Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Eleonore Stump's "second person context" interpretation on Job

As I was preparing for my exam on the theodicies in the OT, I chanced upon Eleonore Stump's interpretation of the divine speech (Job 38-42) in second person context and second person experience. Stump is a philosopher at Saint Louis University with expertise in medieval philosophy, theodicy, Thomas Aquinas and Augustine. A brilliant woman.

She engages with Marvin Pope's commentary on Job. Pope thought that God didn't give Job an answer in those latter chapters of the book. Stump differs. She concludes that God's answer to Job is to show him God's caring, loving and steadfast relationship with the creation (for eg. God created the Behemoth and loves it and provides for it).

Hence Stump suggests that God is not merely asserting his sovereignty over Job and the creation, but appealing to Job as a father appeals to a son to trust God that he is taking care of him no matter what have happened. So, it is not that God scolded Job, "You who are made of dust, dare you question me!?" Instead, God was saying to Job, "My child, look at how I have loved everything in this world. I have will their good. So it is also with you. Trust me."

Stump also highlights the second person experience of the book. The experience is a real, immediate and direct experience. Not an experience derived from reading a theological treatise about God. Job met God. This encounter changes the relationship that Job previously had with God. He used to read, pray, meditate and think about God. Now, God is in-front of him.

Stump asked us to imagine a scenario. A baby who was kidnapped and secluded from the rest of the human world by a mad scientist. The baby grew up in seclusion where she doesn't know there is another human like herself. The child was taught everything about the world but without any contact with a real human. Then one day, the child escaped and found by her real mother. Guess how she feels to be touched, hugged, kissed, cared for, and loved for the first time by her mother? That is her first time second-person experience. And so was Job with God.

I find Stump's interpretation fascinating. So, just to share with you. The MP3 can be found here.

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