Your Friday Firestorm #31

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them. And the LORD said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?

(Job 1:6-9)

Discuss. And have a good weekend.

Next week: the curelom comes out of its stable as the Zeitcast returns. Here’s the last one, to refresh your memories.


  1. Name (required) says:

    If politicians (in the same party) got along as well as God and Satan, it would be a better world.

  2. I think the term “red hot poker” hailed from this incident.

  3. Peter LLC says:


    Sweet. I’ll be looking forward to matching voices to e-personas.

  4. Sorry, I had my facts mixed, linguists believe Job inspired the phrase “Taking one for the Lord”.

  5. The sons of God went to present themselves before the Lord and Satan (though cast out of heaven) was able to infiltrate. Huh…

    And of course this is happening while we’re here on earth, during Job’s time. Who are the sons of God that presented themselves before the Lord? Why are they presenting themselves? What’s going on dang it!

  6. Who would play Job in the movie version?

    Mel Gibson would be a popular choice (on many levels) and would probably find it healing to play a persecuted Jew.

    Brad Pitt has the teeth but lacks the gravitas and texture.

    Steve Buscemi would deliver an oscar-worthy performance, but is he really a leading man?

  7. I’ve always loved Bruce R. McConkie’s comment, from one of his last speeches (a BYU symposium on the Joseph Smith Translation). In the speech, he went through the entire Bible, briefly touching on each book. When he reached Job, he said (and you need to do the deep McConkie intonation here):

    “Job…(long pause)…is for people who like Job.”

  8. #5 Dan,
    Some would suggest that satan is merely performing his own role/calling, and that in the end, we’ll find out he was working for deity all along, to make sure we had the necessary opposition.

  9. Job is a wonderful book, Nick! Besides, the role of Satan as the necessary agent of our being “tested and tried” jives well with Mormonism…sort of.

    But I wouldn’t try too hard to derive a meaningful Luciferian theology out of Job. It was written at a time when the Jews had not yet made Satan fully diabolical. In the Hebrew of Job he’s called “the Satan” implying a title rather than a specific individual.

    Job may have been written as a protest against the Deuteronomic philosophy that claimed good was rewarded with good. It’s a theodicy, and not a very good one, IMO.

    Bonus: the narrative preface and epilogue to Job (where this appears) may have been written separately from the speeches in the middle

  10. Man, where is TT when you need someone to crow about how something isnt historically accurate? For once, I would agree with him.

  11. #8

    Some would suggest that satan is merely performing his own role/calling, and that in the end, we’ll find out he was working for deity all along, to make sure we had the necessary opposition.

    If Republican voters can’t handle the idea that Jesus and Satan are brothers, Mitt had better be careful before he divulges the Mormon belief that they’re co-conspirators.

  12. #9 Ronan:
    Of course you’re implying, as I have long believed, that The Book of Job is a fable, rather than a factual history.

    Whoa–hold on there. I didn’t say it was “the LDS belief.” I said that some believed it. Most LDS I know would find such an idea deeply blasphemous.

  13. Moreover, the idea that God and Satan work together to tempt humans seems to extend Adam’s divinely approved eating of the forbidden fruit to all the cosmos. None of us are sinning, only transgressing as part of some larger plan. Satan is not bad and neither are we.

    At that point we’re all playing a role in a play of the theater of the absurd. We’re all just waiting for Godot.

  14. I’ve always put Job in the same category as inspired historical fiction, such as The Work and the Glory series or Orson Scott Card’s Saints/Woman of Destiny.

    On the other hand, it is interesting to see a story about Satan’s power being ineffective in destroying the faith of a faithful man, despite all the tragedies.

    I know some out there will say, “Well Jesus referred to Job”. Pres. Monsen talks about Jean ValJean all the time. No blow to my faith. :)

  15. Nick,

    I had also read/heard Ronan’s theory of the narrative preface of the story being editorialized later after the actual story of Job happened.

    Also, re: BRM, was that the same speech where he called the Song of Solomon “biblical trash”? You gotta love it.


  16. Where’s the fire? Everybody here agrees that it’s not to be understood as an actual event.

  17. How about this to add flames to the fire: “though skinworms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God”. This famous quote is from Job. What to do?

