Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Job

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102112Catholic Encyclopedia (1913) — JobJoseph Hontheim

One of the books of the Old Testament, and the chief personage in it. In this article it is primarily the book which is treated. As opportunity, however, occurs, and so far as is permissible, Job himself will be considered. The subject will be discussed under the following heads: I. Position of the Book in the Canon; II. Authority; III. The Characters of the Poem; IV. Contents; V. Arrangement of the Main, Poetic Portion of the Book; VI. Design of the Book; VII. Teaching as to the Future Life; VIII. Integrity of the Book; IX. Condition of the Text; X. Technical Skill of the Author and the Metre; XI. Time of its Composition.


In the Hebrew Bible Psalms, Proverbs, and Job are always placed together, the Psalms coming first, while Job is put between the other two or, at times, comes last. The three books form a part of the Hagiographa (Kethubim), having sometimes the first place among the Hagiographa, while again they may be preceded by Ruth, or Paralipomenon, or Paralipomen with, Ruth (cf. lists in Ginsburg, "Introduction to Heb. Bible", London, 1897, 7). In the Greek Bible and the Vulgate Job now stands before Psalms and follows directly after the historical books. The old Greek and the Latin MSS., however, assign it the most varied positions; see, for exemple, the list of Melito of Sardis, and that of Origen as given by Eusebius, "Hist. Eccle.", IV, iv, 26, and vi, 25 (in P.G., XX., 398, 582). In the Syriac Bible Job is placed directly after the Pentateuch and before Josue (cf. the lists in Hodius, "De Bibliorum textibus", Oxford, 1705, 644 sqq.; Samuel Berger, "Hist. de la Vulgate", Paris, 1893, 331-39).


(1) Historical Accuracy

Many look upon the entire contents of the book as a freely invented parable which is neither historical nor intended to be considered historical; no such man as Job ever lived. Catholic commentators, however, almost without exception, hold Job to have actually existed and his personality to have been preserved by popular tradition. Nothing in the text makes it necessary to doubt his historical existence. The Scriptures seem repeatedly to take this for granted (cf. Ezech., xiv, 14; James, v, I 1; Tob., ii, 12-15, according to the Vulgate - in the Greek text of Tobias there is no mention of Job). All the Fathers considered Job an historical person; some of their testimonies may be found in Knabenbauer, "Zu Job" (Paris, 1886), 12-13. The Martyrology of the Latin Church mentions Job on 10 May, that of the Greek Church on 6 May (cf. Acta SS.' II, May, 494). The Book of Job, therefore, has a kernel of fact, with which have been united many imaginative additions that are not strictly historical. What is related by the poet in the prose prologue and epilogue is in the main historical: the persons of the hero and his friends; the region where be lived; his good fortune and virtues; the great misfortune that overwhelmed him and the patience with which lie bore it; the restoration of his Prosperity. It is also to be accepted that Job and his friends discussed the origin of his sufferings, and that in so doing views were expressed similar to those the poet puts into the mouths of his characters. The details of the execution, the poetic form, and the art shown in the arrangement of the arguments in the dispute are, however, the free creation of the author. The figures expressive of the wealth of Job both before and after his trial are imaginatively rounded. Also in the narrative of the misfortunes it is impossible not to recognize a poetic conception which need not be considered as strictly historical. The scene in heaven (i, 6; ii, 1) is plainly an allegory which shows that the Providence of God guides the destiny of man (cf. St. Thomas, "In Job"). The manifestation of God (xxxviii, 1) generally receives a literal interpretation from commentators. St. Thomas, however, remarks that it may also be taken metaphorically as an inner revelation accorded to Job.

(2) Divine Authority of the Book

The Church teaches that the book was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Thus all that its author gives as historical fact or otherwise guarantees possesses unfailing Divine truth. The question, however, arises, what does the book guarantee? (a) Everything in prologue or epilogue that is the comment of the author is Divine truth; nevertheless, what is perhaps poetic ornament must not be confounded with historical verity or objective dogmatic precepts. The same authority is possessed by the utterances assigned by the poet to God. The like is true of the speeches of Eliu. Some think the speeches of Eliu are to be judged just as are those of Job and his friends. (b) The speeches of Job and his three friends have in themselves no Divine authority, but only such human importance as Job and his three friends are Personally entitled to. They have, however, Divine authority when, and in as far as, they are approved by the author expressly or tacitly. In general, such tacit approbation is to be understood for all points concerning which the disputants agree, unless the author, or God, or Eliu, shows disapproval. Thus the words of Job have in large degree Divine authority, because the view be maintains against the three friends is plainly characterized by the author as the one relatively correct. Yet much that the three friends say is of equal importance, because it is at least tacitly approved. St. Paul argues (I Cor., iii, 19) from a speech of Eliphaz (Job, v, 13) as from an inspired writing. (c) In particular places, especially where descriptions of nature are given or other secular matters are referred to, the caution prescribed by the rules of hermeneutics should be observed.


Apart from the prologue and epilogue, the Book of Job consists of a succession of speeches assigned to distinct persons. There are six speakers: Yahweh, Eliu, Job, and Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Baldad, and Sophar.

(1) Job

The chief personage is Job.

(a) Name

He is called the "persecuted one", that is, the one tempted by (personified) suffering, the one hard beset, the patient sufferer. It is no longer possible to decide whether the name was originally different and was later changed into the expressive form in folklore on account of Job's fate. Many commentators do not accept this explanation of the name.

(b) Age in which Job lived

According to the usual and well-founded assumption, Job lived long before Moses. This is shown by the great age he attained. He was no longer young when overtaken by his great misfortune (xii, 12; xxx, 1); after his restoration he lived one hundred and forty years longer (xlii, 16). His wealth like that of the Patriarchs, consisted largely in flocks and herds (i, 3; xlii, 12). The kesitah or piece of money mentioned in xlii, 11, belongs to patriarchal times; the only other places in which the expression occurs are Gen., xxxiii, 19, and Jos., xxiv, 32. The musical instruments referred to (xxi, 12; xxx, 31) are only those mentioned in Genesis (Gen. iv, 21; xxxi, 27): organ, harp, and timbrel. Job himself offers sacrifice as the father of the family (i, 5), as was also the custom of the Patriarchs. An actual offering for sin in the Mosaic sense he was not acquainted with; the holocaust took its place (i, 5; xlii, 8).

(c) Religion of Job

Job evidently did not belong to the chosen people. He lived, indeed, outside of Palestine. He and the other characters betray no knowledge of the specifically Israelitic institutions. Even the name of God peculiar to the chosen people, Yahweh, is carefully avoided by the speakers in the poetic part of the book, and is only found, as if accidentally, in xii, 9, and according to some MSS. in xxviii, 28. The sacrifice in xlii, 8, recalls the sacrifice of Balaam (Num., xxiii, 1), consequently a custom outside of Israel. For the solution of the problem of suffering the revelations made to the Patriarchs or even Moses are never referred to. Nevertheless Job and his friends venerated the one true God. They also knew of the Flood (xxii, 16), and the first man (xv, 7, and Hebrew, xxxi, 33).

(d) Country in which Job lived

Job belonged to the "people of the East" (i, 3). Under this name were included the Arabian (Gen., xxv, 6) and Aramaean (Num., xxxiii, 7) tribes which lived east of the Jordan basin and in the region of the Euphrates (Gen., xxix, 1). Job seems to have been an Aramaean, for he lived in the land of Hus (i, I; Ausitis). Hus, a man's name in Genesis, is always used there in close connection with Aram and the Aramaean (Gen., x, 23; xxii, 21; xxxvi, 28). His home was certainly not far from Edom where Eliphaz lived, and it must be sought in Eastern Palestine, not too far north, although in the region inhabited by the Aramaeans. It was located on the border of the Syro-Arabian desert, for it was exposed to the attacks of the marauding bands which wandered through this desert: the Chaldeans (i, 17) of the lower Euphrates and the Sabeans (i, 15), or Arabs. Many. following an old tradition, place the home of Job in the Hauran, in the district of Naiwa (or Neve), which is situated about 36° East of Greenwich and in almost the same latitude as the northern end of Lake Genesareth. The location is possible, but positive proof is lacking. Some seek the home of Job in Idumea, others in the land of the Ausitai, who, according to Ptolemy (Geogr., V, xix, par. 18, 2), lived in Northern Arabia near the Babylon. The land of Hus is also mentioned in Jer., xxv, 20, and Lam., iv, 21. In the first reference it is used in a general sense for the whole East; in the latter it is said that the Edomites live there.

(e) The Standing of Job

Job was one of the most important men of the land (i, 3; xxix, 25) and had many bondsmen (xxxi, 39). The same is true of the friends who visited him; in the Book of Tobias these are called "kings" (Tob., ii, 15, in Vulgate). In the Book of Job also Job seems to be described as a king with many vassals under him (xxix). That he had brothers and relations is seen in xix and in the epilogue.

(f) Job and Jobab

An appendix to the Book of Job in the Septuagint identifies Job with King Jobab of Edom (Gen. xxxvi, 33). Nothing in the book shows that Job was ruler of Edom; in Hebrew the two names have nothing in common.

(2) Eliphaz, Baldad and Sophar

The most important of Job's three friends was Eliphaz of Theman. The name shows him to be an Edomite (Gen., xxxvi, 11, 15). The Themanites of Edom were famous for their wisdom (Jer., xlix, 7; Abd., S; Bar., iii, 22 sq.). Eliphaz was one of these sages (xv, 9). He was far advanced in years (xv, 10), and much older than the already elderly Job (xxx, 1). The second of Job's friends was Baidad the Suhite, who seems to have belonged to Northern Arabia, for Sue was a son of Abraham by Cetura (Gen., xxv, 2, 6). He may have been of the same age as Job. The third friend, Sophar, was probably also an Arabian. The Hebrew text calls him a Naamathite. Naama was a small town in the territory belonging to Juda (Jos., xv, 41), but Sophar hardly lived there. Perhaps the preferable reading is that of the Septuagint which calls Sophar always a Minaean; the Minaeans were an Arabian tribe. Sophar was far younger than Job (cf. Job's reply to Sophar, xii, 11-12; xiii, 1-2).

(3) Eliu

Like Job, Eliu the Buzite was an Aramean; at least this is indicated by his native country, Buz, for Buz is closely connected (Gen., xxii, 21) with Hus. Eliu was much younger than Sophar (xxxii, 6).

(4) Besides the speakers a large number of listeners were present at the discussion (xxxiv, 2, 34); some maintained a neutral position, as did Eliu at first.


The Book of Job consists of (1) a prologue in prose (i-ii), (2) a poetic, main division (iii-xlii, 6), and (3) an epilogue also in prose (xlii, 7-17).

(1) The prologue narrates how, with the permission of God, a holy man Job is tried by Satan with severe afflictions, in order to test his virtue. In succession Job bears six great temptations with heroic patience, and without the slightest murmuring against God or wavering in loyalty to him. Then Job's three friends, Eliphaz, Baldad, and Sophar, come to console him. Their visit is to become the seventh and greatest trial.

(2) The poetical, main division of the book presents in a succession of speeches the course of this temptation. The three friends are fully convinced that trouble is always a result of wrongdoing. They consider Job, therefore, a great sinner and stigmatize his assertions of innocence as hypocrisy. Job is hurt by the suspicion of his friends. He protests that he is no evil-doer, that God punishes him against his deserts. In the course of his speech he fails in reverence towards God, Who appears to him not unrighteous, but more as a severe, hard, and somewhat inconsiderate ruler than as a kind Father. Taking into consideration that the language is poetic, it is true that his expressions cannot be pushed too far, but the sharp reproofs of Eliu (xxxiv, 1-9, 36-37; xxxv, 16) and of Yahweh (Xxxviii, 2; xl, 3-9) leave no doubt of his sin. In answering his friends Job emphasizes that God indeed is accustomed to reward virtue and to punish wickedness (xxvii, 7-23; xxxi). He even threatens his friends with the judgment of God on account of their unfriendly suspicion (vi, 14; xiii, 7-12; xvii,, 4; xix, 29). He rightly proves, however violently, that in this world the rule has many exceptions. Almost universally, he says, the wicked triumph and the innocent suffer (ix, 22-24, xxi, xxiv). Yet for all this Job, like his friends, regards all suffering as a punishment for personal sins, although he does not, as his friends, consider it a punishment of gross sin. Job looks upon the sufferings of the righteous as an almost unjust severity of God, which he inflicts for the slightest mistakes, and which the most virtuous man cannot escape (vii, 21; ix 30-21; X, 6, 13-14). The expressions of depression and irreverence uttered by Job are, besides, only venial sins, which human beings can never fully avoid. Job himself says that his words are not to be taken too exactly, they are almost the involuntary expression of his pain (vi, 2-10, 26-27). Many of his utterances the character of temptations in thought which force themselves out almost against the will, rather than of voluntary irreverence towards God, although Job's error was greater than he was willing to acknowledge. Thus Job bore all the tests triumphantly, even those caused by his friends. No matter how terrible the persecutions of God might be, Job held fast to Him (vi, 8-10) and drew ever closer to Him (xvii, 9). In the midst of his sufferings he lauds God's power (xxvi, 5-14) and wisdom (xxviii). Satan, who had boasted that he could lead Job into sin against God (i, 11; ii, 5), is discredited. The epilogue testifies expressly to Job's faithfulness (xlii, 7-9). After much discourse (iii-xxii) Job finally succeeds in silencing the three friends, although he is not able to convince them of his innocence. In a series of monologues (xxiii-xxxi), interrupted only by a short speech by Baldad (xxv), he once more renews his cornplaints (xxiii-xxiv), extols the greatness of God (xxvi-xxviii), and closes with a forcible appeal to the Almighty to, examine his case and to recognize his innocence (xxix-xxxi). At this juncture Eliu, a youth who was one of the company of listeners, is filled by God with the spirit of prophecy (xxxii, 18-22; xxxvi, 2-4). In a long discourse he solves the problem of suffering, which Job and his friends had failed to explain. He says that suffering, whether severe or light, is not always a result of sin; it is a means by which God tries and promotes virtue (xxxvi, 1-21), and is thus a proof of God's love for his friends. The sufferings of Job are also such a testing (xxxvi, 16-21). At the same time Eliu emphasizes the fact that the dispensations of God remain inexplicable and mysterious (xxxvi, 22; xxxvii, 24). Yahweh speaks at the end (xxxviii-xlii, 6). He confirms the statements of Eliu, carrying further Eliu's last thought of the inexplicability of the Divine decrees and works by a reference to the wonder of animate and inanimate nature. Job is severely rebuked on account of his irreverence; he confesses briefly his guilt and promises amendment in the future.

(3) In the epilogue Yahweh bears witness in a striking manner to the innocence of His servant, that is to Job's freedom from gross transgression. The three friends are commanded to obtain Job's intercession, otherwise they will be severely punished for their uncharitable complaints against the pious sufferer. Yahweh forgives the three at the entreaty of Job, who is restored to double his former prosperity.

In his lectures on "Babel und Bibel" Delitzsch says that the Book of Job expresses doubt, in language that borders on blasphemy, of even the existence of a just the God. These attacks arise from an extreme view of expressions of despondency. Further, the assertions often heard of late that the book contains many mythological ideas prove to be mere imagination.


(1)The poetic portion of the book may be divided into two sections: chs. iii-xxii and xxiii-xlii, 6. The first section consists of colloquies: the three friends in turn express their views, while to each speech Job makes a rejoinder. In the second section the three friends are silent, for Baldad's interposition (xxv) is as little a formal discourse as Job's brief comments (xxxix, 34-35 and xlii, 2-6). Job, Eliu, and Yahweh speak successively, and each utters a series of monologues. The length of the two sections is exactly, or almost exactly, the same, namely 510 lines each (cf. Hontheim "Das Buch Job", Freiburg im Br., 1904, 44). The second division begins with the words: "Now also my words are in bitterness" (xxiii, 2; A.V.: "Even to-day is my complaint bitter"). This shows not only that with these words a new section opens, but also that the monologues were not uttered on the same day as the colloquies. The first monologue is evidently the opening of a new section, not a rejoinder to the previous speech of Eliphaz (xxii).

(2) The colloquies are divided into two series: chs. iii-xiv and xv-xxii. In each series Eliphaz, Baldad, and Sophar speak in turn in the order given (iv-v, viii, xi, and xv, xviii, xx), while Job replies to each of their discourses (vi-vii, ix-x, xii-xiv, xvi-xvii, xix, xxi). The first series, furthermore, is opened by a lament from Job (iii), and the second closes with a speech by Eliphaz in which he weakly reproaches Job (xxii - it is generally held that this chapter begins a new series), who rightly leaves this address unanswered. Each series contains seven speeches. In the first the friends try to convince Job of his guilt and of the necessity and good results of amendment. Eliphaz appeals to Revelation (iv, 12-21), Baldad to the authority of the Fathers 8-10), Sophar to understanding or philosophy (xi, 5-12). Eliphaz lays weight on the goodness of God (v, 9-27), Baldad on His justice (viii, 2-7), Sophar on His all-seeing power and wisdom, to which Job's most secret sins were plain, even those which Job himself had almost forgotten (xi, 5-12). In the second series of speeches the friends try to terrify Job: one after the other, and in much the same form of address, they point out the terrible punishment which overtakes hidden sin. During the first series of speeches Job's despondency continually increases, even the thought of the future bringing him no comfort (xiv, 7-22); in the second series the change to improvement has begun, and Job once more feels joy and hope in the thought of God and the future life (xvi, 18-22; xix, 23-28).

(3) The monologues may also be divided into two series. The first includes the monologues of Job, seven in number. First Job repeats is complaint to God (xxiii-xxiv), asserts, however, in three speeches his unchangeable devotion to God by lauding in brilliant discourse the power (xxvi), justice (xxvii), and wisdom (xxviii) of the Almighty. Finally in three further speeches be lays his case before God, imploring investigation and recognition of his innocence: How happy was I once (xxix), how unhappy am I now (xxx), and I am not to blame for this change (xxxi). The second series contains the discourses of Eliu and Yahweh, also seven in number. In three speeches Eliu explains the sufferings which befall men. Trouble is often a Divine instruction, a warning to the godless to reform (xxxii-xxxiii, 30), thus revealing the goodness of God; it is often simply a punishment of the wicked who are perhaps in no way bettered by it (xxxiii, 31-xxxv), thus revealing the justice of God.

(4) Finally, troubles can also overtake the just as a trial which purifies and increases their virtue (xxxvi-xxxvii), thus revealing God's unfathomable wisdom. The following four utterances of Yahweh illustrate the inscrutableness, already touched upon by Eliu, of the Divine wisdom by dwelling upon the wonders of inanimate nature (xxxviii, 1-38), of the animal world (xxxviii, 39-xxxix), and especially by referring to the great monsters of the animal world, the hippopotamus and the crocodile (xl, 10-xli). He then closes with a rebuke to Job for expressing himself too despondently and irreverently concerning his sufferings, upon which Job confesses his guilt and promises amendment (xxxix, 31-xl, 9 and xlii, 1-6); it appears that xxxix, 31-xl, 9, should be inserted after xli.


The Book of Job is intended to give instruction. What it lays special stress on is that God's wisdom and Providence guide all the events of this world (cf. xxviii, xxxviii-xii). The main subject of investigation is the problem of evil and its relation to the Providence of God; particularly considered is the suffering of the upright in its bearing on the ends intended in the government of the world. The Book of Job is further intended for edification, for Job is to us an example of patience. It is, finally, a book of consolation for all sufferers. They learn from it that misfortune is not a sign of hatred, but often a proof of special Divine love. For the mystical explanation of the book, especially of Job as a type of Christ, cf. Knabenbauer, "In Job", 28-32.


In his sufferings Job abandoned all hope for the restoration of health and good fortune in this world (xvii, 11-16; xxi). If he were to continue to hold to the hope of reward here Satan would not be defeated. In the complete failure of all his earthly hopes, Job fastens his gaze upon the future. In the argument of the first series of speeches Job in his depression regards the future world only as the end of the present existence. The soul indeed lives on, but all ties with the present world so dear to us are forever broken. Death is not only the end of all earthly suffering (ii, 13-19), but also of all earthly life (vii, 6-10), and all earthly joys (x, 21-22), with no hope of a return to this world (xiv, 7-22). It is not until the second series that Job's thoughts on the future life grow more hopeful. However, he expects as little as in the first discussion a renewal of the life here, but hopes for a higher life in the next world. As early as chapter xvi (19-22) his hope in the recognition of his virtue in the next world is strengthened. It is, however, in xix (23-28) that Job's inspired hope rises to its greatest height and he utters his famous declaration of the resurrection of the body. Notwithstanding this joyous glimpse into the future, the difficult problem of the present life still remained: "Even for this life how can the wisdom and goodness of God be so hard towards His servants?" Of this the complete solution, so far as such was possible and was included in the plan of the book, does not appear until the discourses of Eliu and Yahweh are given. Great efforts have been made by critics to alter the interpretation of ch. xix, and to remove from it the resurrection of the body; the natural meaning of the words, the argument of the book, and the opinion of all early commentators make this attempt of no avail (cf. commentaries, as those of Knabenbauer, Hontheim, etc.; also the article "Eine neue Uebersetzung von Job xix, 25-27" in the "Zeitschrift f¸r kath. Theologie", 1907, 376 sqq.). See the commentaries for the doctrines of the Divine wisdom (xxviii), etc.


Prologue and epilogue (i-ii; xlii, 7 sqq.) are regarded by many as not parts of the original work. The prologue, though, is absolutely essential. Without it the colloquies would be unintelligible, nor would the reader know the end whether to believe the assertion of Job as to his innocence or not. Upon hearing the rebukes of Eliu and Yahweh, he might be exposed to the danger of siding against Job. Without the epilogue the close of the work would be insatisfactory, an evident humiliation of the righteous. For detailed treatment of this and kindred questions see Hontheim, op. cit.

(2) Many also regard ch. xxvii, 7-23, as a later addition; in this passage Job maintains that the wicked suffer in this world, while elsewhere he has declared the contrary. The answer is: Job teaches that God is accustomed even in this world to reward the good in some measure and to punish the wicked. In other passages he does not deny this rule, but merely says it has many exceptions. Consequently there is no contradiction. [See above, IV (2).] Besides it may be conceded that Job is not always logical. At the beginning, when his depression is extreme, he lays too much emphasis on the prosperity of the godless; gradually he becomes more composed and corrects earlier extreme statements. Not everything that Job says is the doctrine of the book. [See above, II (2).]

(3) Many regard ch. xxviii as doubtful, because it has no connection with what goes before or follows and is in no way related to the subject-matter of the book. The answer to this is that the poet has to show how the suffering of Job does not separate him from God, but, against the intent of Satan, drives him into closer dependence on God. Consequently he represents Job, after his complaints (xxiii-xxv), as glorifying God again at once, as in xxvi-xxvii, in which Job lauds God's power and righteousness. The praise of God is brought to a climax in xxviii, where Job extols God's power and righteousness. After Job has thus surrendered himself to God, he can with full confidence, in xxix-xxxi, lay his sorrowful condition before God for investigation. Consequently xxviii is in its proper place, connects perfectly with what precedes and follows, and harmonizes with the subject-matter of the book.

(4) Many regard the description of hippopotamus and crocodile (xl, 10-xli) as later additions, because they lack connection with xxxix, 31-xl, 9, belonging rather to the description of animals in xxxix. In reply it may be said that this objection is not without force. Who ever agrees with the present writer in this opinion need only hold that xxxix, 31-xl, 9, originally followed xli. The difficulty is then settled, and there is no further reason for considering the splendid description of the two animals as a later insertion.

(5) There is much disagreement as to the speeches of Eliu (xxxii-xxxvii). With the exception of Budde, nearly all Protestant commentators regard them as a later insertion, while the great majority of Catholic investigators rightly defend them as belonging to the original work. The details of this discussion cannot be entered upon here, and the reader is referred to the commentaries of Budde and Hontheim. The latter sums up his long investigation in these words: "The section containing the speeches of Eliu has been carefully prepared by the poet and is closely and with artistic correctness connected with the previous and following portions. It is united with the rest of the book by countless allusions and relations. It is dominated by the same ideas as the rest of the poem. It makes use also of the same language and the same method of presentation both in general and in detail. All the peculiarities exhibited by the author of the argumentative speeches are reproduced in the addresses of Eliu. The content of this portion is the saving of the honour of Job and is essential as the solution of the subject of discussion. Consequently there is no reason whatever for assuming that it is an interpolation; everything is clearly against this" (Hontheim, op. cit., 20-39. Cf. also Budde, "Beitr"ge zur Kritik des Buches Hiob", 1876; Knabenbauer, "In Job"). Anyone who desires to consider the speeches of Eliu as a later addition must hold, by the teaching of the Church, that they are inspired.

(6) There is in general no reason whatever for considering any important part of the book either large or small as not belonging to the original text. Equally baseless is the supposition that important portions of the original composition are lost.


The most important means for judging the Massoretic Text are the old translations made directly from the Hebrew: the Targum, Peshito, Vulgate, Septuagint, and the other Greek translations used by Origen to supplement the Septuagint. with the exception of the Septuagint, the original of all these translations was essentially identical with the Massoretic Text; only unimportant differences can be proved. On the other hand, the Septuagint in the form it had before Origen, was about four hundred lines, that is one-fifth shorter than the Massoretic Text. Origen supplied what was lacking in the Septuagint from the Greek translations and marked the additions by asterisks. Copyists generally omitted these critical signs, and only a remnant of them, mixed with many errors, has been reserved in a few manuscripts. Consequently knowledge of the old form of the Septuagint is very imperfect. The best means now of restoring it is the Copto-Sahidic translation which followed the Septuagint and does not contain Origen's additions. This translation was published by Ciasca, "Sacrorum Bibliorum fragments Copto-Sahidica" (2 vols., Rome, 1889), and by Amelineau in "Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archeology", IX (1893), 409-75. Hatch and Bickell claim that the shorter text of the Septuagint is in general the earlier one, consequently that the present Massoretic Text is an expansion of a shorter original. Nearly all other investigators hold the opposite, that the Septuagint was produced by cutting down an original which varied but little from the Massoretic Text. This was also Bickell's view in earlier years, and is the real state of the case. To avoid repetition and discursive statements, the translators of the Septuagint omitted much, especially where the reading seemed doubtful, translation difficult, the content anthropomorphic, unworthy of Job, or otherwise objectionable. In doing this the translation frequently disregards the fundamental principle of Hebrew poetry, the parallelism of the lines. In brief the critical value of the Septuagint is not great; in almost all instances the Massoretic Text is to be preferred. Taken altogether, the Massoretic has preserved the original form of the consonantal text fairly well, and needs but a moderate amount of critical emendation. The punctuation (vowel signs and accents), it is true, frequently requires correction, for the punctuators did not always lightly understand the often difficult text; at times also words are not properly divided.


Chapters iii-xlii, 6, are poetical in form. This part of the book consists of about 102O lines. The verses, which do not always correspond with the Massoretic verses of our editions, are generally divided into two clauses or lines which are parallel in content. There are also a number of verses, about sixty, of three clauses each, the so-called triplets. It is an unjustifiable violence to the text when a critic by removing one clause changes these triplets into couplets. The verses form the twenty-eight speeches of the book which, as already stated, make four series of seven speeches each. The speeches are divided, not directly into lines, but into strophes. It is most probable that the speeches formed from strophes often, perhaps always follow the law of "choral structure" discovered by Father Zenner. That is, the speeches often or always consist of pairs of strophes, divided by intermediate strophes not in pairs. The two strophes forming a pair are parallel in content and have each the same number of lines. For a further discussion of this subject see Hontheim, op. cit. Investigators are not agreed as to the construction of the line. Some count the syllables, others only the stresses, others again the accented words. It would seem that the last view is the one to be preferred. There are about 2100 lines in the Book of Job, containing generally three, at times two or four, accented words. Besides the commentaries, cf. Gietmann, "Parzival, Faust, Job" (Freiburg im Br., 1887); Baumgartner, "Gesch. d. Weltliteratur", I (Freiburg im Br., 1901), 24 sqq. One peculiarity of the author of Job is his taste for play upon words; for example, ch. xxi contains a continuous double meaning.


The author of the book is unknown, neither can the period in which it was written be exactly determined. Many considered the book the work of Job himself or Moses. It is now universally and correctly held that the book is not earlier than the reign of Solomon. On the other hand it is earlier than Ezechiel (Ezech., xiv, 1 -20). For it is the natural supposition that the latter gained his knowledge of Job from the Book of Job, and not from other, vanished, sources. It is claimed that allusions to Job have also been found in Isaias, Amos, Lamentations, some of the Psalms, and especially Jeremias. Many Catholic investigators even at the present time assign the book to the reign of Solomon; the masterly poetic form points to this brilliant period of Hebrew poetry. The proofs, however, are not very convincing. Others, especially Protestant investigators, assign the work to the period after Solomon. They support this position largely upon religious historical considerations which do not appear to have much force.

Full bibliographies are to be found in CORNELY, Introductio in U. T. libros sacros, II (2nd ed., 1897), ii, 71 sqq., and in the commentaries of DILLMANN and BUDDE, cf. also the various Introductions to the Scripture, as GIGOT (1906); TROCHON (1886); KAULEN (4th ed., 1899); CORNELY (2nd ed., Paris, 1897); further the articles on Job in the theological and Biblical encyclopedias. Of the large number of commentaries on Job the following may be mentioned. Catholic: WELTE (1849); KNABENBAUER (Paris, 1886), HONTHEIM (1904). Non-Catholic: DELITZSCH (2nd ed., 1876); DILLMANN (4th ed., 1891); DAVIDSON in Cambridge Bible (1895); BUDDE (1896); DUHM (1897); WIGHT AND HIRSCH, A Commentary on the Book of Job from a Hebrew Manuscript in the University Library, Cambridge (1905). Among special works mention may be made of: BICKELL, De indole ac ratione versionis Alexandrinae in interpretando libro Jobi (1862); IDEM, Carmina Vet. Test. metrice (18S2); GIETMANN, De re Metrica Hebraeorum (1880); VETTER, Die Metrik des Buches Job (1897); BEER, Text des Buches Hiob untersucht (1897); ROGER, Eschatologie des Buches Job (1901); POSSELT, Der Verfasser der Eliureden (1909).

Joseph Hontheim.