Fokkelman - The Book of Job in Form

TheBookof Job inForm

The book of  Job in form: a literary translation with commentary / translated from the Hebrew, annotated and introduced by Jan P. Fokkelman

Академическая работа по книге Иова.


The Book of Job is an exceptional, eminently literary work. It is the only well-sustained work of poetry with a well-thought-out plan, and of considerable length, within a body of literature which itself is of an exceptional quality and variety in its cultural milieu—the Ancient Near East. The collection of which Job is a part is known in the Christianized world by the somewhat unfortunate name of'Old Testament; the more recent title 'First Testament' leads to fewer misunderstandings.
The writer did not make things easy for himself. He struggled with fun­damental questions: is integrity possible and credible, even when subjected to an extreme test? What does this entail for our image of man? And for readers who are believers and who hope to link up with the Israelite who is the anonymous author of the Book of Job: what does it entail for our image of God? Can one be uninhibitedly furious, sad or desperate when one addresses God?
The Book of Job is a particularly 'unwieldy' text. Like its author, neither translator nor readers can make things easy for themselves. The forms (translations) in which the text is available are of little help, because they print the masses of verses without breaks. It is a tall order not to become dejected and not to get stuck when working through such unarticulated matter. Moreover, biblical scholarship has not concerned itself with the proper framing of a theory which could clear up the foundations, the rules, and the conventions of this poetry.
I have concerned myself extensively with poetics, as readers of my Read­ing Biblical Poetry (2001) know. I have demonstrated that the poets of the Book of Psalms, Lamentations, Song of Songs, Job, Proverbs, and other poetry were in full command of their craft on all levels of the text. They con­tinually watched the proportions of verses, strophes and stanzas and man­aged to make them subservient to expression and content.
Now that this has been elaborately documented, we can print and read the poetry in the forms and proportions which have characterized it from the beginning. My translation of the Book of Job makes the text much more accessible by the application of blank lines; they make every little step in the speaker's train of thought visible. My annotations provide aids to reading and follow the plot in which the debate of Job and his friends is embedded, together with God's 'reply from the storm'. Furthermore, I establish connections between higher units of text, so that the cohesion and the depth of the text can come out well. At the last moment, the new translation of Job 42:6 finally brings out the true proportions of the hero's portrait.

This English Version

The original version of this book is in Dutch, appeared in October 2009 in the Netherlands and it is called Het boek Job in vorm. The English version of the central part, the Job text proper, is from my hand. I am grateful to Mrs. P. Visser-Hagedoorn, M.A., for her translation of the parts I and III (the Introduction and the Reading Guides) and to my friend Dr. Lloyd Haft, who meticulously checked the entire text and polished some details where needed. I wish to thank my Californian friends from the Peninsula Bible Church Cupertino: their support, well coordinated by Mrs. Melody Moh, covered an important part of my translation costs.
There is one major change in this book. For those readers who like to check my version of Job with the original text I have added the full Hebrew text in such a way that the central part of this book has become bilingual. The left pages have the Hebrew and show those verses which on the right pages are presented in English.
The main aim of this book is to present a platform for an intensive and highly personal encounter with a unique and major work of art. Therefore the presence of the Hebrew text has a subservient function. In the scope of this book some subtleties of the Masoretic text are not relevant, so that I have skipped them. The book of Job has some forty cases of Ketib and Qere. Most of them are mainly or merely of an orthographical nature; then the Qere is attractive. For the rest, I maintain and print the Ketib in Job 9:30a, 13:15a, 19:29c, 21:13a, 24:6a, 30:22b, 33:19b and 28ab, 41:4a and 42:16b.


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