It’s a problem as old as monotheism: how can a just, beneficent God allow bad things to happen to good people?
That’s the problem at the heart of the biblical Book of Job, the story of the righteous Job who endures terrible torments just because God decides to test his righteousness. So we, the readers, know from the start that Job is innocent and that God has decided to torture him for no good reason.
You probably can’t get a better introduction to the Book of Job than this dramatic two-part lecture (iTunes part 1, iTunes part 2)by University of Michigan literature professor Ralph Williams. Williams talks about the book and its structure, but more important, he gives dramatic readings from the book and explores its emotional and philosophic core.
In another world Williams could have been a Shakespearean actor or a fire and brimstone preacher, with his high rhetorical style and expressive voice that can, within a few phrases, go from anger to anguish to calm resignation. It’s probably not an exaggeration to say that this presentation is as much one man show as it is a lecture.
Technical note: In order to get the full impact of Williams’ performance, I recommend that you view the video podcast. However the video files are quite large, and if you want to transfer them to a portable audio player, check out the new, free RealPlayer, which comes with a nifty file conversion program, that easily converts video files to audio files.
(Special thanks go to reader Marisa, who wrote to recommend this lecture.)
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