Job, Book of

Job, Book of pronounced by Carlyle “one of the grandest things ever written with pen; grand in its sincerity, in its simplicity, in its epic melody and repose of reconcilement”; one perceives in it “the seeing eye, the mildly understanding heart, true eyesight and vision for all things; sublime sorrow and sublime reconciliation; oldest choral melody as of the heart of mankind; so soft and great as the summer midnight, as the world with its seas and stars”; the whole giving evidence “of a literary merit unsurpassed by anything written in Bible or out of it; not a Jew's book merely, but all men's book.” It is partly didactic and partly biographic; that is to say, the object of the author is to solve a problem in part speculatively, or in the intelligence, and in part spiritually, or in the life; the speculative solution being, that sufferings are to prove and purify the righteous; and the spiritual, consisting in accepting them not as of merely Divine appointment, but manifestations of God Himself, which is accomplished in the experience of Job when he exclaims at last, “Now mine eye seeth Thee.” It is very idle to ask if the story is a real one, since its interest and value do not depend on its historic, but its universal and eternal truth; nor is the question of the authorship of any more consequence, even if there were any clue to it, which there is not, as the book offers no difficulty to the interpreter which any knowledge of the author would the least contribute to remove. In such a case the challenge of Goethe is apropos, “What have I to do with names when it is a work of the spirit I am considering?” The book of Job was for long believed to be one of the oldest books in the world, and to have had its origin among a patriarchal people, such as the Arabs, but is now pretty confidently referred to a period between that of David and the return from the captivity, the character of it bespeaking a knowledge and experience peculiarly Jewish.

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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