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ten, as Eliphaz had done in the beginning, but with a good grace, manifesting reverence for age, and respect for suffering, but still more respect for what he deems true and right. The "higher criticism," as Davidson says, cannot maintain its gravity over these peculiarities, and discharges at them a great amount of bad language.” "His speeches," it says, filled with gemachtes Pathos, and erfolglos Forcirtes," with other charges of a similar kind. Now, nothing is less reliable, or more uncertain, than this kind of jaunty remark in respect to an ancient composition. It is a pretentiousness worse than any that can be imputed to Elihu, which would pretend to judge thus of words, and style, and the genuineness of certain kinds of phraseology, in a literature affording such scanty means of comparison. Besides, it is very easy to imagine some critical theory of the Rationalists in which these very peculiarities, or similar ones, would probably be cited as all-important. Striking Arabian circumlocutions, they might be called, such as marked the old seances, and were regarded as a literary excellence, or marked Kohelethisms, or any thing else that might be thought to have a critical interest, or a bearing upon the question of some supposed place or time of authorship.
If Elihu is the last speaker, then the words, "who is this that darkens counsel," &c., might be regarded as spoken of him incidentally, or as first disposing of what had just preceded, although the address, generally, is to Job. There might be assigned reasons for this, consistent with the favorable view we have taken of him. The confusion of speech, before alluded to as occasioned by the appalling approach of the storm, and which, he himself confesses, would furnish a ground for it. These opening words resemble very much his own language, as though echoed back to him from the thunder-cloud: "Is it told Him that I am speaking? ( tense of description) we cannot order our speech in the presence of (?), or by reason of the darkness." Or, again, it might be called a "darkening of counsel," not in respect to its abstract truth, but when presented as a solution of the great problem, to the exclusion of other grounds in the proceedings of Him who, according to Elihu himself, "giveth no account of His ways."
THE BOOK NOT A SOLUTION OF THE PROBLEM OF EVIL.
One might be led to think, at first view, that the great matter worthy of such a sublime Book as this, would be the solution of the problem of evil—how sin came into the world, and man is held accountable. It is the question of the ages, to the settling of which not even the Critical Philosophy makes an approach. There is, however, no allusion to it in the divine allocution, except as comprehended in that awful declaration of power and sovereignty, seeming to say, as the voice said to Moses: "I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious— forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin-visiting iniquities unto the third and fourth generation, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments." Beyond this, no solution is offered, and Merx is right in saying, however irreverent it may seem, that if any clearing up of this dark problem had been the design of the Book, it must certainly be regarded as a failure;—that question stands just as it did before.
The Divine Address, and the modern Natural Theology. No argument from Design. It has been said that this speech of Jehovah contains an implied argument similar in substance to the one offered by our modern Natural Theology. So MERX, Das Gedicht von Hiob, pa. xxx.: "It is to exhibit the theology of nature, and that the rational aims visible therein furnish proof that God has like rational aims in all His government, moral as well as physical." With this he connects what Job says about Wisdom,* ch. xxviii., etc., as a preparatory or transition step in the Lösung or Solution of the Problem. The argument may be thus stated: The divine speech is an exhibition of God's wisdom in nature; therefore must we re
* It is in respect to this that Job is assigned, by many commentators, to what they call the Chokma portion of the Bible, making it coeval with the Proverbs, or the time of Solomon, a little earlier or a little later. Delitzsch supposes the Wisdom of the Proverbs to be an advance development, and therefore later. Merx, on the other hand, regards the author of Job as "polemizing " against the Proverbs writer. But why not the other way, if there is a difference, the author of Prov. viii. "polemizing" against the older author of Job?
gard it as intended to show that He must be equally wise in His spiritual government. But that would not be a solution. It would be simply an assertion, on a grander scale, of what is assumed by all the speakers throughout the Book, all of whom seem to vie with each other in lauding the divine wisdom. Job especially dwells upon its greatness and unsearchableness (xxviii. 20, &c.), leaving to man, as his peculiar and highest wisdom, the duty of reverencing it (ver. 28), acknowledging it, and "departing from evil." Architectural excellence is, indeed, a pervading idea of this divine address; but that power, almighty power, is the predominant one, is shown not only in the general style of its thunder tones, but also in its effect on Job, whose first words in reply are: "I know that Thou canst do all things," as before cited: Now I know it, whatever misgiving thought of some fatality I may have betrayed in former words now wholly renounced. It does not tell us in general that God acts solely from moral reasons; there is something in the language that gives the idea of artistic purposes regarded as having a value in themselves, aside from any moral or utilitarian considerations. He may make worlds, and lesser works, such as some of the great animals, for the glory and beauty of them, irrespective of any benefit* to man, or to other rational beings.
