In terms of cunning, this story is unparalleled in literature. We know from a number of texts that the devil makes perfidious pacts – but one with God? The Creator lets himself into it, as if it were a jolly game, that Satan is allowed to pest Job down to the blood. The only condition: the devil must not lend a hand to Job himself.
For Job, that can be read in the Old Testament, nothing is gained by this. After all, what is your life worth when you have to watch how everything around you is being slaughtered and destroyed? That must be driving you crazy. And when one then lives honestly, like Job, one can only understand the great suffering that is inflicted on one from the highest authority as a mockery. As a campaign of destruction out of sheer malice.
At least that is the reading of this story in Christoph Korn’s radio play Job’s silence. The good, originally God-fearing man is spoken here by a woman, Caroline Junghans. In the biblical original, which is quoted here in Luther’s translation, Job withstands the trials and the Almighty restores his happiness.
Not in this 37-minute monologue presented furiously by Junghans. After God and the fallen angel begin to rage, Job questions everything. If what happens to him is to be just – the loss of his possessions, the death of his loved ones – then, according to Job, everything is forfeited. “Be wiped out …” decreed Job, and then Junghans blared down a monstrous list: peace, death, spirit, consolation, justice, hope, soul, wisdom, time, friendship. None of this and much more would then still exist.
An answer? Job does not receive it, or only in the form of ever new torments and humiliations. “I scream, laugh, shout, plead, dream, cry”, said Job, “and yet I am not heard”. At some point, Caroline Junghans just screams and yells, but without saying anything. The protest no longer has any concrete content, can no longer be expressed by Job in words, it turns into a gurgle. Until Job is finally silent. For as long and as deeply as there is seldom silence on the radio. All trust in God is gone, Job broken. In the end, deprived of his humanity, he hums, withdrawn.
Job’s silence, SWR 2, 13.11.2021, 23.03.