The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1097 Thursday, 16 June 2005
From: John Reed <
Date: Thursday, 16 Jun 2005 07:15:09 +0000
Subject: Job (new thread)
Some of us were talking about King Lear and a comparison with Job was
made. I think the two stories are more similar than they appear at
first glance. I once copied the Book of Job out in longhand (but don't
worry, I wasn't fanatical enough to go back and count the number of
letter variants afterwards). One gets a different feeling for a text
after that kind of maneuver. The feeling I got was that there was more
than one author/copyist involved in producing Job (before me, I mean).
The story as we have it is some kind of composite, and the ending looks
wrong: it's too sentimental, and too, well, orthodox. For some reason I
have the feeling that's not what really happened.
It might have gone through a phase where it was a play; a regular play,
like a Greek play. If it did it would have had Speech Prefixes, which
could have been confused or misprinted, just as they occasionally seem
to be in Shakespeare (or rearranged in case it got rewritten by somebody
who couldn't swallow the "original" ending). There is one point where a
speech seems to be given to the wrong character; it's not that the
"prefix" (the designation) is wrong, it is ambiguous. But the common
interpretation doesn't look right. It's the part that goes, "Then the
Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said..." (38:1). Which lord
is it? Is it the Lord God, or is it the lord Satan? Job thinks it's
God, but Satan has wanted to be God all along, and maybe he's getting
his chance. Maybe God let's him be God-for-a-day, and gives him his
best subject (Job); let's see what happens. Whoever it is is bragging
about how powerful wonderful he is and how worthless Job is by contrast.
However, if it is Satan, Job has something Satan doesn't, despite
being the putrid little lump of flesh that he is: he's righteous. And
he doesn't rebel. Satan meanwhile, as it seems to me, proceeds to
destroy Job out of his own malice and wickedness. God, for his part,
doesn't have to say anything, the moral of the story being obvious.
Job, if he receives a reward (and we may be sure he does), receives it
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