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Or it may be regarded as purely poetic, in fact as well as in form, with the exception, perhaps, of a few human elements, whether legendary or historical, that may have aided in inspiring the idea of its composition. By those who adopt this view, as is done by some of our most pious as well as learned commentators, it is, of course, held that the Prologue, and the Theophany at the close, belong to the dramatic scenery. As maintained, however, by men like Hengstenberg, Dillmann, and Delitzsch, this theory of poetic invention does not come from any such aversion to the very idea of the supernatural as characterizes the whole Rationalist school. It is not with them the mere shunning of difficulties, or for the sake of making the Book more credible and acceptable as a part of Holy Writ. They think that they discover in the Book itself, in its apparent plan and style, evidence of such dramatic intent. And this does not diminish its value. There is almost every style of writing in the Bible, historical, devotional, ethical, allegorical, and even mythical. God may employ this dramatic mode of representing truth as well as any other. It may be received as we receive the parables of our Saviour. There would be demanded, however, a method of exegesis dif. ferent from that which would be proper for such books as Genesis and Samuel. Another reason is that they regard this kind of didactic representation as belonging to what they call the Chokma period (the Wisdom or Philosophy period) of Hebrew literature, and, therefore, not to be judged by the same rules that would be applied to the older Scripture. This view of Job as being, in the main, a poetic invention, at least in its superhuman representations, may be regarded as the one now current in the Christian Church. The weight of critical argument may even seem to be in its favor; and yet it may not be amiss to consider what may be said for the older view, and whether there is such a difference, in this respect, between Job and other parts of the Bible.
The Rationalist is repelled by the supernatural everywhere. He has a most irrational, and yet an easily-explained, dislike to the very idea, in whatever part of the Scriptures he may meet with it. Viewing it then as a question wholly by itself, it may well be asked, why the superhuman accounts in Job may not be received just as we receive them in the narrations of Exodus, or of Luke's Gospel, or of the Acts of the Apostles. The question may refer to the supernatural simply when displayed upon earth as visible matter-of-fact, or to superhuman scenes narrated as transpiring in a superhuman sphere. In regard to the latter, it may be said, as we have before hinted, that the difficulties are by no means peculiar to the Book of Job. The question as to the mode of inspiration, or the way in which such superhuman or ante-historical facts become known to the writers, meets us in other parts of the Bible. The same mystery hangs over the first of Genesis. It suggests itself immediately in reading such accounts as that of 2d Chronicles xviii. 18–21, or the recitals of divine messages coming to the prophets. If, however, we are convinced, on general grounds, that the Bible is a divine book in the honest sense of the word, that is, given specially by God for our instruction in a way that other books are not, the minor difficulties vanish. If the Book of Job, or any other book, is truly inspired, and we receive it as such, then may it be trusted that God provides for all such communications, whether by trance vision, by symbolic imagery, or by filling some human mind with the general idea and the accompanying emotion, then leaving it to its own modes of conceiving, as controlled, more or less, by its measure of science, and clothed in its own necessarily imperfect human language. Thus may it be given to us in the Holy Canon as the representative of a superhuman fact, some knowledge of which is demanded as a fact ineffable, or incapable of communication in any other way. To deny the possibility of this is simply the bold irrationality of affirming that there can be no communication between the infinite and the finite mind, or of still more recklessly asserting that there are no superhuman scenes—that between man and God, if there be a God, there is an infinite blank, unoccupied by beings or events, and in which nothing can
We may say, too, on the ground of the same authorities, that its historical truth, be it more or less, does not at all stand in the way of its dramatic character. Some degree of such historical truth, real or supposed, is, in fact, demanded by it. All the Greek tragedies are so constructed on old narratives believed to be real; such as those of the Trojan and Argonautic ages. It needed something of the kind to inspire them; so that while a few, like thc Persæ of ÆSCHYLUS, are almost wholly historical, none are pure fictions.
take place that may, in any way, affect the course of the human history either collective or individual. Some such general view in regard to modes of revealing may be rationally adopted by one who regards the book of Job as true and inspired —that is, in some way given by God as other books are not. If uninspired, if a mere human production, then this Book of Job has for us simply an archaic interest, like the early Arabian songs, or some Carmen Moallakat written in golden letters, and suspended in the temple at Mecca. If no higher view can be taken of it than this, then, surely, the vast amount of comment bestowed upon it, by Rationalists as well as by believers, has been far beyond its deserts. The immense labor might have been better devoted to other and more useful purposes.