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    Some trivia on this passage:

    1. Sons of God could be literal, as in the Canaanite pantheon, where El had 70 sons who became lesser deities of the pantheon, or a genitive of class or type (a common Hebraic construction), meaning something like “those who were like God.” Modern non-LDS would understand the angels here; LDS view angels as pre- or post-mortal spirits, so many would take the Sons of God in this passage as premortal spirits of people.

    2. Satan roving about to and fro suggests the sense of investigation; he was the divine prosecuting attorney, and he was investigating the affairs of people.

    3. In the expression “hast thou considered my servant Job,” “considered” renders a Hebrew expression that lit. means “to place your heart” on someone. (The question is obviously rhetorical.)

    4. The word “perfect” renders Hebrew tam, which doesn’t mean absolute absence of error in a Greek sense but whole in a moral sense. The thummim in urim and thummim is the plural form of this word (“lights and perfections”).

    5. The word “upright” renders Hebrew yashar. This is the word underlying The Book of Jasher, which means “the book of the upright,” where upright may be understood either singly or collectively.

  19. I think the sons of God are angels here in Job’s context. Would this be an LDS interpretation?

    And secondly, why did Joseph Smith re-translate Genesis 6:2 as sons of men rather than sons of God?
    And make it seem later that they were wickedly claiming to be sons of God.

    Until yesterday, I didn’t realize the JST revision on this high profile Hebrew expression that is given much exposure in the corridor for the council of the gods.

  20. Mark,
    The fire’s in that archived podcast. It’s Steve Evans interviewing Adam Greenwood (and, no, that’s not a lie just to get people to listen to it).

    I haven’t laughed that hard in quite a while.

  21. Kevin Barney says:

    This prior post talks a little bit about the evolution of Satan.

  22. Steve Evans says:

    There’s fire all over, Marky! How about this: Satan establishes a very good point, that only the blessed fear God.

  23. #18 – thanks

  24. I always take the OT with a grain of salt. I totally take Job with a grain of salt like BRM. This AM I was teaching seminary and the topic was from the book of Judges. In order to get a lesson out of Judges you have to take selected scriptures (the good stuff) and create a lesson out of them. The stories themselves from the text are awful. You think the Nephi killing Laban story is bad…..

  25. Kevin Barney says:

    MattG #17, the text of Job 19:26 is very difficult, and would be worth a post of its own.

  26. #15:
    Also, re: BRM, was that the same speech where he called the Song of Solomon “biblical trash”?

    That’s the one! I think those are the only books he maligned.

  27. #25, I’ll bite, what is the difficulty with Job 19:26?

  28. Steve Evans says:

    CW, that is secret knowledge.

  29. secret knowledge? Secret from who?

  30. Latter-day Guy says:

    Link to the aforementioned BRM speech here.

  31. Latter-day Guy says:
  32. Difficulties are outlined here.

  33. If Job weren’t real then it wouldn’t necessarily affect me greatly, but as has been alluded to by other posters, in D&C 121:10 the Lord compares Joseph’s suffering to that of Job and it would seem quite unfair for the Lord to compare JS with a fictional character. In any event I believe that the story itself is real. Whether or not the version that we have is exactly how it went down, I do not know.

  34. Nick, I agree that Satan is playing a specific role, but I think that it would be someone else if it weren’t him. Judas played a necessary role, he was even indirectly prophesied of, but that doesn’t excuse his behavior. Neither of them will receive forgiveness simply because they fulfilled a role/prophesy. They chose their respective paths themselves. Free agency is at the center of everything that we stand for and believe as LDS. No one compelled those individuals to do what they did and they will be judged accordingly.

  35. Erm, any chance of a simpler explanation for #32?

    Does it conflict with the “no man can see God and live” concept?

    Or are we just talking about a difficult translation?

    To me, the story of Job is a re-telling of the Abraham & Isaac story, albeit with more actual violence. “Sacrifice all that you love, for eternal glory.”

  36. CW, To me it’s the fact that if Job is fictional, we have to give up one of our favorite Messianic scriptures from the old Testament.

  37. Steve Evans says:

    MattG, agreed.

  38. Job may be a real person, but the story as presented has more in common with a literary work than a religious history or prophetic writings. I can’t remember exactly where off the top of my head, but there is an apparent gap in the narrative in the latter chapters, equivalent to a missing page (or scroll), in some scholars opinions.

    Hence, my reference to historical fiction.

  39. Thomas Parkin says:

    I compare myself to Hamlet ever-danged day. I don’t see that the fictional nature of Hamlet has much to do with anything. I learn a goodly sum of true stuff from Hamlet. And would it really be such a shock if a hypothetical prophet author embeded true prophecies within a such a fiction? Why not. The parables are fictions, too.

