What Bible be this?
September 29, 2008 4:34 PM   Subscribe

I am searching for the translation of the Bible in which the Book of Job 14:12 is rendered thus.....

"Man, that is born of woman,
Is of few days and full of trouble.
Like a blossom he comes forth and is withered,
And he flees like the shadow and does not endure.
And he wastes away like a rotten thing,
Like a garment which the moth has eaten.
Yet upon such an one thou openest thine eye,
And bringest me into judgment with thyself.
O that there were a pure one among
the impure! There is not one.
If his days are decreed,
and the number of his months is with thee;
If thou hast established his bounds so that he may not pass over,
Look away from him that he may cease,
Until he enjoy, like a hireling, his day.

For there is hope for the tree;
If it be cut down, then it will sprout again,
And its shoots will not cease.
If its root becomes old in the ground,
And its trunk dies in the soil,
At the scent of water it will bud,
And put forth shoots like a young plant.
But man dies, and is powerless.
And man expires, and where is he?
Water departs from the lake,
And a stream parches and dries up;
So man lies down and does not rise.
Until the heavens are no more they will not awake,
Nor will they be roused from their sleep.
O that thou wouldst hide me in Sheol,
That thou wouldst conceal me until thy wrath turn,
That thou wouldst set me a time and remember me!
If a man dies, does he live?
All the days of my service I would wait
Until my turn should come;
Thou wouldst call and I would answer thee;
Thou wouldst yearn for the work of thy hands.
But now thou dost number my steps;
Dost thou not watch over my sin?
My transgression is sealed up in a bag,
And thou dost plaster over my guilt.
But if a mountain falls, it crumbles away;
And a rock moves from its place;
Water wears away stones;
Its torrent sweeps away the soil of the earth;
So thou destroyest the hope of man.
Thou dost overpower him forever and he passes on;
Thou dost change his looks and send him away.
His children come to honor, but he does not know it;
And they sink into insignificance, but he does not perceive them.
But he grieves over himself,
And he mourns over himself."

The poetry of this translation (this chapter was Xerox'd to me years ago) exceeds in my opinion that of others. As I wish to be more familiar with the Bible as a work of literature, I'd like to read it in this form. Anyone know?
posted by bukharin to Religion & Philosophy (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It isn't any of the more common ones, that I can tell. It makes me wonder if it's a personal translation?
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:49 PM on September 29, 2008

Yeah, it's definitely not a major translation if it is one at all. It looks to be a paraphrasing of a mish-mash of other translations. It has some very contemporary language and then slips back into some very King James-type stuff. Probably just a one-off interpretation by some random dude.
posted by joshrholloway at 5:11 PM on September 29, 2008

You could try searching www.youversion.com, as they have a number of different translations of the Bible available. ebible.com does too, but you might have to register first.
posted by estherbester at 5:18 PM on September 29, 2008

For the record, YouVersion was my source in saying it wasn't a major translation.
posted by joshrholloway at 5:20 PM on September 29, 2008

You've got quite an interesting thing there, but I believe SpacemanStix is correct: that isn't any formally published translation.

Here's the thing. The two lines you've got that start "And he wastes away like a rotten thing" are actually found in Job 13. Some minority translators pull those lines from 13 and stick them in 14 because they thought it fit better. Look here for an example. Apparently somebody who knows a lot more about the Hebrew language than I do still thinks this shift is appropriate, but I've got no real dog in that fight. Anyways, every single published English translation (you can go through the whole list here), including the Jewish Publication Society's English translation of Job doesn't have it that way. When the Jewish, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant translators agree about a point in the old testament, I think it's pretty safe to say that it's beyond question.

What this says to me is that someone sent you a translation they or someone they knew did from an original text, and given the versification, did some extra work on it. You're right: it does read very well. Unfortunately, you won't find any more of that unless you know who gave it to you and where you got it. Fortunately, as the translation isn't entirely accurate, and as it doesn't seem to come from any of the more influential translations, you don't lose anything on the Bible-as-literature front.
posted by valkyryn at 5:36 PM on September 29, 2008

That was quick, thank you.
The strange thing is, I clearly remember the Xerox being from what appeared to be a published translation of the Bible, in verse format, looking fairly authentic as such, and I believe I transcribed it accurately then.

In that case, can anyone recommend a translation which serves me for Bible-as-literature?
posted by bukharin at 5:59 PM on September 29, 2008

It's hard to avoid the King James if literature is what you're looking for. I wouldn't do any serious theological studies with it, as we've got much better ancient texts now and early modern English is different enough from what we use to make understanding actually kind of hard. But for cultural studies it's all-but-canonical, and its influence is impossible to overestimate. For about 400 years, if someone was reading the Bible in English, odds were pretty good they were using the KJV. There were other English translations, the Geneva comes to mind, but until the 20th century the other translations were of largely academic interest, if that. If you pick up an English Bible today that isn't the KJV, odds are the translation dates after 1950.

For more contemporary reading, try the English Standard Version (ESV). Quite recent, quite accurate, and quite readable. Doesn't have the same archaic elegance as the KJV, but 16th-century English really is tough going sometimes, particularly if the writer isn't Shakespeare. I assure you: the translators weren't Shakespeare.
posted by valkyryn at 6:34 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

You might try the New Jerusalem Bible. I find it lovely, and quite moving in a poetic way. Here is the New Jerusalem version of Job 14.
posted by donnagirl at 7:43 PM on September 29, 2008

You say that it looked like it was a Xerox from a published version? I was going to recommend Chapters into Verse as the source, but Google's preview shows only one poem based on Job 14, George Herbert's "Grace," which this is not. I can now only recommend the collection with respect to your desire to read the Bible as literature. Atwan and Wieder, editors. David Curzon also collected Modern Poets on the Bible, but that does not have the passage above.

David Rosenberg did several Hebrew translations, collected in A Poet's Bible (1991). His translation of Job was published as Job Speaks in 1977.
posted by gentilknight at 1:30 AM on September 30, 2008

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