Friday, April 04, 2008

Is the Devil in the book of Job?

For the longest time many have believed that God may have "allowed" "Satan" (aka: the Devil) to test Job as seen in the first couple chapters of Job. However, Tyler Williams posted a blog on what the word "satan" in Job actually means back in March - I just learned of it the other day through Chris Heard's site. Tyler Williams has a good argument - the term "satan" (a transliteration of the Hebrew) does not refer to that creature often known as "the devil" (formerly known as "Lucifer" and seen in the Revelation, as "the Dragon"). HEre is a key Quote to consider:
In the prose prologue to the book of Job we are introduced to “the satan” (‏השטן‎) who is among the “sons of Elohim” (‏בני האלהים‎) (1:6). It is pretty clear that this passage isn’t referring to “Satan” (i.e., the king of demons) since the Hebrew noun “satan” has a definite article. The biblical text refers to “the satan”, not “Satan.” Personal names in Hebrew (as in English) do not take the definite article. I don’t go around referring to myself as “The Tyler” — and if I did, people would think I was weirder than they already think I am.....Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the figure of “the satan” in the book of Job is not sinister; he does question the motives behind Job’s fear of Yahweh, but he is not the “Satan” found in the New Testament.
One issue that is interesting is how to view the Old Testament - many want to let it speak for itself and say "in context" such and such. Yet we see in the NT, nearly every Gospel writer, Paul and the rest put forth Jewish or Hebrew exegesis of the Old Testament - some seemingly take things out of context and apply them to Jesus for various theological reasons - or at least it is a part of their exegetical method. Interestingly there are some OT folks who might disagree with Paul's interpretation of certain OT texts that he looks at in the light of Christ. One of my NT profs from seminary told me about an OT guy he listened to embarassingly disagree with Paul!

So what do you think? Could "‏השטן‎" refer to the devil or some other angelic being? Does the context support one or the other?



At 3:28 PM, Blogger Nathan Stitt said...

I've only recently been exposed to this idea. I was raised with the understanding that it refers to Satan but I'm not tied to that interpretation. Someone else blogged on this exact same subject but it's taken me until just now to find it again. You can have a read here.

At 3:47 PM, Blogger Nathan Stitt said...

Peter Kirk has posted a nice summary including the link I previously posted as well as another. I find myself wishing I had something more productive to say but I'm still mulling the whole idea over.


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