Job 39.25

In The Guns of August, a book for which I am writing a marginal commentary, Barbara Tuchman, in true Biblical style, conflates Job 39.25, ant. loc., in order to describe Winston Churchill, then not quite forty years old and First Lord of the Admiralty. She writes (on p. 111):
When he smelled battle afar off, Winston Churchill resembled the war horse in Job who turned not back from the sword but "paweth in the valley and saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha."
This sentence is a dense conflation of bits from Job 39, vv. 21, 22, & 25. As the verbal forms demonstrate, she has in mind, and in part directly quotes, the Authorised (or King James) Version.

This allusion, it should be noted, would not work at all with other English translations: if taken from the text of the NRSV the part written only as a direct quotation would read, 'paws violently and when the trumpet sounds, says, "Aha!" ' If taken from the Revised English Bible, it would read, 'shows his mettle as he paws and prances and at the trumpet-call he cries "Aha!"'; if from the NIV, 'paws fiercely and at the blast of the trumpet snorts, "Aha!"'; if from the Jerusalem Bible, 'paws the soil of the valley and at each trumpet blast shouts "Hurrah!"'.

The which just goes to show that the Authorised Version is certainly the fertile source of much literary allusion and creativity. It also shows that you never know where you're going to find a Biblical allusion.

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