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116 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All right, I'll give it five stars
. . . even though I'd like to deduct a star for its omissions.

As with so much of Stephen Mitchell's work, it's easy to pick on him for what he's decided to leave out. Here, his translation of Job omits the hymn in praise of Wisdom and the speech (in fact the entire presence) of the young man Elihu. I tend to disagree with his reasons for skipping them (yes,...
Published on May 25, 2001 by John S. Ryan

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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Off to a good start...
Contemporary translations of the book of Job are needed. Stephen Mitchell provides a good one. There are many passages where he translates in a very every-day even street language manner. He takes great liberty in translating some passages and in my opinion some passages have their meaning a bit distorted because of it. If you are used to reading a strict translation...
Published on November 25, 2003 by J. D Jones


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116 of 118 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All right, I'll give it five stars, May 25, 2001
This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
. . . even though I'd like to deduct a star for its omissions.

As with so much of Stephen Mitchell's work, it's easy to pick on him for what he's decided to leave out. Here, his translation of Job omits the hymn in praise of Wisdom and the speech (in fact the entire presence) of the young man Elihu. I tend to disagree with his reasons for skipping them (yes, yes, I know some scholars regard them as later additions). But having read his translation for nearly a decade now, I have to admit we don't miss them much.

His work has been described as "muscular," and that's a very apt term. Not only in Job's own language (from his "God damn the day I was born" to his closing near-silence after his experience of God) but in the voices of all the characters -- and most especially in the speech of the Voice from the Whirlwind -- Mitchell's meaty, pounding, pulse-quickening poetry just cries out to be read aloud.

And as always, I have nothing but praise for Mitchell's gift of "listening" his way into a text and saying what it "wants" to say. In particular, his translation of the final lines has a wee surprise in store for anyone who hasn't already read it. (He disagrees with the usual repent-in-dust-and-ashes version and offers a denouement more fitting to the cosmic scope of Job's subject matter.)

Moreover, all this and much else is discussed in a fine introduction that -- in my opinion as a longtime reader of Mitchell -- may well be his finest published commentary to date.

Essentially, he deals with the so-called "problem of evil" by simply dissolving it. The God of Mitchell and of Mitchell's Job is not a feckless little half-deity who shares his cosmic powers with a demonic arch-enemy and sometimes loses; this God, like the God of the Torah itself (and incidentally of Catholic and Calvinist Christianity, at both of which which Mitchell takes a couple of not-altogether-responsible swipes), is the only Power there is. Ultimately God just _does_ everything that happens, because what's the alternative? "Don't you know that there _is_ nobody else in here?"

As I suggested, there are a handful of half-hearted jabs at traditional (usually Christian) religion, but for the most part it should be possible for a theologically conservative reader simply to read around them. (This is a nice contrast with Mitchell's Jesus book, which -- to the mind of this non-Christian reviewer -- seems to be brimming with anti-Christian "spiritual oneupmanship.")

