Maria Haralambakis

Postdoctoral Fellow, PhD University of Manchester, United Kingdom

The Fate of the Poetry and Prose in the Reception of Literature about Job

  • Summary/Abstract

    Translation, and in the broader sense, meditation are important concepts in the study of the development of legends and other text to do with the figure of Job. It has been argued that ancient Near Eastern (Babylonian, Sumerian and Egyptian) righteous sufferer motifs have been ‘translated’ into the figure of Job in the Hebrew Bible, and this figure then finds himself ‘translated’ again in the Hellenistic Jewish milieus of the Septuagint version of the Book of Job, and of a different composition about Job, the Testament of Job. This composition differs significantly from the earlier traditions, as it is a narrative rather than (mainly) a poetic philosophical treatise, and the theme of the righteous sufferer is almost absent. The Testament of Job is better viewed as an independent composition about Job, rather than as a ‘translation’ (commentary, interpretation) of the Book of Job. Being aware of these wider issues, this paper will zoom in on the Testament of Job as a text in translation. While earlier scholars advocated the view that there was a Semitic (Hebrew or Aramaic) original, this view has now been abandoned in favour of the thesis that this composition was composed in Greek, probably in a Hellenistic Jewish milieu. Later this story was adopted by Christians and translated first in Coptic and later in Slavonic, and the Greek text also continued to be copied and adjusted in Byzantine Christian contexts. This paper will examine some of the differences between these three translations and try to come to an understanding of the nature of each the existing versions of the Testament of Job as a translation from the now lost original.

A Tale about Job in Manuscript 747 of the National Library of Sofia

  • Summary/Abstract

    This article introduces manuscript 747 of the National Library of Sofia and focuses especially on the Tale about Job in this codex, the text of which has also been published. The physical description of the manuscript and the examination of its contents supplement the information provided in Conev’s catalogue. Manuscript 747 contains the end of the Life of Alexius (1a-1b), a Tale about Job (complete; 1b-4b), part of the Passion of Charalampius (4b-12b), half a page of a narrative about Alexander the Great (13a), the Life of Alexius (complete; 13a-25b) and Rites and Prayers for the Liturgy (incomplete; 27a-34b). After the introduction of the codex as a whole, this article provides a preliminary study of the Tale about Job. This Tale has been compared with the prose frame of the Book of Job in the witnesses presented verse by verse by Hristova-Šomova. It seems closest to the text of the Ostrog Bible. Divergences of the Tale about Job from the prose frame of the Book of Job include the title, part of the first line, a few words throughout the composition and (especially) frequent omissions. This raises the issue of how much divergence is needed for a composition to be recognised as a different creation, rather than as a version of an existing composition. It has been proposed that the Tale of Job can still be described as a version of the prose frame of the Book of Job. The suggestion can be made that it represents a fifth way in which (part of) the Book of Job circulated in the Slavonic Middle Ages. Besides the versions mentioned by Hristova-Šomova (Paramejnik lessons, and four different versions of the full biblical Book (with and without commentaries)), this article has developed the argument that the Tale about Job from manuscript 747 of the National Library of Sofia represents a version of the prose frame of the Book of Job which circulated as a didactic story.

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