particular, Job is a story with a moral. Almost a fable. Trust god through all your hardships, and you'll come out ahead. It's a good story to include in the Christian canon because it gives faithful readers a little bit of hope--no matter how bad things get, if I remain faithful god will reward me. (Whether that's really the case is of course questionable.)

The story is almost a dual "tragedy," in terms of reversal. Job progresses full circle, from high ("...this man was the greatest of all the men of the east" 1:3) to low ("my friends scorn me; my eyes poureth out tears unto god" 16:20), and back again ("So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning..." 42:12).

Aristotle firmly made clear that a tragedy must have a tragic hero, take place in the space of a day, and include reversal. Job is almost a tragic hero, though his "flaw" is in question, and the play does include reversal (twice), but the story takes place over a great deal of time, so it does not fully satisfy Aristotle's definition. Also, the tragedies that befell him were not his fault. He did not ask to be tested; it was Satan who said that a man shorn of all he holds dear cannot be righteous, and it was God who allowed Job to be tested. Really, Job was just a victim of a spat between the deity and the archenemy--he was a pawn. This is contrary to the idea of a tragedy, in which the hero takes his fate more or less into his own hands. Nothing that happened to Job could have been avoided, at least not through his own actions.

Commenting on your post: "Be honest with yourself for once" (!!!)

- Christina D.

Anonymous said...

The use of a tragic hero, in any context, is easy for an audience to relate and react to. In this sense, with the Christian use, the character Job is role model- a tool for instruction. Like Oedipus or Antigone, he is a character presented to teach a lesson about how to act (or not act), and how our actions have consequences (whether good or bad).

Aristotalian tragedy typically includes a 24 hour plot, reversal and discovery, and the elements of a tragic hero. As we discussed, the book of Job doesn't contain all these traits (ie. 24 hours, tragic flaw...). However, I still think Job qualifies as a tragic hero. He starts on a towering pedestal (of morality and wealth) and then falls from his high standing. This reversal puts him in the ranks of Oedipus and Creon.

In addition, I believe his LACK of a tragic flaw is key in the Christian use of a 'tragic' hero. The fact that he has no faults, that he is a 'perfect' man, and still goes through such devestation hits home for the audience. ~ What?! Even the good will suffer??! ~ ... The fact that Job STILL doesn't turn away from God, even in extreme circumstances, is the moral lesson of true devotion. Yes, he may question God, and be angry with him, but he never loses faith. And after he does question and cry out to God, he repents for his ignorance and anger.
"I know, Lord, that you are all-powerful; that you can do everything you want... I talked aobut things I did not understand, about marvels too great for me to know... I am ashamed of all I have said and repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:1-6) He is a devout and humble servant.

melisa a.

Anonymous said...

The character or Job is similar with the characters from the greek tragitys in that he is a good and ritous man and bad things happened to him such as loosing his sons and daugters, all of his flocks, and even his health. But unlike oedipus or Creon his character did not change he was constant in praising his lord through all of his trails.
In Sophocles and Aristotle's definition of what a tragedy should be they say that the characters should have a tragic fault, making the tragedy his fault but it was not the case in this story.
I think the book of Job is important in the christian religion, and in for anyone else becuse it shows a conviction and a dedication to something that someone belived in. The book showed a person who was willing to stick with what he belived to be right to him, even when he might be expected or it might be allowed that he should change becuse of outside influnences that were not his fault.
I think Job is a tragic hero becuse he suceeded in maintianing his integrity throughout all of the hard things that were happening to him.
Amanda Q

isha said...

And to answer your first question, I think he would save job because the piece is so hopeful. A man loses everything, but because he hangs in there, he gets it all back and more. It's a very hopeful ideal

Anonymous said...


If you remember back to the discussion of Oedipus' tragic flaw, I believe we toyed with the fact that his passion for truth, and his own nobleness and search for righteousness, may have been his tragic flaw. In a way, Job was very similar to Oedipus in their characteristic tragic flaws. So, in other words, his perfectionism was his tragic flaw. However, we have heard of scholars who believe that Oedipus did not have a tragic flaw for the very same reason that you believe Job did not have one. I personally believe that goodness in both of these cases counts as a tragic flaw, but I obviously did not write either one, so who am I to say?

Miss Holland

Anonymous said...

From Kirsten J.
I think that a primary purpose of the Book of Job (and the use of the tragic character Job) is to show humans find God unpredictable and impossible to understand, can't understand why events in their life happen, and question their faith. "Why me?" is a common question we ask ourselves, religious or not. Most religious folk who also posess brains often question their faith--Job does the same. Job and his 3 friends cover what seems to be every argument against faith and rebuttal for faith--Job acts as a sort of embodiment of one and all who question their faith.

Okay, I'm being unclear. What I'm trying to say is that the Book of Job tries to bridge the gap between logic and faith, show the transition where logic ends and faith is forced to take over. Logically, Job can't understand why his life has been ruined, and feels (logically) that is it a lose-lose situation: "If it is a contest of strength, he is the strong one!/If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him?/Though I am innocent, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse./I am blameless; I do not know myself;/I loathe my life./ It is all one; therefore I say, he detroys both the blameless and the wicked." Chapt. 9, v 19-21 Job expresses many of the doubts the faithful often have. His friends represent the "truths" of the lord, what the faithful part of a mind answers the questioning part of the mind with. And then, of course, the Book of Job goes on to prove that the Lord is right in justified in all that he does, and the believer will be rewarded. Personally, I find these connections hard to follow logically.

