NPR’s “The Secret Book of Job”; A Surprising Take on an Ancient Biblical Story

If you were raised Christian or Jewish, you are likely familiar with the book of Job from the old testament.  I’ve read it recently, and I’ve always felt really sorry for Job.   Although I am no longer a Christian, NPR aired a re-telling of the Job story called “The Secret Book of Job” with a really surprising ending that, I believe, resonates better with how we might feel in that situation.  In my opinion, the new ending is far more satisfying, though the devout might not agree.

If you aren’t familiar with the Job story, you can read it here.  Basically, Job is a blameless man who has a comfortable life and is extremely pious.  Satan challenges God by suggesting that Job only appreciates God because God has blessed him with a large family, a beautiful wife, fruitful crops and plenty of cattle.  Satan proposes a wager: If God allows Satan to take away everything that Job holds dear, then Job will turn his back on God.  God agrees, and Satan burns his fields, destroys the cattle, all of his sons die.  When that isn’t enough to turn Job away from God, Satan attacks Job himself, causing blindness, sores – everything except death, which God forbade.

Although Job is confused, upset, angry, irrational (rightly so), he doesn’t turn his back on God.  He questions his judgement, but doesn’t disbelieve.  For that, God has mercy on Job and returns everything that he had lost – he received twice the land, more cattle, more children (different children, not the ones who perished) and Job himself is healed.

The moral of the story is that Christians should not equate suffering with sin; God’s will be done, and faith should be strongest during the darkest hours of one’s life.

That always seemed unsatisfying to me, and quite honestly, mean.  However, last night NPR aired the story of job told in a way that makes more sense in terms of how we, as modern humans, would likely react to such a situation.  It’s well worth listening to.

Use the link below to open the player on NPR.org (it will open in a new tab).

Listen to NPR’s “The Secret Book of Job”

It’s worth actually listening to the story instead of just reading the transcript because the dramatic rendition is really powerful, but if you wish instead to read it, the transcript is also available.

Now THIS is a Job that I can identify with.  Because sometimes the God of the Old Testament can be a jerk.  Yes.  I said it.

What do you think of how Job feels at the end?  Is he justified?  Please share in the comments!

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