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Nor does such idea of this truly divine Composition at all detract from the proofs we have of the real existence of this holy Patriarch, or of the truth of his exemplary Story. On the contrary, it much confirms them: seeing it was the general practice of dramatic Writers, of the serious kind, to chuse an illustrious Character or celebrated Adventure for the subject of the Piece, in order to give their poem its due dignity and weight. And yet, which is very surprising, the Writers on both sides, as well those who suppose the Book of Job to be dramatical, as those who hold it to be historical, have fallen into this paralogism, That, if dramatical, then the Person and History of Job are fictitious. Which nothing but inattention to the nature of a drainatic Work, and to the practice of dramatic Writers, could have occasioned. Lactantius had a much better idea of this species of composition: “ Totum autem, quod referas, fingere, id est, ineptum
esse, et Mendacem potius quam Poetam.”
But this fallacy is not of late standing. Maimonides, where he speaks of those whose opinion he seems to incline to, that say the book of Job is parabolical, expresses himself in this manner * You know there are certain men who say, that such a man as JOB never existed. And that his history is nothing else but a parable. These certain men were (we know) the Talmudists. Now, as, by his History, he means this book of Job, it is evident he supposed the fabulosity of the book concluded against the existence of the Patriarch. Nay, so insensibly does this inve- , terate fallacy insinuate itself into our reasonings on this subject, that even GROTIUS himself appears not to be quite free from the entanglement. Who, al
* Nósti quosdam esse, qui dicunt Jobum nunquam fuisse, neque creatum esse; sed HISTORIA M illius nihil aliud esse quàm Parabolam, VOL. V.
though he saw these two things (a real Job and a dramatic representation of him) so reconcilable, that he supposed both; yet will not allow the book of Job to be later than Ezekiel, because that Prophet mentions Job *. Which argument, to have any strength, must suppose Job to be unknown until this Book was written; consequently that his Person was fictitious; contrary to his own supposition, that there was a real Job living in the time of Moses f. After this, it is no wonder, that the Author of the Archeologiæ Philosophicæ, whose talent was not critical acumen, should have reasoned so grossly on the same fallacious principle 5. These learned men, we sec, would infer a visionary Job from a visionary History. Nor is the mistake of another celebrated Writer less gross, who would, on the contrary, infer a real bistory from a real Job. Ezekiel and St. Jumes (says Dr. Middleton, in his Essay on the Creation and Fall of Man) refer ta thç BOOK OF Job in the same manner as if it were a rcal history. Whereas the truth is, they do not refer to the BOOK OF JOB at all.
II. The second question to be considered, is in what Age this book was composed.
1. First then we say in general, that it was written some time under the Mosaic Dispensation. But to this it is objected, that, if it were composed in those Times, it is very strange that not a single word of the Mosaic Lawy, nor any distant allusion to the Rites or Ceremonies of it, nor any historical circumstance under it, nor any species of idolatry in use during its period, should be found in it ş.
* Chap. xiv. ver. 14: + Vid. Grotii Præf. in Librum Job. I See note [l] at the end of this volume.
