« FöregåendeFortsätt »
who was the author, nor the time when it was written. Origen, in his work against Celsus (in the first ages of the Christian church), says, that the book of Job is older than Moses. Eben-Ezra, the Jewish commentator, whom (as I have before said) the bishop allows to have been a man of great erudition, and who certainly understood his own language, says, that the book of Job has been translated from another language into Hebrew. Spinosa, another Jewish commentator of great learning, confirms the opinion of Eben-Ezra, and says moreover, “ Je crois que Job etait Gentie ;"* I believe that Job was a Gentile.
The bishop (in his answer to me) says, " that the structure of the whole book of Job, in whatever light of history or drama it be considered, is founded on the belief that prevailed with the Persians and Chaldeans, and other Gentile nations, of a good and an evil spirit.”.
In speaking of the good and evil spirit of the Persians, the bishop writes them Arimanius and Oromasdes. I will not dispute about the orthography, because I know that translated names are differently spelled in different languages. But he has nevertheles3 made a capital error. He has put the devil first; for Arimanius, or, as it is more generally written, Ahriman, is the evil spirit, and Oromasdes, or Ormusd, the good spirit. He has made the same mistake, in the same paragraph, in speaking of the good and evil spirit of the ancient Egyptians, Osiris and Typho, he puts Typho before Osiris. The error is just the same as if the bishop, in writing about the Christian religion, or in preaching a sermon, were to say, the devil and God. A priest ought to know his own trade better, We agree, however, about the structure of the book of Job, that it is Gentile. I have said in the second part of the Age of Reason, and given my reasons for it, that the drama of it is not Hebrew.
From the testimonies I have cited—that of Origen, who, about fourteen hundred years ago, said that the book of Job was more ancient than Moses ; that of Eben-Ezra, who, in his commentary on Job, says, it has been translated from another language and consequently from a Gentile language) into Hebrew ; that of Spinosa, who not only says the same thing, but that the author of it was a Gentile; and that of the bishop, who says that the structure of the whole book is Gentileit follows, then, in the first place, that the book of Job is not a book of the Jews originally.
Then in order to determine to what people or nation any book of religion belongs, we must compare it with the leading dogmas and precepts of that people or nation; and therefore, upon the bishop's own construction, the book of Job belongs either to the ancient Persians, the Chaldeans, or the Egyptians; because the structure of it is consistent with the dogma they held, that of a good
the Ceremonies of the Jews, page 296, published in French at Amsterdam, 1678.
and evil spirit, called in Job God and Satan, existing as distinct and separate beings, and it is not consistent with any dogma of the Jew.s.
The belief of a good and an evil spirit, existing as distinct and separate beings, is not a dogma to be found in any of the books of the Bible. It is not till we come to the New Testament that we hear of any such dogma. There the person called the son of God holds conversation with Satan on a mountain, as familiarly as is represented in the drama of Job. Consequently the bishop cannot say, in this respect, that the New Testament is founded upon the old. According to the Old, the God of the Jews was the God of every thing. All good and all evil came from him. According to Exodus it was God, and not the devil, that hardened Pharaoh's heart. According to the book of Samuel it was an evil spirit from God that troubled Saul. And Ezekiel makes God to say, in speaking of the Jews, “I gave them statutes that were not good, and judgments by which they should not live.” The Bible describes the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in such a contradictory manner, and under such a two-fold character, there would be no knowing when he was in earnest, and when in irony; when to believe, and when not. As to the precepts, principles, and maxims, in the book of Job, they shew that the people, abusively called the heathen in the books of the Jews, had the most sublime ideas of the Creator, and the most exalted devotional morality. It was the Jews who dishonoured God: it was the Gentiles who glorified him. As to the fabulous personifications introduced by the Greek and Latin poets, it was a corruption of the ancient religion of the Gentiles, which consisted in the adoration of a first cause of the works of the creation, in wbich the sun was the great visible agent.
