Book of Job revisited

02 Sep

I mentioned The Book of Job back on the 26th of August and promised a snippet from the old Catholic Knox version. You have to be careful with snippets from Job as it is best read as a whole work rather than in verses. However, here is my sample. I just like the English of this. One thing though; the Knox version prints all the poetic sections as prose. I remember reading somewhere this was an economy measure — prose takes up less space.

Ay, you* have come, but finding me so sorely smitten you dread my company. It was little enough I asked; I never bade you diminish your own wealth by bringing gifts to me, never begged your aid to rid me of some enemy that was too strong for me. Come, be my instructors; I will hear you out in silence; tell me what is the fault I have committed, all unknowing? Ill fare the claims of truth with such as you; not one of you can shew me in the wrong, yet for very love of reproof you must be reproving still, all your words wasted on the air. Is it well done, to make a prey of the defenceless, to conspire against the the good name of your friend? Browbeat me, then, at your pleasure; try if close scrutiny can prove me false; only let there be no contentiousness in your pleadings; in all honesty bring your complaint. You will not fasten guilt on any word of mine; reckless utterance never these lips shall frame.

What is man’s life on earth but a campaigning? Like a hired drudge, he passes his time away; nor ever was slave so weary, longing for the shade, or drudge so weary, waiting to earn his hire, as I have been, counting these months of emptiness, these nights that never brought rest. Lie I down to sleep, I weary to be up with the day; comes the day, I weary for the evening, comfortless until dark…

Bethink thee, Lord, it is but a breath, this life of mine, and I shall look on this world but once; when that is done, men will see me no more, and thou as nothing. Like a cloud dislimned in passing, a man goes to his grave never to return; never again the home-coming, never shall tidings of him reach the haunts he knew. And should I utter no word? Nay, the crushed spirit will find a voice, the embittered heart will not keep its own counsel. Am I a raging sea, a ravening monster, that thou guardest me so close? When I would find rest on my pillow, take refuge in night thoughts, what dreams thou sendest to daunt me, what sights of terror to unman me.

Bleak yes, but beautiful. From Job Ch 6 and 7.

* His “comforters”.

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Posted by on September 2, 2007 in Cultural and other, Faith and philosophy, Reading, Religion, writing



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