The Most Tragic Figure in the Bible

Today is Good Friday. It is a solemn day. A reflective day. A day for contemplation. A day to  ponder.  

If I asked you who is the most tragic figure in the Bible, who would you say?

 Adam? Eve?  Moses? Saul? Elisha? Jeremiah?  Hosea?  

Job? Bathsheba? Tamar? John the Baptist? Peter? Judas?

So many to choose from.  Who would you choose?

Who do I think is the most tragic figure in the Bible?

God.

I heard Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman say this and I think he is right. God is the tragic figure in the Bible. Why?  Because as Rabbi Hartman explained, God never gets what God wants, and God never gets what God deserves. *

A sobering thought, but true. God never gets what God wants. God never gets what God deserves.  True in Biblical times, and true today.

But what does God want? What does God deserve?

“He (God) has told you, O Mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”   Micah 6.8 NRSV

What does God want? What does God deserve?

 One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he (Jesus) answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’  Mark 12:28-31 NRSV

Today is “Good Friday”. A solemn day. A reflective day. A day to think about justice, and kindness, and love and what that means in light of Good Friday. It is difficult to think about God as a tragic figure, God who never gets what God wants and never gets what God deserves. It is difficult but important.

To think about God as a tragic figure is not the only way we should think about God, but on Good Friday, somehow it seems appropriate.

I’d like to know, what do you think?

Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman speaking at the West Shore Committee for Jewish/Christian Dialogue Conference, Oct 2006.

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One Response to “The Most Tragic Figure in the Bible”

  1. Erwin Says:

    I think we don’t think of God as a tragic figure is because God knows that He will not get what He wants or what He deserves. He is God. That places the question back on the floor as to which “human” becames the most tragic figure in the Bible.

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