The Book of Job 38-42: Transformative Encounters through Creation

While recognizing the beauty of this text, some scholars portray the Divine as the proud bully who outtalks Job and is indifferent to his sufferings. Kathleen O’Connor, however, shows the significance of Job’s experience of beauty and the wild freedom of Creation and Creator, while Dianne Bergant focuses on the awesome God manifested through the natural world. Both show the transformative power of these encounters.


a. The Experience of Beauty and the Wild Freedom of Creation and Creator
The speeches of God are typical of the Wisdom genre which gives instruction. They use Creation to provide knowledge about the human world. Rhetorical questions invite Job and the reader to draw their own conclusions on the meaning of their storm. The storm, the whirlwind and the wild energy provide the setting of the divine speeches. The storm evokes images of biblical epiphanies as well as Job’s own personal storm, and it implies the Divine to be wild, free, beautiful and deeply unsettling. The speeches show God’s power and awesomeness and His pride in the cosmos. At the same time, Creation mirrors God and the different aspects of Job’s personality, his beauty, and his life. What is the transformation that Job experiences in this encounter with beauty and wild freedom in Creation and in the Creator? Beauty transforms Job and opens him to an expanded vision of his place in the world during the storm. Beauty, O’Connor says, does not explain the suffering of Job but transforms it. She points to three effects of beauty has on Job:

• Beauty focuses one outward, relinquishing one’s held position as the centre of the world.
• Beauty creates a sharpened attentiveness/ alertness that enables one to recognise injustice and opens oneself to care for the world.
• Beauty incites creativity, generates new beauty and harmony extending the realm of care to the entire cosmos.

b. The Awesome God is Manifested in the Natural World
Dianne Bergant notes that it is in Job’s “encounter with God through the manifestations of the natural world (38:1-41:26) that he comes to see that reality is not subject to the rigid pattern of retribution but to the freedom of God who is a provident Creator.” The rhetorical questions of God are focused on nature and they lead Job to greater depth beyond the information that answers to such questions could give. The Creator God, while referring to the structures and workings of the world as well as to the behaviors of animals, leads Job to focus on the awesome God who is manifested through the natural world. “The natural world was not only born of the creativity of God, it also bears the features of this creativity. Every property of Creation mirrors something of the Creator…the medium through which God is revealed is itself the revelation.”

That is why Job is able to say: “Now my eye has seen you!” The theophany is revelatory and liberating. Job has been released from the prison of his worldview into God’s perspective: the value of Creation is beyond human usefulness, his suffering has been resituated in a broader context and he has made a shift from an anthropocentric to a cosmocentric worldview. The encounter with the Creator God led him to this new and transforming vision of all that he is, his storm, the natural world and his image of who God is. Job has become a chastened cosmic mystic: humble and filled with reverent awe before Creation and Mystery!

In Genesis 2:15 the human being formed from the earth is told to “cultivate and care” for all that God has given and in Genesis 9:12-16, the Creator makes an eternal Covenant after the flood with Noah and every living creature. The rainbow is the living sign of this enduring Cosmic Covenant with all things (Edwards )


Taken from`Towards an Eco assumption’ 3 a Biblical foundations of Ecology : – by Mary Cecilia Claparols

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