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

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  249 ratings  ·  45 reviews
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
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Published October 2nd 2012 by Random House Audio
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I read Rabbi Kushner's big bestseller thirty years ago, and I remember being a little disappointed. It is usually described as theodicy, a description which Kushner rejects: he says that would be Why Bad Things Happen to Good People. He was much more interested in trying to encourage and justify the most humane reactions to bad events, rather than trying to explain away how a good God could allow them to happen in the first place. I thought at the time his was an optimistic and encouraging view, ...more
Bob Pearson
This is a winter book or a book to read when time is a gift to savor. Go slowly, be patient, and think over every new thing that drops off the pages. Nothing creates a Wow moment, but all together the impact builds and builds. I never bend the tips of pages over in a book, and here I've done it fifty times. And each one is worth revisiting and rereading. Rabbi Kushner goes after the very question that every believer has to confront: why do bad things happen to a good person? Kushner goes further ...more
Frank Roberts
Five stars are not enough.

Inspiring, moving, and erudite. I don't want to summarize how the author interprets the Book of Job, as that would deny the reader the essential experience of encountering the text of Job for themselves. Suffice it to say that Kushner's interpretation and commentary are the most intellectually and emotionally satisfying responses that I have encountered in regards to this most challenging and vital of Biblical texts. The Book of Job is all about the problem of suffering
This is not a book I wanted to read. It was sent to me by my good book friend, Carolyn Formsma, as she watched me struggle with the teachings of Job. "Uurrrrgh!" I thought, "Heavy going, not at all my thing."

Except, as it turned out, it was. Rabbi Kushner pulled me in slowly. He has the creds to talk about personal tragedy, losing a son to bone cancer at an early age. He pulled me through Job, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, discussing the problems with translation, how the book actually tur
Kathy Nealen
Detailed guide to the Book of Job, as a follow up to his (much) earlier book, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People". Significant quotes: "...the book of Job celebrates God's awesome power but recognizes self-imposed limits on that power, to avoid compromising God's primary quality, His goodness." "I chose instead to make a world of challenge and response, a world in which humans would eat the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and have to make a hundred decisions every day as to w ...more
(Audio book edition) With a title like "Book of Job" I honestly was not expecting much. As a conservative Christian, to me the book of Job had always been boring and anti-climactic. Rabbi Kushner, however, revealed amazing insights into this book as well as the general question of "why do bad things happen to good people" (and yes, I know his original best seller was "when" not "why"). There was a point near the end of the book when I was just dumbfounded at what his thoughts were concerning Bet ...more
Beautifully written and thoroughly persuasive.

I struggle with a world with such arbitrary cruelty, where innocent people are so unjustly punished.

Kushner tries (and, to my mind right now, succeeds) to explain the impossible triad of: God is good; God is all powerful; and evil exists. He uses various and wonderful translations and different traditions.

I loved this book and am relieved to finally have the words to say it.

Em'as v'nihamti al afar v'efer.
I gave this book four stars not because I agree with Kushner's conclusions (I found much of his thoughts about God to be diametrically opposed to mine and Islamic theology in general) but rather because Kushner does a wonderful job of explaining how he believes in God even with the bad things that happen to us. I find that too often religious people don't like to probe this problem in a serious way. I also appreciated the various Jewish perspectives as well as exegesis of Job's story as it appea ...more
Crystal Gao
This book is great as bible study material. Kushner provided detailed cultural and chronical context to the book of Job, which is to me the most difficult book in Bible to reconcile with. I came with the question Kushner articulated well - do I have to choose btw whether God is all powerful, God is good or Job deserves the punishment. Kushner did not answer the question, he layes out a few possibilities and ask you to think for yourself. I haven't drewn conclusions yet, it is a very difficult qu ...more
Probably the most enlightening feature of the book was being exposed to some translation elements that reflect the Jewish view on questions of an all-powerful God. It might be worth picking up a copy of the 1980 translation used for Jewish readers - in English. of course. And Kushner expounds a view that the authorship of Job may be shared over quite some time, with a earlier fable portion comprising chapters 1, 2, and 42, and the longer middle, poetry chaps 3-41 coming later as a explanation of ...more
John Martindale
Kushner makes the case that the first two and the last chapter of Job is a shallow fable, and he has very little interest in it, but the complex and profound poem of Job which was later stuck in the middle, is where all the meat and potatoes is. He has a few interesting insights as he moves through some highlights in the poem, but the main contribution of the book is his interpretation of the climax of the poem, when God speaks through the whirlwind. He believes the chapter 40 and 41 contain a m ...more
Brian Whited
I come to this book as a conservative orthodox Christian. Rabbi Kushner is obviously not. I do appreciate several insights he provides from the Jewish perspective. Being that the book was written by a Jewish author, there are several gems Kushner offers that many other authors might miss. In particular, his discussion of Job's appeal to Jewish law, which in essence ushers God in during the final chapters of Job was interesting. Kushner also has several practical and wise applications for those w ...more
Harold Kushner is well-known for his bestseller “When Bad Things Happen To Good People” and in this book he takes the foundation of knowledge and experience from that novel (and life since then) and applies it to a scholarly review of the Book of Job. Kushner evaluates the book as two parts one part being the fable of Job and the second as the poem. His insight and the insights of others that he included in this book make it a wonderful insight into human suffering and a read along for a study o ...more
Rebecca Sizemore
A roller coaster of like and dislike. He draws a lot from Freud, apparently not realizing that's been primarily discredited. However, the thought and research that went into this is evident. I would have appreciated in some places a breakdown from the original text rather than only of various translations. In the end, a relaxing mind exercise of the nature of God and His interaction with the world.
Sherry Fyman
Rabbi Kushner walks the reader through a text that is as difficult from the poetry/literary structure point of view as it is from the theology point of view. He has read, studied and taught the Book of Job for many years so he brings a deep knowledge to his explanations. He comments frequently on the language and translation issues involved with making Job accessible to a modern, English-speaking audience. My favorite part of the book was the last section -- a brief summary of how a handful of t ...more
Much better than "Why do bad things happen to good people" IMO. Begins by outlining an interesting documentary theory that the middle poem is a later addition over the fable of the first and last chapters which I haven't run across before. Kushner's analysis of the Leviathan section of God's response is illuminating for me, getting to the heart of the argument. I won't summarize that argument here, as he does it much better than I could. But I am persuaded. The God and answer to suffering he pre ...more
Dottie Resnick
Insightful book into the life of Job and brings some clarification and understanding to the age old question of "If there is a G-d, why does G-d allow bad things to happen to people?"
Peter Story
The guy appears to be trying to show off his knowledge, and takes an incredible amount of time to get to the point promised on the cover.
Melinda Flaugher
I thought it was funny in the book that brilliant people that are beautiful usually have more children compared to people that do not have special attributes. lol. It seems in today's times the smarter the person is the less children they are having unless they are celebrity or someone like Bill Gates.