    Oh, woe is dog on me.


  40. My take on this (and I won’t be heart-broken if I’m wrong) is that Job was real, his suffering was real. The Satan/God fiddling with Job’s life (that’s just mean) is just an allegory.

    I agree with ArielW in 33. It seems unlikely that God would expect people to suffer with the faith of Job, a fictional character.

    Besides when things get rough it’s always comforting to think: it could always get worse, my plenteous livestock could be stolen, a house could fall on my kids, I could be covered with boils, etc.

  41. MattG, I accept that much of the telling of the story is symbolic. I believe the essence of the story is true. If not Job, than a thousand, nay, a million others have suffered for no apparent cause. Like The Unknown Soldier, he represents all of them.

    I also believe it is one of the easiest books to understand if we just look at the broad outline. However it is one of the most inscrutable books if we take a close look. At least to me.

    We (I) feel the strongest when we are visiting some jack mormon in the hospital who is dieing of lung cancer after spending his entire life smoking. We don’t say “I told you so”, but we (I) think it.

    On the other hand, we don’t know what to say to Job, or the modern version of Job, oh lets say, some 11 year old stake presidents daughter who is dieing, and suffering horribly in the process, from bone cancer, through no fault of her own.

    That is when we have no answer, but we look to Job for the answer. What does it tell us? That we suffer because God and Satan had a little after dinner conversation, that led to a bet? I don’t think so.

  42. Ah, but Jami, there are folks who I know first hand who have suffered just about as much as Job, and have remained faithful.

    I would hope that Job was a real person, that the book of Job we have is based roughly on his life, but the circumstances all point to literary embellishments. That all of the bad things happen to his family and his wealth all in the same day is highly coincidental, the story of Satan wandering into God’s living room and chatting, finally be “allowed” to physically inflict Job himself, are all elements of a good story.

    The structure of the rest of the narrative, with each of his friends and his wife reflecting different viewpoints, allowing the author to explore various ideas and philosophies, are also literary devices. Galileo’s most heretical writings were done in this exact same style, dialogs between fictional characters, trying out various “hypotheses” but based on Galileo’s real life work and experiences.

    Job may be real, but this story has the hand of a creative mortal author all over it.

  43. #33, #40: I don’t see anything wrong with referring to a fictional character like this. Are the unnamed people in Jesus’ parables “real”? Aren’t we asked to be like the Good Samaritan? How is that different?

    #34: Oh, so much logic fun in that argument. =)

    Will Peter be judged for denying he knew Christ 3 times, despite it being prophesied that he would do so? The prophecy having been made (by Jesus no less), did Peter have the agency to choose not to? If he could choose not to, (and did) wouldn’t that make Jesus a false prophet? Sure, you could argue that his agency was not taken away in that he would have chosen the way he did anyway, but once he is told the prophecy, where is his agency then?

    (Sorry, please go back to the discussion of whether Job is real or not. Put away the banning stick.)

  44. #33 Ariel,

    There are similar problems with the verity of the Jonah story, but the Savior referred to it several times in his ministry as an allegory for His own death and resurrection. I think He doesn’t have a problem using allegorical stories to illustrate his point, so I wouldn’t have a problem with Him referring to Job w/regard to Joseph in order to make his point. Besides, at the end of that discourse in D&C 121, He hammered the point home with the topper: “The Son of Man hath descended below them all, art thou greater than he?” We know at least that part is true.

  45. Kevinf–I know a lot of faithful sufferers too. But I haven’t yet met anyone who had Job’s exact set of trials. I can also comfort myself with the fact that I have been spared a huge variety of non-Job ills when life becomes rather intense, a kind of convoluted count your blessings activity.

    I also think that there is a lot of the fish story genre in the entire book. And personally, being a bit of a whiner myself, I have a hard time believing that Job didn’t say “Ow. No really, oww!”

    (But then I have my heretical doubts about Nephi’s complaint-free status as well. Who wrote record? Who looks faultless?)

  46. Eric Russell says:

    MattG re:36. Why do we have to give up the scripture? Can there not be inspired fiction?

  47. Eric,

    I guess I could accept that as well. Is there any opinions on who else may have written it, if not Job? Perhaps one of the OT prophets wrote it as an allegory, and injected the Messianic prophecy as a sort of soliloquy? Just some ideas.