The Divine Ways Transcending and Ineffable. Eph. iii. 10; John ix. 3.
There may be æsthetic reasons. And then, again, there may be others altogether ineffable, whose explanations man could not receive if God, or super-human beings, should offer them. What right have we to apply the measure of our Ethics, or our Psychology, or our Ontology, to Him "whose ways are above our ways, and whose thinking is above our thinking, even as the heavens are high above the earth," that is, immeasurably and inconceivably beyond us? Sober Scripture sanctions such a representation. As before intimated, the designs of God, in His dealings with men, may be connected with effects to be produced in higher spheres (Eph. iii. 10, before cited); and so what He does, or permits to be done, to individuals may have relations, wise and just, extending far beyond them, whether in the present world or in any other. We are safe here in simply receiving the teaching of our Saviour (John ix. 2) when "the disciples asked him: Rabbi, who sinned, this man himself, or his parents, that he was born blind?" It was for the sin of neither, is the answer, "but that the works of God might be made manifest in him." Here is no throwing it upon nature, as the Rationalist would have done, but a positive assertion of a Divine purpose, and yet that that purpose had respect to something altogether separate from any punishment, discipline, or general wellbeing of the individual sufferer. "Who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say unto him who formed it, Why hast thou made me thus ?" Such is the idea that is brought to us by this voice from the thunder-cloud. It is that of a personal omnipotence unchallengeable, doing all things wisely, all things well, yet giving no account (x, answering not) to any who demand the reason of its ways. It is the first great truth for man to learn the predominant truth to take rank before all others—the fundamental truth, not for the infancy of the world merely, but most especially needed in this age of naturalism, of scientific boasting, of godless spiritualism.
THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THE NARRATIVE.
Is Job a truthful narrative, a legend with a dim nucleus of fact, or a pure fiction? In answer to the first of these questions, some would deem it sufficient to say, that the book is a poem on its very face. But this does not settle the matter. It may be so called unquestionably; and yet it may well be doubted whether, at the date of its authorship, even assigning it to the Solomonic period, there was that clear line of distinction between prose and poetry that afterwards existed. All high and animating thought has a tendency to measured language, to some kind of formal emphasis or repetition called parallelism, and which, in the Shemitic tongues, at least, is the beginning of rhythmical movement. It seems to be a demand of strong emotion, or of some strong interest in the thought expressed, whether devotional,
The modern Natural Theology has very little like it in the Bible. It may be said, too, in general, to be out of the line of the ancient thinking, Pythagorean and Platonic, as well as Shemitic. Ideas, divine thoughts, as having in themselves an artistic or intellectual excellence, in a word, the glory of God, take precedence of mere utilitarian final causes.
prophetic, or sententious. There is reason, too, for thinking that the more animated colloquial style among the Hebrews and other Shemitic peoples had much of this parallelism or germinal poetry; as in the language of Abigail to David, 1 Sam. xxv. 28, 29, or in the pleadings of the widow of Tekoah, 2 Sam. xiv. 13, 15, and other places that might be cited, where just in proportion as the thought or feeling rises in earnestness, do the words also seem to rise into a species of parallelism, and take on more and more of a rhythmical aspect. Thus viewed, the style of the speeches in Job may be held to be the natural one for the expression of such thoughts, requiring neither study nor artifice. That was the way men talked when deeply earnest, or under the influence of strong emotion, or when the gravity of the ideas discussed seemed to demand something corresponding to it in the style of utterance, some measured cadence, be it of the simplest kind, that might mark them as grave and emphatic. The exact prose style, on the other hand, may have been, in fact, the more artificial, as carefully avoiding this kind of sententious, emotional utterance, so ill adapted to statistical narrative, though suiting well the thoughtful soliloquy, or some forms of animated colloquialism. There is, therefore, really nothing unnatural, nothing artificial-rather the reverse-in the fact that these speeches in Job have this easy rhythmical cadence, which the reader, if he have taste and feeling, must acknowledge to be in perfect harmony with the gravity of the subjects discussed. Far removed as we are from this Oriental style, we should have been a little surprised, nevertheless, had the lamentations of Job, and the responses of his friends, been carried on in the same kind of talk we have in the prologue and other narrative Scripture.*
* Instead of a sense of artificialness, it is truly with something like a feeling of ease and freedom that we emerge from the curt, statistical dialect into these more spontaneous utterances, in whatever parts of the Bible they may occur. As when Moses, as though weary of his lawgiving, breaks out into song:
Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak;
Equally unconscious of anything artificial was Isaiah when he opens his prophecy with similar language, or predicts that men
Shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
Or the sententious Solomon thus falling into measure in the utterance of his prudential wisdom:
My son, hear the instructions of thy father,
And forsake not the law of thy mother.