The rest of the book did have some points of interest. The book actually made me think why do good or bad things happen to people. Is it part of a higher purpose or are we creating a better world
Corinne Castro
Thought would be better but made some good points about the Bible & taking responsibility, not blaming God
It helps to have read the story of Job itself before reading this book though Kushner helps lay out the basic story and the characters who try to help Job in his understanding of the events that befell him. I very much liked how he discusses how some passages should be translated differently than the standard text(either KIng James or JPS) and how he reasons for and against various interpretations. At the end I found his explanations somewhat uplifting that even in the face of great tragedy what ...more
Three chapters in, and as always, I am learning a lot from Rabbi Kushner

Okay, so now I'm done. And I had to sit quietly for a few minutes to absorb the power, especially of the final act of the book, in which, after giving us some of the "answers" others have presented (Maimonides, Spinoza, Buber, Heschel, etc) to the book, Rabbi Kushner presents his own answer. Wow.

Thank you once again, Rabbi Kushner for bringing teaching, insight, relevance and meaning to a text from our tradition, and more i
I've always found the Book of Job to be somewhat quizzical. God makes a bet with Satan wreaking havoc on poor Job? Thankfully Rabbi Kushner does a great job transforming this story into a beautiful understanding that's developed about this book over the centuries. Particularly key is the thought that Job consists of two stories: Chapters 1, 2, and 42 are from an older fable, while chapters 3 through 41 is somewhat related to the fable, but is actually a debate about the nature of God.
I particula
Wow - this is an amazing walk through the Book of Job, explaining the poem verse by verse, discussing, questioning, and ultimately, comforting.
This book is a great all around introduction to the message of the book of Job, especially the last chapter of the book, where Kushner goes through various answers to the problem of suffering that commentators have based on the book of Job over the centuries. Its a great read, check it out most definitely.
So much more satisfying than When Bad Things Happen to Good People. (I'm not exactly criticizing that work, because it takes a special kind of theologian with a special way of seeing the world to even attempt to tackle such a topic, and it's a topic that has troubled us for centuries).
Nonetheless, this work is meatier, more intellectual, and much more nuanced than Kushner's earlier book of similar title. I absolutely recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in Job.
Vic Thom
The Old Testament book of Job is a tough read. Things are going well for Mr. Job and then one day disaster strikes. His friends arrive to console and comfort him, but then the back and forth dialog begins and it is slow going. I had the pleasure of hearing Harold Kushner lecture on his book and it was helpful.

We humans do go through hard times. Things do not always go well for us. Trust in God and His amazing grace!
Angela Farrell
After losing my mother to cancer, I wanted to see if this book could help put some things into perspective. And it did. It really did. It gave me new ways to think to help me process my loss. I thought it might try to explain WHY bad things happen to good people, but it doesn't. And I'm not disappointed. Because it taught me that what happens WHEN bad things happen to good people is more important than knowing why it happens.
Adam Cohen
Definitely an interesting take on a well known, but little understood story. Gave me a good bit to ponder about the essence of divinity.
This book was very interesting for my situation. I found myself looking more into my Bible and highlighting points. However, as the book wend on, I began to feel lost. I personally felt more lost at the end of the text and needed clarification from some other spiritual works. Again, VERY interesting, just did not quite hit the mark for me.
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Trinity Episcopal...: The Book of Job 1 1 Aug 15, 2013 09:33AM  
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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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