We pick back up with Ford’s discussion of wisdom by looking at the book of Job. Ford states, “The wisdom pedagogy of the book of Job is as far as possible away from ‘packaged’ answers. It is about the most fundamental questioning and searching, including radical and controversial interrogation of wisdom and its traditions; but even that is not primary: it is above all about being questioned and searched” (93). The reader therefore, following Job, is invited to undergo this same process. What follows is again a low-flying biblical-exegetical analysis of the text of Job, peppered with commentary and interaction along the way. Along these lines, Ford states,
In being offered the possibility of blessing God for God’s sake, Job is given a relationship within which he can search and be searched as he wrestles with the worst” 104).
Ford turns a corner to focus on the implicit but nonetheless relevant issue of the creation and creature’s standing before God. Creation itself, has its own dignity and beauty, and should be celebrated for its own sake. The logic in Job, he claims, is that if creation deserves to be valued for its own sake, how much more the Creator? Further therefore, as humankind is part of this grand creation, they too have an intrinsic value of their own, and they too point back to the vastness of the Creator. Job’s suffering created a situation where this reality could be known, and shed light on the “inadequacy of the wisdom learnt in his time of virtuous prosperity” (115).
This discussion turns, importantly in my opinion, to the relationships in Job and their ultimate failure. “The core of Job’s response is a passionate protest that the friends do not hear and understand his specific cry” (125).
The friends began by crying out, weeping aloud and sitting with Job for seven days and nights (2:12-13). But their received wisdom cannot cope with Job’s agonised interrogation of his suffering and of their interpretations. They are not able to rethink in line with their initial impulse of compassion. It is compassion that loses out” (126).
God’s transcendence, in turn, becomes indifference. This is what Job will not allow. Job cries out to God because God is near, not because God is removed, far and unconcerned.
Ford’s analysis turns from Job as the embodiment of desire to Jesus. “In his ministry that begins after the temptations Jesus might be seen as teaching and enacting a God-centered wisdom of desire” (159). This leads Ford to a Christological read of Job, where he offers five lines of interest to explore Christology in relation to Job. First, Ford suggests a parallel he titles “The desire of God,” where he highlights similarities between God’s approval of Job and his approval of Jesus (at baptism). Second, he emphasizes, again, the theme of crying out:
Job is therefore a text of first resort in attempting to do justice to the story of Jesus through the endless search for resonant images, stories, ideas and implications” (171).
Third, Ford takes the “God-centered desire” thread of Job and compares it with Luke’s Gospel. Fourth, he looks at what he calls “Desire in the contingencies of history,” addressing the dramatic and truly historic realities in which desire was tested, and the fear of God won the day over abundance. Lastly, Ford suggests, is the idea of “wisdom after multiple overwhelmings,” or, wisdom after trauma. Jesus, like Job, experienes and wisely navigates both temptation and trauma, but the parallels here end, in many ways with Jesus (Ford addresses some of these, not least of which is the fact that Job starts with suffering and the Gospel’s end with it).
This account is interesting. What do you think about the move to talk about Job as wisdom, and therefore open the door for a Christological read? How should this kind of move be categorized? Is it simply typology?