It is found everywhere in Scripture, and in the mouths of all classes, whatever may be their variety of character:
Lord, when Thou wentest out of Zion,
When thou marched'st out of the field of Edom.
So in Luke, Elizabeth, and Mary, and Simeon, break out spontaneously in this same rapt measured language; and in like manner does John in the Revelation rise into poetry, if we choose to give it that name. It is, however, nothing essentially different from what we have in the Psalms and Job, and even in Ecclesiastes. Those who made such utterances did not think they were speaking or writing poetry as a studied or artificial language. The state of soul, as caused by the moving circumstances, made it spontaneous; usage made it easy; it was a natural speaking-not an improvising as some might be inclined to call it; for that implies something like knack or skill, however acquired, and has, besides, but little of value or significance beyond the mere surprise it occasions. It need only be said, that we have something of an echo of this old style in the Koranic rhymes and cadences, though there the artifice is clearly visible.
The Book of Job a Drama, and yet subjectively true.
The two ideas are perfectly consistent. It may have the dramatic form, the dramatic interest, the dramatic emotion, the dramatic teaching, and yet be substantially a truthful narrative. Making allowance for what are merely matters of language, such as the use of round and double numbers to express things that are beyond statistical estimate, we may believe in the general outward verity, whilst regarding this mode of stating the vastness of Job's possessions, and the suddenness of his calamities, as itself evidence of a subjective truthfulness. It testifies to the deep impression left by the story as explicable only on some basis of actuality consistent with emotional hyperbole, but repelling the thought of artistic skill or frigid invention. It is this subjective truthfulness which is all that is required for a true faith in the divinity of the Holy Scriptures. It includes every thing else of value, and, once firmly held throughout, brings with it the idea of the outward supernatural as not easily separable from such a book, and such a history, lying, as it does, in the midst of such cotemporary human surroundings. We are compelled to take with it a corresponding measure of objective truth, regarded as separate from the necessarily emotional language, or as far as may be demanded for the moral and spiritual impression. In this way, what we have called subjective truthfulness may be very easily defined. It is the perfect honesty of the writer or writers whom God has chosen as the recorders of the great objective events which constitute the revelation He has made to the world. We are only to suppose that they heartily believed the truth of what they wrote, according to its evident intent as historical, dramatic, or allegorical, to be judged of according to the clear marks left upon its style. When we thus believe in the perfect honesty of the writers, we shall find ourselves, if truthful and candid, compelled to believe in a great deal more. Applying this to the Book of Job, we can thus hold that the writer, whoever he may have been, and in whatever age he may have lived, truly believed the substantial historical verity of what his pen has transmitted to us. This subjective truthfulness is unaffected by the steps or media through which such a belief may have come to him. It may have been in one of three ways: the writer may have been an eye-witness; or he may have received it from near cotemporary testimony, in which he fully trusts; or it may have reached him through a tradition, of whose substantial truthfulness he has no doubt. There has thus come to him the substance of the story: a rich and prosperous man suddenly reduced to the extreme of poverty, bereavement, and pain; his sore trial, the treatment of his friends, the prolonged discussions between them, the alleged divine interposition, and the sufferer's restoration to a state of still greater prosperity. Along with this is the idea of a super-earthly nexus of events, originating the providential means by which the trial is brought about, and furnishing a reason for the strange suffering. This revelation of events belonging to the superhuman sphere, and the modes by which they may be supposed to become known to the human mind, whether as pictorial accommodations, or in any other way, present a question standing by itself. The ground of faith in them, is the same as that of other Scriptural narratives which carry us above the plane of human knowledge. It is enough for one who believes in the Bible as truly a divine book, that they are spiritually and dramatically consistent with the earthly events of the story and the spiritual design to which they furnish the key. On the round numbers we have already remarked. They should disturb no one who is familiar with the style of the Bible. They are simply methods of expressing vastness without regard to statistical accuracy. It may be said, indeed, that the use of units, tens, and hundreds, in such narratives, would have furnished good ground of suspicion, or actually detracted from our perfect trust in this subjective truthfulness of the writer which we rationally regard as beyond every other excellence. The same may be said in respect to the rapid connection of the events. It is a picture giving us the most vivid impression of suddenness, or one trouble coming whilst another is fresh in its effect and remembrance, breaking the victim, as Job says, "with breach upon breach." Human experience confirms this as something not infrequent in the great trials of life, to whatever causation they may be referred. Such a story leads to hyperboles. They may almost be said to be its natural and therefore most truthful language. Their ab
sence would betray an unemotional state out of harmony with the deep interest of the events believed. They would characterize the style even of an animated eye-witness. Still more might they be expected in one who gives such an account its second transmission; and thus this language of emotion would become its fitting, or, as we might even call it, its truthful vehicle, getting a traditional form which is the strongest evidence of a once vivid actuality, easy to be distinguished from the wild myth, or the more fanciful legend. The same view may be taken of Job's restoration. In itself, it is not an improbable event. The round numbers here are doubled, but this, too, is matter of language. It is a mode of expressing the fact that the restored prosperity greatly exceeded that of the former state; as in sober descriptive Greek we may have διπλάσιος used as only another term for πολυπλάσιος, or the multifold. In judging of this truthfulness, it is enough if we can be satisfied of the absence of all invention, or of any thing that looks like literary artifice. There is abundant internal evidence, that the scenes and events recorded were real scenes and real events to the writer, whoever he may have been. He believed the story; he gives the discussions either as he heard them, or as they had been repeated, over and over, in many an ancient consessus. The very modes of transmission show the deep impression it had made, in all the East, as a most veritable as well as most marvellous event. It may be this, and yet as truly a drama, with its heroic action, whether outward or spiritual, and having as much right to the name as any others, so-called, which are inventions, either in whole or in part.
