Testament of Job

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Jacob Jordaens - Abraham Grapheus as Job

The Testament of Job is a book written in the 1st century BC or the 1st century AD (thus part of a tradition often called "intertestamental literature" by Christian scholars). The earliest surviving manuscript is in Coptic, of the 5th century; other early surviving manuscripts are in Greek and Old Slavonic.

In folktale manner in the style of Jewish aggada [1], it elaborates upon the Book of Job making Job a king in Egypt. Like many other Testament of ... works in the Old Testament apocrypha, it gives the narrative a framing-tale of Job's last illness, in which he calls together his sons and daughters to give them his final instructions and exhortations. The Testament of Job contains all the characters familiar in the Book of Job, with a more prominent role for Job's wife, given the name Sitidos, and many parallels to Christian beliefs that Christian readers find, such as intercession with God and forgiveness.

Unlike the Biblical Book of Job, Satan's vindictiveness towards Job is described in the Testament as being due to Job destroying a non-Jewish temple, indeed Satan is described in a far more villainous light, than simply being a prosecuting counsel. Job is equally portrayed differently; Satan is shown to directly attack Job, but fail each time due to Job's willingness to be patient, unlike the Biblical narrative where Job falls victim but retains faith.

The latter section of the work, dedicated like the Biblical text to Job's comforters, deviates even further from the Biblical narrative. Rather than complaining or challenging God, Job consistently asserts his faith despite the laments of his comforters. While one of the comforters gives up, and the others try to get him medical treatment, Job insists his faith is true, and eventually the voice of God tells the comforters to stop their behaviour. When most of the comforters choose to listen to God's voice, they decide to taunt the one remaining individual who still laments Job's fate.

Unlike many Testament of .... works, there is little concentration on ethical discourses, instead the text concentrates on delivering narrative, as well as embedding a noticeably large number of hymns. It is also noticeably less misogynist than many other early apocryphal texts. It has consequently been suggested that the work originates amongst an Egyptian sect of Judaism known as the Therapeutae, that took an ascetic outlook and had a theology heavily involving mysticism.

A tendency to mysticism in the text can be more clearly seen in a passage concerning multicoloured cords for women to put around their breasts to enable them to sing in the language of the angels. Some say this is an early example of speaking in tongues, though it is not prevalent amongst the Therapeutae. The assertion has been made that the ecstatic speech of the Montanists (a later Christian sect), was another example of tongues. This has led several scholars to suggest that the Montanists may have edited parts of the Testament of Job, adding sections such as these.

At the end of the 5th century, the Testament of Job was relegated to the apocrypha by the decree associated with Pope Gelasius, concerning canonical and noncanonical books. Subsequently the Testament of Job was ignored by Roman Catholic writers, until it was published in 1833 in the series edited by Angelo Mai (Scriptorum Veterum Nova Collectio vol. vii pp. 180–191). Mai's manuscript had a double title: "Testament of Job the Blameless, the Conqueror in Many Contests, the Sainted" (which seems to be the older title) and "The Book of Job Called Jobab, and His Life, and the Transcript of His Testament."

A bilingual Greek and English edition, edited by Robert A. Kraft, was issued in New York by the Society of Biblical Literature in 1974 with ISBN 0-88414-044-X.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • R. P. Spittler, Outside the Old Testament,
  • Robert A. Kraft (ed.), Testament of Job. Missoula, Montana: Scholars Press for the Society of Biblical Literature, 1974 (Texts and Translations 5: Pseudepigrapha Series 3).
  • R. P. Spittler, "Testament of Job", in: J. H. Charlesworth, editor, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, volume I Garden City, New York etc.: Doubleday, 1983.
  • Raymond F. Surburg, Introduction to the Intertestamental Period,
  • Jan Dochhorn, "Das Testament Hiobs als Produkt narrativer Exegese. Eine Studie zur Wirkungsgeschichte des griechischen und hebräischen Hiobbuchs," in Wolfgang Kraus & Martin Karrer in collaboration with Martin Meiser (ed.), Die Septuaginta - Texte, Theologien, Einflüsse. 2. Internationale Fachtagung veranstaltet von Septuaginta Deutsch (LXX.D), Wuppertal 23.-27. Juli 2008 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010) (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament (WUNT I), 252).

External links[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.jobthefilm.com/