It is in this that Job's story differs from that of Aristotle's tragic hero: With the character flaw that tragic heroes must have, you can logically follow the cause of the fall, the falling itself, and the aftermath. I disagree with Evylyn when she writes that Job is a tragic hero. Job's story is "tragic" in the modern sense of the word, but it does not follow Aristotle's guidelines for a tragedy.

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Anonymous said...

I think that the Christian use of the tragic character in Job only emphasizes Job's awful turn of events. They set him up just like you would a Greek hero, with all of his riches and goodness, then they set about his downfall. But like we stated in class, we aren't entirely sure of what his tragic flaw may be. And if you ask me, I think that is where the large difference is between Job's story and greek tragedy.

He may have lost everything that was dear to him in his life, everything, but it wasn't to any particular fault of his own. Like Evylyn stated in class that he may have been to perfect, for Satan tempted him thus, but I think that that may be critical to say that a man is too good. It MAY have been brought upon him because he was so righteous, but is that entirely a bad thing? I think it is just a testament to how righteous of a man he was. His downfall was, in my opinion, only a test from God to determine his integrity and love of Christ. It was not a punishment for any wrong doing of his. And if I may delve into more of the Bible and other religious writings, as off topic as it may be, Heavenly Father uses Job as his extreme example of loss and suffering in a human being.

As to a reversal or discovery, I don't think they was ever really a reversal of sorts, and I don't think the discovery was of any undoing to Job. He may have discovered why he was put through all that he was, but it wasn't as if he remarked woe is me, or anything. He understood that all of these possesions of his that were taken away from him were not his to begin with. Once he discovered that he was being tested to reveal to the Lord what his love for Him was, he was humbled in his test. AND the bell just rang. Adios.

Anonymous said...

Another reason Job could be so popular is that we support the idea that it could never happen to us. So when we see something to another person we study the cause and effect of it.
Sara H.

Anonymous said...

Job is a character that is afflicted with strife and misery. He is a righteous man and a prosperous man who knows the power of his god. Despite his purity and piety, God decides to test Job. The irony of Job's arguments are related to irony seen in other pieces of writing that we've read. Job tries to justify himself, speaking of what he knows God sees and is only further put off by the messengers. In Chapter fifteen, Eliphaz the Temanite tells him that his own words bring his punishment and despair. He accuses Job of vanity because of Job's arguments or questions. He accuses that He should accept his fate and should only accept it, and to not question why, or speak of what he believes are God's reasons for justice.
The use of this story in the Bible is significant because of the lesson of faith and perseverance throughout it. In chapter thirteen Job says, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him...". This message is one that would be convenient to have in a book that promotes faith in the god of Job.
Job's character does not seem to have much of a flaw. This difference divides this story from those of Oedipus and Antigone. The tragic falls from grace in those stories are accompanied by character faults. Job's only fault, it seems, is that he is so sure of his righteousness which, in the Christian faith, would seem to be a significant fault.
Tyler D.

Anonymous said...

Thats me above! Steven B.

Anonymous said...

Job is a tragic hero. He goes through a test of faith and passes it. It is irrelevant whether or not he passed it knowingly. In a test of faith it is a person’s morals and religious fervor that get them through not their understanding of the situation. Job is much like the Aristotelian tragedy in that it shows how far a person can fall from grace or a place of importance. It also shows how a person deals with the fall and what they get from the experience. The defining factor in-between a Christian and a Aristotelian tragedy is the outcome.

Where a Christian tragedy is meant to inspire and teach faith the Aristotelian tragedy is about many topics but always ending in tragedy. In the story of Job the ending shows Job getting back his former state of affairs, “ten fold.” His faith was what got Job through the test and so to inspire the reader towards belief the story places him back into his previous power. Now in an Aristotelian tragedy the ending always showed the authors message through gory example. In Oedipus, Oedipus stabs out his eyes and banishes himself from the kingdom and in Antigone everyone either dies or falls from grace permanently. The point in this sort of tragedy is to make the reader question their morals through example but not to inspire the reader into a belief.

In this way Job is a tragic hero because he passes a test and comes out of it in better fortunes. In a Aristotelian tragedy the main characters are almost always end the play severely diminished from what they were previously. One is made to inspire through the passing of a tragedy and the other is made to exemplify an idea through a devastating tragedy.

Russell. V.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kirsten that the story of Job does not follow the guidelines of an Aristotelian tragedy, (although it is tragic) and in that lies the difference between Job and the tragic heros of Aristotle and Sophocles. Although in both of the experiences of Job and Oedipus the characters fall from a content and a happy life to a life of misery, Job's misfortune is not because of a tragic flaw. (Unless his flaw is that he is flawless). His misfortune is not because of his own actions, but because of the challenge between Satan and God. Oedipus and Creon on the other hand, fell because of their pride (or whatever you view their flaw is). Also the story of Job lacks occuring in one day, although that is a minor issue.
As for the significance of this story in Christianity? I do not think it is suppose to INSPIRE us to become faithful followers of god, but instead scare us. Who honestly would want to experience what Job experienced? I dont think it's to show us how to behave as a christian, (because its apparent that even the best christian will face hardships) I think its suppose to strike fear in us of the power of God. Remind us that we are humans and that our lives are in his hands, so you better appease him and not disobey him, blame him, curse him, etc... anyways the bell is about to ring, so I suppose thats the end of this.

Rachel M.