What Translation(s) do you Suggest for Reading the Book of Job?

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
Greetings, fellow sufferers for the kingdom of God,

To anyone who has read many of my posts, you may have noticed that I talk a lot about the joy of the Lord, the victory of Jesus over the world, revival, and things in my life that have humbled me at least somewhat, and the like.

But I post less of the difficult Providences my wife and I have experienced. Mary and I, like some of you, have gone through "many dangers, toils, and snares." Or, in more modern terms, I could say, "What a long strange trip it's been."

I'm handling things better than my wife, but some long-standing difficulties tempt us to a melancholy spirit. Here's just one example that I will not go into detail about to show you the type of trial I am talking about.

Jamie, our firstborn son, was a brilliant and promising Christian young man. But, according to God's Providence, he ended up in a pseudo-Christian cult. Influenced by a man--if you can believe it--that I introduced him to. Man, oh man, has my wife struggled with that. Moving quickly up to today, we have not seen him in 22 years. I'll leave it to your imagination to fill in the blanks. There are also several additional difficulties I won't mention.

All that to say this. My wife and I are about to start a protracted, and I hope therapeutic, study of the Book of Job. I'm talking about something that could last up to a year. We plan to read cover to cover the nearly 500-page commentary by Christopher Ash, titled, The Wisdom of the Cross. I completed the commentary about a year ago, and I highly recommend it.

So, what are the best translations to use for such a study? Of course, I love the King James Version's poetic way, which goes so nicely with the nearly 100% poetic style of the book Job. But when I went through it, I used the ESV.

What and why are your suggestions for us?

Thanks,

Ed
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I'd be interested to hear from a Hebrew scholar, but my understanding is there are some ambiguities in the Hebrew that are not handled as well with Job by the older translators like of the KJV. If I were to do an in-depth study I'd probably start with the NET with full translator's notes to see explained why they picked certain translations.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I'd be interested to hear from a Hebrew scholar, but my understanding is there are some ambiguities in the Hebrew that are not handled as well with Job by the older translators like of the KJV. If I were to do an in-depth study I'd probably start with the NET with full translator's notes to see explained why they picked certain translations.

That is correct. See how they handle the Leviathan translation early in the book.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I think it is good to have a couple different translations you use, some more high style, some more accessible. I like the CSB, ESV, and KJV as a combo to study Job. Maybe add something like the REB or its earlier version the NEB. The British typically get poetry right.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
There aren't a lot of text critical issues of the kind that might be relevant in the NT. However, the Hebrew of Job is notoriously difficult, and modern translations do have some advantages over older translations like the KJV through access to cognate languages like Akkadian and Ugaritic. That doesn't seem to be the issue in Job 3:8, where the Septuagint and Vulgate clearly recognize the word as "Leviathan", an option also acknowledged by Matthew Henry. I'm not sure why KJV went in a different direction here, when it gives Leviathan in 41:1. In both cases, it is following the Geneva Bible.

I wouldn't worry too much about such nuances if you are reading Ash's commentary alongside the text, however; I think he will give you whatever technical details you need (probably not that many), along with his helpful exposition. I would just choose whichever English translation you are most comfortable with.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I read through Job recently in the NLT and was greatly helped by it. This is probably not a popular opinion, but I think the NLT is a fantastic translation for comprehension. And, in some cases, it actually catches and communicates nuance that more formal translations might not.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Robert Alter's translation of Job is very stirring. I sometimes roll my eyes at the notes, but the text itself is tremendously engaging.
 

Jake

Puritan Board Senior
I read through Job recently in the NLT and was greatly helped by it. This is probably not a popular opinion, but I think the NLT is a fantastic translation for comprehension. And, in some cases, it actually catches and communicates nuance that more formal translations might not.
NLT does a very good job with the wisdom literature. I taught a Sunday School class on Proverbs and often used the NLT to help bring out the meaning of the text. The NIV is also quite good for Job for general reading.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I wouldn't worry too much about such nuances if you are reading Ash's commentary alongside the text, however; I think he will give you whatever technical details you need (probably not that many), along with his helpful exposition. I would just choose whichever English translation you are most comfortable with

Thanks for the advice. This will be my second cover-to-cover reading of Ash in about a year and a half. He was that helpful to me.

I've been reading through a number of the preaching the word series commentaries. That's just the style for me. It might be ambitious, but I hope to read most of them. I've gotten through about 6 or 7 so far.

Ed
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Robert Alter's translation of Job is very stirring. I sometimes roll my eyes at the notes, but the text itself is tremendously engaging.

That's my impression of him, too. I think he is better on prose than poetry, but some of his poetical renderings are good.
 

jw

j
For devotional use, I like the AV, but for serious study, I go with the AV. Family Worship it's AV, but -at church- we use the AV. AV is also good.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Junior
Wow I had missed that. My "favorite" KJV odd translation of a word is "greyhound" in Proverbs 30:31.
Greyhound is far from impossible in Prov 30:31: It is clearly an animal with royal bearing, and greyhounds were bred in Egypt from as early as 2200 BC. The Jewish JPS translation (and NJPS) also opt for greyhound. The Hebrew is literally "one who is girt in the loins", which might suggest the narrow waist (and/or speed) of a greyhound. The Targum goes with a strutting rooster, which also fits contextually, and which most modern translations have gone for. Identifying specific animals/birds/gemstones in the Bible is notoriously difficult.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
While the AV is my basic Bible, I use a number of translations to glean further light on admittedly difficult parts. When preaching on it a decade or more ago, I found William Henry Green's short paperback, Conflict and Triumph: The Argument of the Book of Job Unfolded, very helpful. I also had a number of commentaries to help.

Ed, as much as I'd like to get Ash's, The Wisdom of the Cross, I am reluctant, seeing as I may not preach on it again, and I don't know how much time I have left anyway. Were I younger, I would no doubt get it.
 

pmachapman

Puritan Board Freshman
I recommend the translation of Job in the ESV - I once met Dr Bill Barrick who translated it, and his knowledge of Hebrew and other Semetic languages is phenomenal, and this shows in his translation.

I commented to him that Job was revised the least of any book of its size in the ESV (I have an ESV Bible where I have highlighted every single change in every revision), which to me is a good sign of the calibre of the translation.

I still have a soft spot for Job in the AV, however, which won't be shaken soon!
 
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