It appears to have been a religion of gratitude and adoration, and not of prayer and discontented solicitation. In Job we find adoration and submission, but not prayer. Even the ten commandments enjoin not prayer. Prayer has been added to devotion, by the church of Rome, as the instrument of fees and perquisites. All prayers by the priests of the Christian church, whether public or private, must be paid for. It may be right, individually, to pray for virtues, or mental instruction, but not for things. It is an attempt to dictate to the Almighty in the government of the world. But to return to the book of Job.
As the book of Job decides itself to be a book of the Gentiles, the next thing is to find out to what particular nation it belongs, and, lastly, what is its antiquity.
As a composition, it is sublime, beautiful, and scientific: full of sentiment, and abounding in grand metaphorical description. As a drama, it is regular. The dramatis personæ, the persons performing the several parts, are regularly introduced, and speak without interruption or confusion. The scene, as I have before
said, is laid in the country of the Gentiles, and the unities, though not always necessary in a drama, are observed here as strictly as the subject would admit.
In the last act, where the Almighty is introduced as speaking from the whirlwind to decide the controversy between Job and his friends, it is an idea as grand as poetical imagination can conceive. What follows of Job's future prosperity does not belong to it as a drama. It is an epilogue of the writer, as the first' verses of the first chapter, which gave an account of Job, his country and his riches, are the prologue.
The book carries the appearance of being the work of some of the Persian magi, not only because the structure of it corresponds to the dogmas of the religion of those people, as founded by Zoroaster, but from the astronomical references in it to the constellations of the Zodiac and other objects in the heavens, of which the sun, in their religion called Mithra, was the chief. Job, in describing the power of God (Job, chap. ix., ver. 7, 8, 9), says, “ Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not, and sealeth up the stars—which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea—which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and Pleiades, and the chambers of the south.” All this astronomical allusion is consistent with the religion of the Persians.
Establishing then the book of Job as the work of some of the Persian or Eastern magi, the case naturally follows, that when the Jews returned from captivity, by the permission of Cyrus, king of Persia, they brought this book with them, had it translated into Hebrew, and put into their scriptural canons, which were not formed till after their return. This will account for the name of Job being mentioned in Ezekiel (Ezekiel, chap. xiv., v. 14), who was one of the captives, and also for its not being mentioned in any book said or supposed to have been written before the captivity.
Among the astronomical allusions in the book, there is one which serves to fix its antiquity. It is that where God is made to say to Job, in the style of reprimand, “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades,” (chap. xxxviii., ver. 31.) As the explanation of this depends upon astronomical calculation, I will, for the sake of those who would not otherwise understand it, endeavour to explain it as clearly as the subject will admit.
The Pleiades are a cluster of pale, milky stars, about the size of a man's hand, in the constellation Taurus, or, in English, the Bull. It is one of the constellations of the zodiac, of which there are twelve, answering to the twelve months of the year. The Pleiades are visible in the winter nights, but not in the summer nights, being then below the horizon.
The zodiac is an imaginary belt or circle in the heavens, eighteen degrees broad, in which the sun apparently makes his annual course, and in which all the planets When the sun appears
to our view to be between us and a group of stars forming such or such a constellation, he is said to be in that constellation. Con. sequently the constellations he appears to be in, in the summer, are directly opposite to those he appeared in, in the winter, and the same with respect to spring and autumn.
The zodiac, besides being divided into twelve constellations, is also, like every other circle, great or small, divided into 360 equal parts, called degrees ; consequently each constellation contains 30 degrees. The constellations of the zodiac are generally called signs, to distinguish them from the constellations that are placed out of the zodiac, and this is the name I shall now use.
The procession of the equinoxes is the part most difficult to explain, and it is on this that the explanation chiefly depends. The equinoxes correspond to the two seasons of the year
wher the sun makes equal day and night.
J. Watson, 3, Queen's Head Passage, Paternoster Row.