Homework Help

In The Broken Estate, what is Woods saying about the nature of God & the nature of...

user profile pic

bluesboy6 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 16, 2010 at 6:05 AM via web

dislike 1 like

In The Broken Estate, what is Woods saying about the nature of God & the nature of Scripture in relation to the Book of Job in Scripture?

Mr. Wood says in relation to Coleridge (p.xiii) that "if we are to believe the Scriptures...it will be because of the novel-like effect these writings have on our hearts, and not because the church has simply asserted that they are supernatural and infallible," speaking in reference to Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit. Then, in referring to the Book of Job, Wood also states, "God could not have written a novel-like story that was such an argument against Himself...He does not have negative capability."

What is the meaning of Wood's assertions? Is he suggesting that a just and loving God could not have acted in such an arbitrary and seemingly mean-spirited way as is recorded in the Book of Job: is Wood defending God?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted May 17, 2010 at 3:56 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 1 like

In these two quotes from The Broken Estate, Wood is defining Judaeo-Christian Scripture as being novel-like in its best influence. Based on the quotation, Wood seems a proponent of an interpretation of the Book of Job that is in some manner "an argument against Himself [God]," an interpretation that highly arguable. He then asserts God "has no negative capability," which is at best an unusual and broad general statement. Magill’s Literary Annual 1991-2005 asserts that Wood has a tendency toward "flat and categorical statements that may not always be valid." God is usually defined by his positive attributes of love, merciful lovingkindness, etc, but he is also defined by his actions as recorded in the "novel-like" record of Scripture, actions like the throwing Jonah into the maw of a whale, which may justly be understood as showing "negative capability" and therefore contradicting the claim that God "has no negative capability."

If it is argued that the Book of Job is "such an argument against" God because Job is made to suffer, his friends torment him and accuse him falsely, and God reveals himself in the wrath of a whirlwind (an argument which disregards the prologue of the Book), then the meaning of "God could not have written a novel-like story that was such an argument against Himself...He does not have negative capability" can be understood in reference to the tendency to define God by his attributes alone, as mentioned above. If God is that which his positive attributes attest, then as a God of positive attributes, God could not have written / caused to be written / inspired to be written a "novel-like" story that reveals negative qualities. The relevance of such an argument would be the assertion that therefore Judaeo-Christian Scripture is confirmed as having a "novel-like effect [of] these writings have on our hearts" without divine inspiration and without any validity to an opposing assertion that "they [Scriptures] are supernatural and infallible."

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes