Sunday, November 15, 2009

The last chapter of Job

I was unable to sleep last night so I got up and read the end of James Crenshaw Defending God where he deals with Job 42:6 and gives 5 choices:

  1. Therefore I despise myself and repent upon dust and ashes
  2. Therefore I retract my words and repent of dust and ashes
  3. Therefore I reject and forswear dust and ashes
  4. Therefore I retract my words and have changed my mind concerning dust and ashes
  5. Therefore I retract my words and I am comforted concerning dust and ashes.
My stark translation is
therefore I refuse and I am comforted in dust and ashes

Refuse what? How about refuse the role of being his own referee? At least that is what I take as one 'meaning' where we have a verb with a missing direct object. In a sense that is refusing 'his words' - but not really for he has spoken what was prepared for him to speak (this is expressed negatively in verse 8).

for you have not spoken of me what is prepared as has my servant Job

I am pleased to see that my passive turn of phrase is acceptable at least by some. If not the passive "I am comforted" then the active "I sigh" in dust and ashes, groaning inwardly, as it were, for the ultimate consummation of the love of God which Job so accurately intimates in several of his speeches. In this Job uses God's word for repentance in full human terms. Here he anticipates the Incarnation. Wei Heisen in a rare post reflects on the words at Jesus' baptism. This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:13 and parallels) Here is an act for which Hashem has no cause for sighing or repentance. Henceforth the word for repentance 'nacham' will be translated into the Greek as Comforter who will do the work of the Spirit where God's jealous love devouring all the earth (to paraphrase Zephaniah 3:8) will have been and will be accomplished and where this temple builder (whom the second temple builder, Nehemiah, anticipates) will have built and builds us now as living stones into a holy temple.

Joel Hoffman of God Didn't Say That has a lovely phrase about translation in his recent post here.
At any rate, my suggestion is to pick a phrase that’s likely to be accurate, capitalize it, and hope for the best.
I don't need capitals here but I can capitalize on what I have already done with the words. The Micawber approach to translation wins again.

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