* It is, in fact, this very kind of language, indicating, as it does, the absence of invention, which shows the state of the writer's mind in relation to it, and his firm belief in the substantial truth of the story, whether derived from near witnesses, or from remoter tradition. As we have elsewhere remarked (Note to Lange Gen., p. 319), "there is something in this subjective truthfulness as denoted by wide and rounded statements, which is far more precious to a right faith, than any attempt at objective or scientific accuracy." "All the high hills under the whole heaven,” Gen. vii. 19, is evidently the language of a spectator deeply moved by the scene as he beholds it. How much more full of satisfaction is this to a right thinking, than any numerical or geographical settlement of the question about the extent of the flood. In the emotion evidently denoted by such words, there is carried the vivid impression of reality, and this is what we most need. So, too, Acts ii. 5: "And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews devout men out of every nation under heaven!" We cannot resist the feeling of some most real memorable assemblage, that gave rise to such an impassioned description. It is not at all the style of legend but of deep emotion. A still more remarkable proof of our seeming paradox, is the language of the loving and beloved disciple, John xxi. 23. What a vivid reality must there have been in that character which calls out the seemingly extravagant language: "Not even the world could contain the books that should be written." The comparison is to be taken, not as a measure of outward-fact, but as an expression of devotion, of admiration, of boundless love. In this sense it is no extravagance; the hyperbole wholly disappears. When John wrote that Gospel, the world of sense, with all its images, failed to set forth the excellence of Christ. "Heaven and earth were full of his glory." He must have lived, most objectively lived, who produced such an impression. Inwardly it was the most truthful of utterances. Let us suppose that the statement had been more guardedly made, and instead of the world it had been said: "Hardly a folio volume would have sufficed for the recital of what Jesus had done;" how would it have diminished that real power and truthfulness to which the strongest utterances were inadequate.
The same view may be taken of all parts of the Old Testament, where immense numbers, especially round numbers, are employed; as in the emotional statements of certain great battles with their countless slaughter. The case is different when statistical accuracy enters into the very essence of the account, as in the details of the Tabernacle and of the Levitical sacrifices.
A difficulty is made from the statement of Job's age at the close of the Book. It comes from adding the number there mentioned (140 years) to his supposed former life, which could hardly have been less than 50 or 60 years, thus making, in all, two hundred years or more. But there is no need of this; the most easy and unforced rendering would take this term, 140 years, as the entire length of his life. He lived till he became 140 years old. This is in harmony with his seeing his children to the fourth generation, or great grand-children, even though born after he was fifty years old. The words “after this," are not in conflict with such a view. It may very easily be rendered: "After this Job lived on, even to the age of 140 years." Such an age is not improbable, even for a later time than the patriarchal. There are examples of such longevity in quite modern times.
There are the best of reasons for calling Job a drama, if we do not take the word in too narrow a sense. It has all the essential parts of such a composition: its Prologue, its Dialogue, and its Crisis. It has, moreover, its great deλov, trial or prize. It is the very heart of the Book, possessing even an Epic grandeur of interest. The integrity of Job, the very soul of Job, we may say, is the matter of this test, the subject of this ȧyúv, or strife between God and Satan. To accommodate Homer's language, Iliad xxii. 160, to a far higher theme:
οὐχ ἱερήϊον, οὐδὲ βοείη, ἀλλὰ περὶ ΨΥΧΗΣ μάρνανται ἀθανάτοιο.
Even if its action were wholly spiritual, it would, none the less, be entitled to the name dramatic. It has, however, as much of outward movement as the Prometheus Vinctus of Eschylus, or the Philoctetes of Sophocles. In the latter, too, the dramatic interest is chiefly in the spiritual strife arising out of intense bodily pain.