Suffering and The Book of Job Essay

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Suffering and The Book of Job

The concepts of suffering addressed in "The Book of Job" have no relevance to the ideas of suffering expressed in eastern religions such as Buddhism and Jainism. In fact, for Buddhists, the cause of suffering was discovered some 2,500 years ago by a prince from India named Sidhartha Gautama. This man, who was known as the Buddha, taught that suffering was caused by the craving for material things; ergo, cessation from suffering could be attained by detaching oneself from the things of this world (Ianuale). Had Job been exposed to these strictly eastern concepts of suffering, his outlook on his vicissitudes would have been quite different indeed.

"The Book of Job" is an epic
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Job argues with each man, never wavering in his insistence that he is guiltless. This great debate continues until Job becomes tired of his friends' ill advice and expresses his desire to argue his case with God himself. His friends fall silent, knowing that they cannot sway Job from his self-righteousness. God then appears to Job as a powerful whirlwind and questions Job, unmercifully, as to whether he could perform the works of God. It is through this barrage that Job comes to accept, without question, his lot, and the awesome power of God.

The end of the story has Job restored to his former state, living a long and prosperous life. As for his friends, they are not so lucky. God punishes them for misrepresenting Him, and asks that they give burnt offerings to Him, while Job prays for them.

Alas, poor Job is left to ponder why such misfortunes were heaped upon him, for God never really answers this question. Moreover, throughout history, people have been pondering the very same question. Many books and essays have been written on "The Book of Job" in an attempt to try to explain the cause of suffering, but the theories that have been extracted have had primarily western theological overtones.

In "God Has Need of Man", Archibald MacLeish dives head-first into the question of suffering. MacLeish finds that the meaning of suffering lies in the idea that God needs the love of man to exist.
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