    FWIW, I personally believe that the beginning dialogue with God and Satan was added separately, but that perhaps Job’s sufferings and writings perhaps really did happen. But I also recognize that there’s problems with picking and choosing what scriptures I want to believe.

  48. Good point, Jami. If Laman had written the record, it no doubt would have started something like this:

    “I, Laman, having been abused by religiously, fanatic parents, and suffering much from an obnoxious and overbearing little brother, did lose my inheritance and my birthright…..”

    Sam certainly would have written the account differently as well.

  49. Latter-day Guy says:

    Have you never read the Book of Lemuel, inscribed on tin plates? You can get it in BYU special collections. It’s brilliant. My favorite entry is:

    Dear diary, I’m Lemuel and I’m retarded!… Dang it! Laman must’ve gotten a hold of my plates again. I wish there was a jeweler out here so I could get this erased.”

  50. LDG, actually, I never have. Sounds interesting.

  51. “Job” is real enough — righteous people suffer horribly every day. He’s at least as real as the Good Samaritan.

  52. Steve Evans says:

    My mistake — today’s firestorm is actually over here.

  53. 52: That’s a joke, right?

  54. re:52 Oh, Steve! Thanks for the heads up! A winner all around!

  55. Steve Evans says:

    Holy crap Kyle, read the comments. Take comment 88 or 91-92 there as an example.

  56. Oh, man. That’s funny stuff.

  57. Wow. I liked the comment about smoking the natural hemp iguana for stressed out nursery leaders!

  58. To ArielW 7 hours ago

    If I deserved it, I wouldn’t have any problem with someone comparing me to the good Samaritan.

  59. A lady in our ward logged about Job recently. My favorite excerpt:

    “No, Job did not endure his immense trials without complaint. Personally, I love that he complained. Sometimes trials are hard, really hard, and pretending that everything is o.k. when it’s not, does little to actually make things o.k.. Job actually did a LOT of complaining, or rather, speaking from the pain of his soul. There was no sing-song, “Oh, that’s O.K.” attitude. But there was a deep and abiding testimony that he and all he had (and had lost) was in the care of the Lord.

    Yep. I love Job. He keeps things real.”

    As to the actual post, I am of the “not sure and don’t care if Job was an actual person or the hero of a parable, since there are some really cool lessons embedded in the story” crowd.

  60. And the role of Satan will be played by Jim Fields from Hackinsack New Jersey.

  61. let you stew on that one… total non-sequitor

  62. #58 Mark B. – I think that there is a big difference in congratulating someone for emulating a good character versus the Lord reminding you that you haven’t passed through as many trials as Job yet, so buck up. It won’t hurt me if Job isn’t a real person. The Lord certainly has used false notions (Oriental style – mustard seed being smallest) or people (good Samaritan) to illustrate a point, so that isn’t a stretch. I just get the feeling Job is real. Call it a gut.

  63. #43, FHL –

    Will Peter be judged for denying he knew Christ 3 times, despite it being prophesied that he would do so? The prophecy having been made (by Jesus no less), did Peter have the agency to choose not to?

    Prophesy works according to the foreknowledge of God. Jesus (or any other prophet in his place inspired by the Holy Ghost) predicted an event that would come about that had already been seen by God (so to speak). This is no different than Abinidi or Isaiah speaking about the Messiah’s coming. God knew that Christ was coming so he let people know. Same thing, different scope.

    Peter was in full control of his agency and he chose a path by himself that lead to him denying association/knowledge of the Christ. Peter made the choice, he wasn’t forced into it. Foreknowledge of an event is nothing more than knowledge, it’s not a compelling argument to state that everything is predestined. I like to think of it as God knows us so well, that with his omniscient power he knows exactly what we’re going to do. Him knowing our actions doesn’t make us do them. We take care of that all on our own. So yes, if Peter doesn’t repent, he gets judged for denying Christ. The scriptures go on to say that he wept bitterly, so my guess is that he’s okay.

    God doesn’t do anything in vain, and he is omniscient, so he’s not going to make a mistake. So, Christ isn’t going to be a false prophet. If Peter would have stood up to the questioning, then Christ wouldn’t have told him he would deny him. Call it circular logic if you will, but that’s my line and I’m sticking to it.

  64. this was my first exposure to zeitcast. I can only say it really made it apparant that we are all a bunch of dorks.

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