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In the latest issue of First Things , associate editor David Goldman offers a helpful comparison between Faust’s wager and Job’s suffering:

Critics often use the Bible to help explain literature, but, on rarer occasion, literature may help us to understand the Bible. Scores of studies examine the biblical influence on Goethe’s Faust , which—in the prologue, set in heaven—paraphrases the Book of Job. Job is a difficult book for modern readers; the idea of a divine wager at the expense of a virtuous man is disturbing, and the story is all the more opaque for its ancient setting. But just as we must know something of Job to read Faust, so Goethe aids our reading of Job. He reworks the tale in modern terms and helps us see in Job the challenge of understanding faith and the despair we suffer.

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