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The Book of Job [Kindle Edition]

Stephen Mitchell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $12.99
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Book Description

The theme of The Book of Job is nothing less than human suffering and the transcendence of it: it pulses with moral energy, outrage, and spiritual insight.

Now, The Book of Job has been rendered into English by the eminent translator and scholar Stephen Mitchell, whose versions of Rilke, Israeli poetry, and the Tao Te Ching have been widely praised. This is the first time ever that the Hebrew verse of Job has been translated into verse in any language, ancient or modern, and the result is a triumph.



Editorial Reviews

Review

"Entralling." -- --George Steiner, The New Yorker

"The thoughtful reading of this astonishing translation has been for me a rare experience combining poetry and enlightment." -- --Erik H. Erikson

About the Author

Stephen Mitchell's many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, Gilgamesh, and The Second Book of the Tao, as well as The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, The Gospel According to Jesus, Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Job, and Meetings with the Archangel.


Product Details


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
117 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All right, I'll give it five stars May 25, 2001
Format: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.
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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
Format: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
Format: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
Format: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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars LISTEN TO THE BOOK
A wonderful rewrite of this grand story! As a Bible teacher for over 35 years, I should act shocked by the changes, omissions, and emendations but Mr. Read more
Published 1 month ago by KT
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent writings about an ancient story.
Published 1 month ago by bayou ben
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable translation of a traditional text.
If you want to understand the context and message of the Book of Job, this is the single finest
translation from the Hebrew into English.
Published 6 months ago by Frequent Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterful study
Mitchell has a mind that brings new insight to a very complicated story. I had searched for the book a long time before I found it so I was very pleased that I was able to read... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Vicky Ogle Reinhart
4.0 out of 5 stars May be troubling for the superficial believer
I get the impression the author is more of a seeker than a believer. Consider this a challenge to believers to read this book, especially every word of the introduction. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Elizabeth Hypes
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book!
I read this book for my Philosophy of Religion course in College. It has the whole Book of Job text, along with some commentary and insight by the author. I recommend it!
Published 9 months ago by Mpr90
4.0 out of 5 stars Read Job in your Bible? Now read this.
This is a fascinating new way of seeing and recounting and describing the Book of Job. Thanks to Stephen Mitchell.
Published 15 months ago by Douglas Gates
5.0 out of 5 stars Good
I was very pleased and satisfid about the purchase that i made, i will definitely do business again.Overall happy about the product.
Published 15 months ago by sally80
4.0 out of 5 stars Mitchell has developed a good technique of explaining and then...
Would recommend this book to anyone who has a general interesting in ancient literature. God has given Job a lot of greif and in the end brings a degree of peace to him.
Published 17 months ago by John Clark
4.0 out of 5 stars Abridged but Adequate
This is an abridged and very "loose" translation that preserves most of the story, and presents in a clearly-written manner. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Steven
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More About the Author

Stephen Mitchell was born in Brooklyn in 1943, educated at Amherst, the Sorbonne, and Yale, and de-educated through intensive Zen practice. His many books include the bestselling Tao Te Ching, The Gospel According to Jesus, Bhagavad Gita, The Book of Job, Meetings with the Archangel, Gilgamesh, The Second Book of the Tao, and the Iliad. When he is not writing, he likes to (in no particular order) think about writing, think about not writing, not think about writing, and not think about not writing. He is married to Byron Katie and cowrote two of her bestselling books: Loving What Is and A Thousand Names for Joy. You can read extensive excerpts from all his books on his website, www.stephenmitchellbooks.com.

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