The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person

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Overview

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

From one of our most trusted spiritual advisers, a thoughtful, illuminating guide to that most fascinating of biblical texts, the book of Job, and what it can teach us about living in a troubled world.
 
The story of Job is one of unjust things happening to a good man. Yet after losing everything, Job—though confused, angry, and ...

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The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person

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Overview

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

From one of our most trusted spiritual advisers, a thoughtful, illuminating guide to that most fascinating of biblical texts, the book of Job, and what it can teach us about living in a troubled world.
 
The story of Job is one of unjust things happening to a good man. Yet after losing everything, Job—though confused, angry, and questioning God—refuses to reject his faith, although he challenges some central aspects of it. Rabbi Harold S. Kushner examines the questions raised by Job’s experience, questions that have challenged wisdom seekers and worshippers for centuries. What kind of God permits such bad things to happen to good people? Why does God test loyal followers? Can a truly good God be all-powerful?
 
Rooted in the text, the critical tradition that surrounds it, and the author’s own profoundly moral thinking, Kushner’s study gives us the book of Job as a touchstone for our time. Taking lessons from historical and personal tragedy, Kushner teaches us about what can and cannot be controlled, about the power of faith when all seems dark, and about our ability to find God.
 
Rigorous and insightful yet deeply affecting, The Book of Job is balm for a distressed age—and Rabbi Kushner’s most important book since When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

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  • The Book of Job
    The Book of Job  

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

The rabbi author of the bestseller When Bad Things Happen to Good People places that age-old dilemma within the context of the biblical story of Job.

Publishers Weekly
When selecting an author for this 21st book in the Jewish Encounters series, editor Jonathan Rosen had a clear choice. In 1981, Kushner, a rabbi, published the best-selling book When Bad Things Happen to Good People after his 14-year-old son died of progeria. Kushner forthrightly tackled the problem of reconciling the simultaneous existence of evil and an all-powerful God. This is the issue confronted in the Book of Job, often cited as the most difficult book in the Bible. Job is a righteous man, happily married with 10 children and wealth. He is severely tested when he loses everything and his children all die. He endures this ordeal, not comforted by his friends who try to console him. Finally, after confrontation with God, he recognizes his mortality and the necessity of trusting God. Kushner skillfully analyzes this complex story, surveying many sources along with offering his own impressive interpretation. Although he does not resolve the thorny dilemma of why blameless people suffer, he advances our understanding of this quandary. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
“A current, accessible examination of a difficult and wondrous jewel of world literature.”
-Kirkus
 
“Kushner skillfully analyzes this complex story, surveying many sources along with offering his own impressive interpretation.”
-Publishers Weekly

“Kushner’s analysis challenges popular understanding of a text written and rewritten by unknown authors perhaps separated by centuries…No one can explain why evil exists, let alone in 200 pages. Still, Kushner’s tragic loss lets him assail an insolvable problem with authority.”
-The Washington Post
 
“Harold Kushner first brought comfort and insight to many in 1981 with his best-selling self-help book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Since then, he’s continued to offer life- and faith-affirming messages…In Job’s anguish and anger toward God, Kushner finds lessons on how one might remain faithful to a God who does not protect us from suffering.”
-Vox Tablet (weekly podcast of Tablet Magazine)
 
“Kushner’s lifelong experience with and study of the central questions of Job make almost every page of his masterful reading stimulating and often provocative and will turn many readers to the text.”
-Jewish Book Council
 
“Harold S. Kushner…share[s] the gifts of scholarly foundations, challenges to conventional theology, and a style that enlightens and inspires the decidedly un-Biblical among his readers…Kushner does a wonderful job summing up what he takes away from the Job story (it is actually something of a spoiler to paraphrase it, so buy the book) and handily condenses thinking from some of the great Jewish thinkers.”
-The Seattle Times

Kirkus Reviews
"There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job." So begins one of the most vexing portions of the Hebrew Bible. Rabbi Kushner (Conquering Fear, 2009, etc.), who first considered the enigmatic text in the bestselling When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981), revisits the powerful story. Chapter by chapter, with homilies, asides, jokes and bits of his personal history, the author considers the familiar story of the good man, bereft of all that he values because of Satan's challenge to God. In reviewing the three cycles of the poem in which friends fail to console or comfort Job, great theological debates proliferate. How should an innocent victim conduct himself? Is there really divine punishment and reward? Is there justice in Godly governance? As the dispute with the Almighty escalates, meaning becomes less certain, more inscrutable. Even the identity of a speaker becomes uncertain. Some difficulties with the Book of Job stem simply from its distance from our time, the subject matter or the language. Many words are unique. (Feminists will note that Kushner consistently refers to the Creator with masculine pronouns). The author marshals brief commentary from such authorities as Maimonides, Spinoza, Heschel and MacLeish. Perhaps Kushner, a generation after his most famous book, follows mainstream rabbinic theosophy more than he once did. He offers the belief that, fixed by the Creator, there is free will for humanity; nature, too, follows its own laws fixed by God. Thus, there exists the possibility of change and goodness--and maybe that's why bad things happen. A current, accessible examination of a difficult and wondrous jewel of world literature.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805242928
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 397,049
  • Product dimensions: 5.42 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold S. Kushner is rabbi laureate of Temple Israel in the Boston suburb of Natick, Massachusetts. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he is the author of more than a dozen books on coping with life’s challenges, including, most recently, the best-selling Conquering Fear and Overcoming Life’s Disappointments.

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Read an Excerpt

“There is one place in the Bible where serious theological conversation about the nature and thought process of God does take place, prompted by the conflict between the human wish to see the world as a moral sphere where people get what they deserve, where everything happens for a reason, and the inescapable reality that ours is a world where good people suffer for no apparent reason. The book of Job is a full-length argument about whether the misfortunes that befall ostensibly good people come to them from the hand of God. If we want to believe that ours is a moral world, the scene of justice and fairness, we need to confront the arguments presented in what is probably the most challenging book in the entire Bible: the book of Job.”

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Customer Reviews

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