How does the suffering of Job and sensuality of the Song of Songs fit into Christian theology?
Just as I warned about talking theology!) A couple of aspects of these texts often shock or dismay some readers. First, many readers are shocked by the horrifying degree of suffering Job is allowed to endure (including the deaths of his innocent family members). To make things more extreme, many readers are not satisfied with God's refusal to give Job an answer for his question about why he suffers. What are your reactions to these elements of that text?
Second, the obvious romantic passion that seems to be working in the discourse of the "Song of Songs" takes a number of readers aback. Do you think that the physical joys celebrated in the text can be reconciled with the larger Biblical message, OT or NT?
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The Book of Job and Song of Songs have both been both problematic and fertile sources for theological reflection among Christians, and were among the books most often selected as topics for commentaries in late antiquity and the middle ages.
The Song of Songs has been interpreted as an allegory of God’s love for the Church. Since humans cannot comprehend the depth of God’s love, commentators have argued, this love is portrayed in terms of the love we can most understand, human love. Another group of commentators emphasize that because human love is an image of divine love and part of God’s plan for humanity, that the sensuality can be read literally (note that while some Christians see sexuality as inherently sinful, others do not).
Job is a key text for the question of “theodicy” or divine justice. In Christian theology, earthly life is a very short period, designed as test and preparation for heavenly life. One can think of it like getting a vaccine – as the needle hurts for an instant but prevents a much longer and more serious illness, suffering on earth may prevent eternal torment.
The paradoxical nature both books, theologians argue, is designed to make Christians think deeply about their faith and understand it profoundly rather than just accepting it in a blind and superficial way.
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