και Jobus Arabs πολικλειτος και πολυμαθής, in cujus historia multa occurrunt antiquæ sapientiæ vestigia, antiquior habetur Mose. Idque multis patet indiciis : Primo, quòd nullibi meminerit rerum
I apprehend the objection rests on one or other of these suppositions, Either that the book is not a Work of the dramatic kind; or that the Hero of the Piece is fictitious. But both these suppositions have been shewn to be erroneous; so that the objection falls with them. For to observe DECORUM is one of the most essential rules of dramatic writing. He therefore who takes a real Personage for the subject of his poem will be obliged to shew him in the customs and sentiments of his proper Age and Country; unmixed with the manners of the Writer's later Time and Place. Nature and the reason of the thing so evidently demand this conduct, and the neglect of it has so ungracious an effect, that the polite Roman Historian thought the Greek tragic Writers were to blame even for mentioning the more modern name of Thessaly, in their pieces of the Trojan War. And he gives this good reason for his censure, Nihil enim ex Persona Poëta, sed omnia sub eorum, qui illo tempore vixerunt, daverunt *
But to lay no greater stress on this argument than it will bear; I confess ingenuously, that were there not (as the objection supposes) the least distant relation or allusion to the Jewish Law or History throughout the whole book, it might reasonably create some suspicion that the Author lived before those times. For
though à Mose gestarum, sive in Ægypte, sive in exitu, sive in deserto. Secundo, quòd, cùm vir pius & veri numinis cultor fuerit, leyi Mosaicæ contraiyerit, in sacrificiis faciendis.--Tertio, ex ætatis & vitæ suæ mensura, in tertio, plus minus, à Diluvio sxculo collocandus esse videtur: yixit enim ultra ducentos annos.-Cùm de Idololatria loquitur, memorat primum ipsius genus Solis & Lunæ adorationem.--Neque Sabbathi neque ullius legis factitiæ meminit.-His omnibus adducor ut credam, Mosi Jobum tempore anteisse. Archæol. Philos. pp. 265, 266. See note [K] at the end of this volume
though this rule of decorum be so essential to dramatic writing, yet, as the greatest Masters in that art frequently betrayed their own Times and Country in their fictitious Works *, we can hardly suppose a Jewish Writer more exact in what only concerned the critical perfection of his Piece. But as DECORUM is one of the plainest and simplest principles of Composition, we cannot suppose a good writer ignorant of it; and so are not to look for such glaring absurdities as are to be found in the dramatic writings of late barbarous ages; but such only as might easily escape the most exact and best instructed Writer.
Some slight indecorums therefore we may reason ably expect to find, if the Author were indeed a Jew; and such, if I am not much mistaken, we shall find. Job, speaking of the wicked man, says, He that speaketh flattery to his friends
, even the eyes of his children shall failt-Gop layeth up iniquity for his children I. And in the course of the dispute, and in the heat of altercation, this peculiar dispensation is touched upon yet inore precisely. Job, in support of his doctrine, paints at large the happy condition of prosperous wicked men; a principal circumstance of whose felicity is, that they spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave g, i.e. without sickness, or the terrors of slow-approaching death. The lot which prosperous libertines of all times, who believe no future reckoning, most ardently wish for. Now in the declining times of the Jewish Economy, pious men had always their answer ready. The prosperous wicked man (say they) shall be
* See note [L] at the end of this volumes * Chap. xvii. ver. 5.
Chap. xxi. ver. 19. See note [M] at the end of this volume.Chap. xxi. ver. 13.
nished in his Posterity, and the afflicted good man rewarded in them. To the first part of the solution concerning the wicked, Job answers thus, God layeth up his iniquity for his children; he rewardeth him, and he shall know it *. As much as to say, the evil man sees and knows nothing of the punishment; in the mean time, he feels and enjoys his own felicity, as a reward. To the second part, concerning the good, he answers thus, His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty : For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst ? + i.e. The virtuous man sees and feels nothing but his own miseries; for what pleasure can the good things reserved for his posterity afford to him who is to taste and enjoy none of it; being not only extinct long before, but cut off untimely?
In another place, Job says, That' idolatry was an iniquity to be punished by the judge . Now both this and the former species of punishment were, as we have shewn, peculiar to the Mosaic Dispensation. But a Jew might naturally mistake them for a part of the general Law of God and nature: and so, while he was really describing the Economy under which he lived, suppose himself to be representing the notions of more ancient times : which that it was his design to do, in the last instance at least, appears from his mentioning only the most early species of idolatry, the worship of the Sun and Moon g. Again, the language of Job with regard to a future state is the very same with the Jewish Writers. He that goeth down to the grave (says this writer) shall come up no more :--they
* Chap. xxi. ver. 19. + Ver. 20, 21.
Chap. xxxi. ver. 28. See note [N] at the end of this volume.