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**** ‘The Book of Job.”
Translation by Stephen Mitchell. Read by Peter Coyote. One cassette unabridged. Audio Literature Inc., 3800 Palos Verdes Way, South San Francisco 94080.
Updating the Bible, King James or Douay version, has been a mixed blessing. The latter-day translations too often lose the poetry along with the archaisms. Current Catholic liturgy, for example, turns the “green pastures” of Psalm 23 into the tone-deaf “verdant fields.” Mitchell’s rendering of Job is thus almost miraculously fine. It is an eloquent, passionate narrative, done in prose of what might be called a timeless modernity, with no (or very few) jarringly current colloquialisms. Job’s anguish and anger retain their full power, and Coyote’s reading hits all the stops, yet never is histrionic sheerly for the sake of histrionics.