In this post by Siriusbizinus, there was reference to another blog where the writer seems to ridicule what he considers the atheist’s take on the story of Job. I barely skimmed the other blog posting, but it did get me to thinking about the story of Job and how (mostly Fundamental) Christians believe that “Satan” played such an important role in what happened to Job.
If you’ve read my book, you know I don’t believe in the existence of “Satan.” So how then do I explain what happened to Job?
From my book (Chapter 5):
In the prologue of Job’s book, we are told that “Satan” joined some angels (heavenly beings) for a meeting with God (Job 1:6). Surprisingly, it seemed to be a fairly friendly encounter – certainly not what you would expect if this was the Big Bad Guy! It took only a little investigation to discover why. The word used here is exactly the same as the examples cited previously; that is, ha-satan. In fact, there is a footnote in nearly every English Bible that indicates the more literal translation is “accuser.”
However, this still didn’t explain why God allowed ha-satan to wreak havoc on Job’s life. With a little more delving, I learned that this particular “accuser” had a special function in God’s divine court. It was his job to “go to and fro on the earth” and look for any signs of disloyalty among humans and then report on them to his Supervisor. Elaine Pagels (The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics) describes him as a “roving intelligence agent.” Several other sources call him “God’s prosecuting attorney.” The important thing to note is that it was not his job to stir up trouble, just to report on it. He worked for God, not against God.
During this particular heavenly meeting, the adversary speculates about Job’s dedication and commitment. He points out that it’s easy to be faithful when someone lives such a charmed life. God disagrees, but decides to allow the accuser to test Job. Important note: the “Satan” in this story is not an independent agent. He is a member of God’s heavenly court and must have God’s permission before he can do anything.
Job is an interesting story and one that many scholars believe is nothing more than a type of folk tale (parable, fable, allegory) written to assure the Israelites living during the terrible times of the Exile that God remained faithful. Fundamental Christians, on the other hand, prefer to see the story quite differently. For them, the story is totally true with Job as a prototype of Jesus (the “Man of Sorrows”) and “Satan” as the supernatural Big Bad Guy harassing a faithful man of God.
Added note: I did see one thing on the other blog that stood out. The blogger wrote (referencing theologian John Gill, 1697-1771):
Satan, although an angelic being, is fallen, sinful, reprobate and so had “no proper business there …”
Of course, my natural question is where in the bible does it say — and don’t reference “Lucifer” in Isaiah because you would be wrong (a posting for another time) – that Satan is a fallen, sinful, and reprobate angelic being?