The Supernatural in Job not to be Rejected. A rejection of the book on the ground of its supernatural and superhuman origin is simply in accordance with the procedure of the Rationalists everywhere. They even think it too much for its poetry, unless regarded as fiction throughout, or without any nucleus of truth, however dim and legendary. Thus, in defiance of such passages as Isaiah vi. 1-4, Umbreit asserts that the Old Testament recognizes no theophanies after the times of Moses. In Job, therefore, it was a pure poetic fiction, hardly admissible unless the action and the scenery are dramatically assigned to the Patriarchal period. And so he asks with an expression of contempt for any one who might even imagine the contrary : “Wenn die ganze Sache Dichtung war, was war denn die Gotteserscheinung im Sturme? Wahrheit ?" It is not, however, the degree of outward splendor in the theophany, or the magnitude of the sense marvel, as we may call it, that makes the difficulty for this class of interpreters. The objection is to any idea of God in the world as a manifest causation, whether it be in “the whisper," or in "the thunder of his power” (Job xxvi. 14). They are haunted by the thought of their dislike to the miraculous in any sense, or of any divinely-caused deviation from the course that things would otherwise take, whether in nature or in history. And yet they must reject the most undeniable facts, or admit marvels greater, in truth, than any that may be styled physical miracles—strange deviations from the general course of things in the moral and spiritual human, that, to a thoughtful contemplation, are more inexplicable than any analogous departures or irregularities, seemingly, in nature. Such an anomalous spiritual phenomenon is the very position of this old book of Job, or this old “poem,” lying, as it does, in the literature of the ancient heathen world. Let the serious yet intelligent reader fix his mind upon the cotemporary theologies and mythologies. A little to the south-west lies Egypt, so lauded now for its ancient culture, and its alleged longeval supremacy in what is called civilization, or the peculiar condition of “the higher man,”—Egypt, so well known then as the land of crocodile and serpent worship, of the grossest animal superstition, of the most debasing, Godforgetting worldliness. Not far to the east, or just beyond the Indus, are the monstrous forms of Nature worship, as exhibited in the strangest combinations of mystic, pantheistic, and polytheistic ideas. To the Mediterranean west, yet still within the Shemitic knowledge, are the myriad fancies of the Greek mythology, with its Bacchanalian festivals, its worship not only destitute of moral power, but the cherisher everywhere of impure ideas—æsthetic, it is true, famed for its ideas of the beautiful in art, yet most unclean. Almost in contact with it lies the Dagon idolatry, or fish worship, of the Philistines and the Phænicians. To the north, on the Euphrates, the weird Chaldæan and Babylonian superstitions, as we learn from the dark phantoms of them that haunt us in reading the book of Daniel. Right below it, on the south, the Sabæan idolatry, or star worship, which had infected the primitive monotheism of the Shemitic Joktanites. There is no need of going farther in such a summary. Everywhere was there the rapid verifying of Paul's words (Rom. i. 21–28), setting forth the ways in which men destroy for themselves the pure knowledge of a personal God. Now think of this book of Job in the midst of such surroundings—the transparent purity of its religious ideas yielding in no respect to the loftiest of modern conceptions, the marvellously sublime representations it makes of the divine personality, omnipotence, infinity, unsearchableness, wisdom, grace and holiness—in a word, its distinguishing theism jealous even of the admiration of the heavenly bodies, the “sun in its splendor, the moon walking in brightness," lest it might seem to detract from the reverence due to Him “who setteth his glory above the Heavens." What restraining and conserving influence kept it so clean, so rational, so holy, in the very midst of such abounding impurities? If tendencies so universal and so constant may be called nature, then surely must there have been here the manifestation of a divine power. That One above the human sphere should sometimes speak to us, even though it might be in & voice from the cloud, is not a greater marvel for the reason, though it might be more astounding to the sense. For reason, too, has its marvels, and one of them—the greatest of them, perhaps—would be such an everlasting silence of the super-human worlds, or that to man-himself a supernatural as well as a rational being-no direct communication should ever come from a higher plane than that of nature. .
It is the moral sublime of the book of Job that makes the supernatural—if fair criticism should allow us to regard it as having such an element—all the more easy of belief. With such an accompaniment, it becomes all the more natural—if we may use the seeming paradox
-or the more to be looked for in the whole course of things including every movement, moral and spiritual as well as physical. It seems fitting that there should be a theophany in such a drama; and this fittingness would be none the less if we regard the human elements as being, at the same time, an outward historical reality. And so we might say of the supernatural everywhere in the Bible, so different from the wild, grotesque, unmeaning, or monstrous supernatural that meets us in all those “other ancient mythologies” with which the Rationalist is so fond of classing the Hebrew Scriptures. In these other books, these “other mythologies,” there is nothing to give significance to the miraculous, whereas throughout our Holy Book, from the opening creative scenes to the apocalyptic closing, it is the great moral and spiritual, the great theological ideas, that make the supernatural events narrated seem its fitting and most reasonable accompaniment. It would be strange, on the other hand, that, in connection with such grand unearthly teaching, the appearance of a super-earthly power, the intervention of a super-earthly mind or voice, should be wholly lacking.
