How could Satan re-enter heaven to talk to God about Job in Job 1:6–12?


Full Question

How could Satan re-enter heaven to talk to God about Job in Job 1:6–12?

Answer

Since we know that nothing unclean enters heaven (Rev. 21:27), and since we also know that Satan cannot re-enter heaven (CCC 391–393), those are clues that this passage should not be read as literal history. The passage is more likely to be a story created by the sacred author based upon the theological truth that God allows the devil to tempt human beings. The sacred author could have said, "God allowed Satan to tempt Job to the limits of his endurance," but the passage becomes more interesting and compelling when cast as a debate between God and Satan over the fate of God’s faithful servant, Job.

The Bible is a collection of books that use a variety of literary forms to convey theological truth. The Second Vatican Council’s document on divine revelation states:

To search out the intention of the sacred writers, attention should be given, among other things, to "literary forms." For truth is set forth and expressed differently in texts that are variously historical, prophetic, poetic, or of other forms of discourse. The interpreter must investigate what meaning the sacred writer intended to express and actually expressed in particular circumstances by using contemporary literary forms in accordance with the situation of his own time and culture (Dei Verbum 12).


Michelle Arnold