So it's not only a fine translation that properly recognizes Job's central theme of spiritual transformation, but a universally valuable commentary into the bargain. If you haven't read any of Mitchell's other work, this is a great place to start. And if you _have_ read some of Mitchell's other work, do get around to this one. It's probably his best.
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44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Glowing Book, October 24, 2000
By 
Shantonu (New York City) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
I first read the Book of Job in the New King James translation. That was a truly amazing event--I felt that somehow I had experienced what Job had, and that I was learned the same painful lessons that Job had. Great poems can do that.
I'm sure if I had read this version, it would have had the same effect.
Job essentially worships an idol. He worships an orderly God who runs an orderly, boring universe where the good get rewarded and the evil get punished. The real God shows him that things are a bit different. The universe is not simple, it is a grand, messy explosion of beauty where frail, innocent humans often get trampled. Is it just in a way that would conform to human standards of justice? God basically says, "Who cares, look at it."
Thus, a translator/poet has a tough job. In a few pages, he or she has to show the reader God's glorious universe. No easy task (except for G.M. Hopkins).
Mitchell gets it done with short "muscular" phrasing, reminscient of the way Lombardo treats the Iliad. I.e., Job ch 3 reads something like "Damn the day I was born/Blot out the sun of that day . . ." Along the way Mitchell eliminates some of the "interpolations" and "corruptions" that scholars have found were not part of the original text. And I don't think this detracts from either the beauty or the meaning of the poem.
I would have added a more detailed introduction however. If I may recommend a book, please also take a look at The Bitterness of Job: A Philosophical Reading, by John T. Wilcox. If you read these two together along with an orthodox translation like the JPS (mentioned in another review) or the NRSV, I think you will have a good grasp of this text from a wide variety of viewpoints, secular and religious. You can't get too much Job. As Victor Hugo said, "If I had to save one piece of literature in the world, I'd save Job."
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read Mitchell for color and intensity, not accuracy, December 25, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
Having just finished producing a staging of Mitchell's translation of the Book of Job, I can vouch for his superior translation of the intensity, color, and tempo of the book. His words are strong (sometimes stronger than the Hebrew), and his consistent three-beat-per-stress treatment lends audible poetic unity to a book that, in many translations, can seem a verbal mush. His essay isuseful for its esoteric parallels, and is enjoyable reading. Like the translation, though, the essay explains by simpliying the book.
This simplification is built of numerous omissions,reversals, rewordings, rearrangements, insertions. Often the poetry is simply his, not the text's. As Mitchell will occasionally note in his comments, he "improvised radically." Indeed.
So, use the Mitchell to lend color and tempo to your reading of a more accurate translation. (The new Jewish Publishing Society translation is excellent) Use Moshe Greenberg's essays, perhaps, to provide a sense of the complexity and depth of the book. If read alongside a more accurate translation, the Mitchell will prevent it from being dry -- no small thing. Let Mitchell help your hear the book, let another translation help you see it.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Off to a good start..., November 25, 2003
By 
J. D Jones (Roubaix France) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
Contemporary translations of the book of Job are needed. Stephen Mitchell provides a good one. There are many passages where he translates in a very every-day even street language manner. He takes great liberty in translating some passages and in my opinion some passages have their meaning a bit distorted because of it. If you are used to reading a strict translation of Job, this could be a good version to help give it real power and meaning but, I wouldn't recommend it to be the main translation of use by anyone who really wants to do a study on the book of Job.
Being a former student of Zen Buddhism myself, I reconnized many of the the ideas from Zen suddenly being imposed on the book of Job. He raises some good points, but in general I disagree with much of the interpretation he tries to write into the book. He also, in my opinion, misunderstands the purpose of the book by denouncing the prologue and epilogue as being mostly irrelevant to the theme of the book. Without the prologue and epilogue it is impossible to find any of the significant truths which the book was intended to convey.
It was a fun translation, the New Living Translation and the New International Version of the Bible also give good translations for those who really want to study it. Would have been better without the intro. by the translator. I also recommend the interpretation by Bob Sorge "Pain, Perplexity and Promotion" as an interesting and somewhat uplifting accompangiment.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Story is Timeless, October 13, 2000
This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
While Mitchell's own translation of the Book of Job is the central text of this book, I find the author's commentary to be of greatest value. Mitchell offers interpretations that transcend the limited notions proposed by Christianity. While a spirituality of piety predisposes one to read the prose and poetry of the bible in a certain way, Mitchell's eclectic and soaring viewpoint allows a perspective that encompasses the greater region of human existence. We are offered not a simple theology of submission to an all-powerful deity, but insights to the very the fundamental questions of who or what God is, what evil and suffering are.
The biblical Book of Job, or as I fondly call it, the myth of Job is probably the Christian world's quintessential story on suffering. It is no denying it dwells upon an awesome and moving existentialist theme. To anyone who has suffered (and who hasn't?) the story cannot fail to speak and address itself to. If we read intently we somehow lose ourselves in the story. We sympathize with Job. We recall our afflictions. We relive our losses. We become Job himself and cry with the Holocaust victims and all who suffer gravely: Why!?
Avivah Zornberg, professor of Judaism and author of "The Beginning of Desire", has said "We read stories that wound and stab us." We need to--to come to terms with reality. And Mitchell in his translation of the Job story has given us much to ponder once again. Yet in light of his compelling and enlightening prologue we 'see' God and suffering differently.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Did Mr. Mitchell Miss the Point? (A Jewish Perspective), February 1, 2007
By 
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This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
From a Jewish perspective, this is an ultimately flawed but wonderfully easy-to-read adaptation (rather than a straight translation) of Job (Iyov).

Be aware that some verses are moved from their places, Elihu's monolog is deleted entirely (understandable from an academic perspective but unthinkable from a Jewish one) and a key (perhaps "the" key) part of Job's epilogue is left out, deleting what is arguably the main point of the book:

Job was restored only when he prayed for his friends.