It is thus that we may hold in respect to this Book of Job. Is there internal evidence, as some of the best critics maintain, for regarding it as a divine poem, and the opening and closing events as the appropriate dramatic scenery ? Such a view is entirely consistent with a belief in its inspiration, and of its being designed to occupy a high place in the Divine Canon. Aside from such a theory, however, and such alleged internal evidence, or regarded simply in themselves, the supernatural events that appear to be set forth in this book may be received just as we receive similar narrations in other parts of the Bible. What is there in the voice from the storm cloud, or even in the prolonged utterances that follow it, more incredible than the voice from Sinai with its specific law-givings, the voice to Elijah in Horeb, the voices that, in some way, came to the Prophets, the voice from the burning bush, the voice that spake to Paul from the midday sky? Above all, what is there in it more strange or faith-surpassing than what is told us in respect to our Saviour's baptism, when the Heavens opened, and the Spirit descended like a dove, and a voice from the firmament was heard saying: “This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased ?” In all these cases the exceeding greatness of the moral sublime throws in the back-ground the physical strangeness. There is a harmony in it which not only favors, but demands assent. Granting the human elements of the story, just as they are narrated, in all their human and natural grandeur, the supernatural, whether voice or appearance, seems but its fitting complement. It is true, that to those who are eye-witnesses of the event, the miracle is the attestation of the doctrine; but for minds that read or contemplate it, the converse also holds: it is the glory of the truth that makes the miracle easy of belief
SPECIAL INTRODUCTION TO THE RHYTHMICAL VERSION.
Rhythm, or Metre, but
give the Bookersor as suggested by
The term Rhythmical is preferred to Metrical, because the latter name, though in itself appropriate, is also used of Biblical translations not strictly in Rhythm, or Metre, but only adopting the metrical division, év orixous, or as suggested by the Hebrew parallelism. The present is an attempt to give the Book of Job in a true rhythmical form. The determination of that form, however, requires careful study. There are, it is said, some old English Versions of Job in rhyme. That, however, was not to be thought of. Aside from the difficulty such a method would make in preserving the exegetical accuracy demanded, it was felt that to such a production as Job the jingle of rhyme would be altogether belittling. Our common blank verse line of five feet would present no great difficulty in itself. With a little change, even our Common English Version might be put into that form with a preservation of all such accuracy as it possesses. But there were two objections to it. The first is that such blank verse, though having more dignity than rhyme, would become too monotonous, as the reader would presently feel, and would, therefore, be poorly adapted to the exceedingly passionate and abrupt parts of this divine poem. In the second place, it would require a disregard of the Hebrew accentuation and parallelism as determining the close of lines, and demanding inequality. What we call blank verse is, in fact, only rhythmical, or, rather, measured, prose. The divisions into lines on the page of the book are but for the eye. The thought goes over them, not only to the completion of sentences, but of clauses and subordinate divisions. In other words, the ends of lines are not marked by any peculiar cadence either in the rhythm, as in Greek, or in the thought, as in Hebrew. By the ear alone, one could not tell whether the reader was at the beginning, at a mid cæsura, or at the ends of verses. Now the Hebrew parallelisms, whether they have within them what may strictly be called rhythm or not, are ever marked by distinct closings, determined both by the cadence of the thought, and by the position of the accents. This must be attended to,-and the translator has aimed at its strictest observance. For such a purpose, inequality of lines is absolutely demanded, since the Hebrew divisions thus made are of very different lengths. Besides, such inequality, if rightly managed, is an excellence and a beauty in itself. It prevents monotony, and gives, moreover, the freedom that is wanted in the more impassioned parts,-especially in Job's sighing, soliloquizing, and sometimes almost delirious utterances.
Thus the reader will perceive, that in order to preserve these important elements of parallelism and accent, there has been employed a very peculiar kind of rhythm. It bears an outward resemblance to what is sometimes incorrectly called Pindaric in English verse. But this is a misnomer, because the true Pindaric has different kinds of feet, or measures, as well as different lengths of lines. Here, however, one kind of foot, the iambus (v-) or the iambic spondee, is universal. Other feet, as they very rarely occur, are merely substitutes for it. Thus the anapæst (un) is used sometimes at the beginning of a line, as also a choriamb (-uo-), occasionally, but ever in such a way as to commence a dipode with the stronger ictus. The tribrach (uvo) very rarely occurs. It is avoided as unmusical, though commonly regarded as admissible among English iambi.