“A Man There Was”

Theophrastus over at BLT is doing a fascinating series comparing twenty(!!) different translations of the Book of Job. Already in the very opening sentence of the book, there’s a lot to see about how the views of the translator affect the translation, or in other words, as my scripture profs put it, how the act of translation always includes an element of interpretation.

In this case, the main question of interpretation concerns literary form: is Job a true story? Is this a legend based on fact? Or is it a parable, a fairy tale, a drama?

Theophrastus quotes Alter and Pope who both describe the Hebrew phrase that opens the book as inverted (“A man there was”) compared to normal historical usage (“There was a man”), and thus a literary device commonly used in parables.

I was especially interested in J. K. Gayle’s comment pointing out that the Septuagint Greek translation of the book’s opening is used by the gospel writers to open the parables of Jesus. This looks like evidence that the gospel writers, at least, saw Job as a parable.

Fascinating stuff! I look forward to the rest of the series.

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2 Responses to “A Man There Was”

  1. Theophrastus says:

    I need to thank you twice for this post; first for your kind words, and second because the pingback introduced me to your fascinating blog!

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