In the beginning, Job is essentially self-centered. At the end, Job prays for his friends and as a result, all is restored. In Mr. Mitchell's book this lesson doesn't exist.

For an elaboration on this theme, see Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's essay "Out of the Whirlwind" in his book by the same name (KTAV, 2003).
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why?, January 23, 2006
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This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
To meaningfully ask the question "why?" in a religious context, one must first be familiar with Job--there is simply nothing in scripture that approaches the question of human suffering with such detail. Sadly, Mr. Mitchell correctly notes that the original book is long gone--victimized by the mistakes of translators. Yet the story remains universal; any reader can sympathize with Job's dilemma.

Obviously any translator has choices to make and such choices will always present controversy. However, this translation is worthy of the work. The give and take of the conversation among Job and his friends is much more accessible in this format and the language rather more powerful. This work stands with other recent translations of familiar classics--his "Gilgamesh", Heaney's Beowulf, Fagles' versions of Homer, Pevear & Volokhonsky's Dostoevsky--it is Job in our language and with our cultural approach to language.

Sure, it isn't the original, but the power of Job lies in its story--the words are the icing on the cake, but such icing... Modern Christianity seems to have lost the fact that we did not spring forth as new creation at birth but that we were with God from the beginning. Mitchell demonstrates in this translation that God is quite clear; states God to Job, "Where is the road to light? Where does darkness live? . . . You know, since you have been there and are older than all creation." This context answers so many questions not the least of which is to explain that our sojourn on this earth is only a short test before we return to our Father. (And, yes, I'm reading the text literally.)

Mitchell's translation also demonstrates that the God of Job is neither vengeful nor cruel. Though Job is permitted to suffer at the hands of the accuser, this book is the story of Job's triumph. God knows Job perfectly and knew that Job's faith and understanding was sufficient to allow him to survive the experience. But why? Because Job can now forever state that he knows things that were formerly had on faith. Nothing comes without a price--if so, wouldn't God be unfair? Such are heavenly lessons, they teach us our own power and reveal the true desires of our hearts. For the day will come when, as did Job, we shall say "I had heard of you with my ears; but now my eyes have seen you."
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why?, June 6, 2001
This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
Job has a sudden change of fortune, he losses his health, wealth, family, and status. He addresses the question "Why?" Four human counselors --Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar-- (Elihu is not present in this translation) are unable to provide the insight Job desperately needs. It remains to Jehovah to address Job and let him know that he must trust in the goodness and power of God in adversity by enlarging his concept of God. Job is perhaps the earliest book of the Bible, author unknown. Set in the period of the patriarchs, the main character is a Gentile. Oddly enough, he has been personified as the virtue of patience, contrary to the Biblical Job who is angry to the point of blasphemy, and rightly demands justice.
This beautiful translation into English, directly from Hebrew, is to be praised for its sound, strong, energetic poetry and more so for its scholarly introduction. Mitchell's interpretation of the book of Job is not one of spiritual acquiescence, of capitulation to an unjust, superior force, but of a great poem of moral outrage, a Nietzchean protest. In it, Job embodies Everyman and grieves for all human misery, and acquiescence at the end of the poem is a result of spiritual transformation, a surrender into the light, the acceptance of a reality that transcends human understanding.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Incomplete, good translation of only two thirds of Job, December 13, 2012
This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
I like Stephen Mitchell. I highly reccomend his anthologies of sacred poetry and sacred prose, namely, ` The Enlightened Heart` and ` The Enlightened Mind`, as well as `The Gospel According To Jesus`, all of which I own and have reread. But this incomplete translation of Job, as well as his other book, an incomplete translation of Psalms, (which also is too loosely `translated` in parts, where in one biblical Psalm he uses the buddhist word, `boddisattavas`and the modern scientific terms, `quarks` and `quasars`) leave much to be desired. Not up to the highly inspirational quality of the first three books mentioned, which, again, I can`t reccomend more highly.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great work!, November 22, 1997
This review is from: The BOOK OF JOB (Paperback)
Mitchell's translation of The Book of Job is fascinating. Combined with his commentary, new light is shed on this biblical work that reveals its relevance in today's world. You don't have to be a biblical scholar to enjoy this work.
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The BOOK OF JOB
The BOOK OF JOB by Stephen Mitchell (Paperback - February 7, 2036)
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