Question about the dating of Job

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TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
I have a couple questions related to the dating of Job. The first is just generally, does anybody know any good papers that have convinced you one way or the other on this, because everything I read is all over the place?

The second is that in looking through Study Bible introductions on this, I found the ESV suggests that Job was written after the Psalms because it directly cites some phrases at times. My question here is two-fold. Is it not more reasonable that the Psalms are citing Job? And if Job comes after the Psalms, does this then mean that Job isn't a historical record of dialogue since someone had to add in references to the Psalms (and is this even an acceptable position)?

Thanks
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Seeing he was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil, I imagine he had no trouble getting dates. ;)
 
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Alexander Suarez

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not aware of any specific papers on the matter but I am sure a decent commentary would address the book's dating. You would certainly have to take into account that Bildad the Shuhite (Job 2:11) appears to be a descendant of Shuah, son of Abraham and Keturah (Gen. 25:1-2).
 

Romans922

Puritan Board Professor
I have a couple questions related to the dating of Job. The first is just generally, does anybody know any good papers that have convinced you one way or the other on this, because everything I read is all over the place?

The second is that in looking through Study Bible introductions on this, I found the ESV suggests that Job was written after the Psalms because it directly cites some phrases at times. My question here is two-fold. Is it not more reasonable that the Psalms are citing Job? And if Job comes after the Psalms, does this then mean that Job isn't a historical record of dialogue since someone had to add in references to the Psalms (and is this even an acceptable position)?

Thanks
1) no
2) how do you know Psalms doesn’t cite Job? ESV study Bible is reaching there. So your follow up is possible. Job is part of the OT called the writings. It’s purpose is to teach God’s people how to live faithful lives for Christ.

My personal view is that it is the earliest written book or one of the earliest books written in the Bible.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Sophomore
The events spoken of appear to be very early (patriarchal period), while the form appears to be later (monarchy or exilic).
 

Gwallard

Puritan Board Freshman
Dr. Duguid will have to give the specifics, but my study of Job and some of the language used makes it an interesting study. The story of John itself has very "old" usage of Hebrew. If I'm remembering off the top of my head, the usage of the participle and infinitive as a full verb is a later way of speaking on Hebrew, and that way of speaking - interestingly - occurs in Job only in the 3rd person narratives of the beginning and ending of the book. I understand that as a later - fully inspired - frame narrative, but the center of Job as an ancient written account.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
I have a couple questions related to the dating of Job. The first is just generally, does anybody know any good papers that have convinced you one way or the other on this, because everything I read is all over the place?

The second is that in looking through Study Bible introductions on this, I found the ESV suggests that Job was written after the Psalms because it directly cites some phrases at times. My question here is two-fold. Is it not more reasonable that the Psalms are citing Job? And if Job comes after the Psalms, does this then mean that Job isn't a historical record of dialogue since someone had to add in references to the Psalms (and is this even an acceptable position)?

Thanks
These are good questions, and as you have discovered scholars are all over the map in their answers. Most people agree that the setting of the story is roughly in the Patriarchal era (2000-1800 B.C.?), which suggests that, like the stories of Genesis which Moses wrote down, even the earliest date of composition would have been a lengthy time after the events described. Indeed, some Jewish traditions identify Moses as the author, while others associate it with the Solomonic period. Still others place it later, for a variety of reasons. As Grant, alludes to, there are complex debates about the form of the Hebrew of Job, which is certainly hard, but those need not detain us here. If Job lived in the region of Paddan Aram, rather than in Israel, there may be dialectal differences that complicate such analyses.

Like Genesis, there may have been pre-existing oral or written records of some kind that were then utilized by the Biblical author. In the same way, the Chronicler utilized Samuel and Kings several centuries later to write his own history of Israel and Judah under the inspiration of God. So "late" need not be a pejorative term, if we understand it properly and not (as the critics so often imply) as meaning "fabricated" and "erroneous". "Early" or "late", it seems that the process of composition would have had to be broadly similar, since it seems unlikely to have been an eyewitness account.

As to the words of the debate in Job, and potential overlap with Psalms (or Proverbs), the topic of the Old Testament use of the Old Testament is a hot research topic right now. It is obviously more complex than the NT use of the OT, since the direction of borrowing cannot always be assumed or proved. And of course, not everyone agrees when borrowing has actually taken place. I haven't studied the specific arguments for Job. Do you have verse references? In the case of the Book of Job, there is also a wider discussion as to whether the book is a verbatim record of the conversation between Job and his friends - not least since the entire debate is conducted in poetry! Is it possible that the author has recorded the flow of the argument accurately under the Spirit's guidance but placed the ideas of the speakers in poetic form? In that case, I think the test would be that the participants on reading the book (in heaven!) would recognize the debate as a fair representation of their points.

I'm not sure we can resolve the issue of the date of composition completely, which likely means that we shouldn't worry too much about it. We may be confident that it is an accurate account of the events described, like the rest of the Scriptures, whenever it was first written down. I hope that helps.

PS Even if the Book of Job uses material from the psalms, that does not necessarily mean that it dates from after the collection of the psalms into the Biblical book, which occurred after the exile. Many of those individual psalms existed long before the book, including one written by Moses himself (Ps 90). So in the case of dating relative to (the Book of) Psalms everything is more complicated. We know that Job's story at least was known to Ezekiel (see Ezek. 14), but again that doesn't necessarily prove that it was in the form of the current book.
 
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Scottish Presbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
I am not aware of any specific papers on the matter but I am sure a decent commentary would address the book's dating. You would certainly have to take into account that Bildad the Shuhite (Job 2:11) appears to be a descendant of Shuah, son of Abraham and Keturah (Gen. 25:1-2).
Also, Eliphaz the Temanite seems to be a descendant of Esau. Anyone got any ideas about Zophar? Ishmaelite perhaps? (daughter of Ishmael was Naamah).

By the time of the Exodus it seems that those families had departed from the true faith, so that would put the events in the book somewhere between Esau and the Exodus, while the children of Israel were in Egypt.

It's also interesting that this seems to show that some godliness continued in the families of Esau, the children of Keturah, and possibly Ishmael for some generations, even though we don't seem to have evidence of Esau or Ishmael being godly men themselves. Perhaps instructive to compare this with what is said of Abraham in Genesis 18:19.
 

TryingToLearn

Puritan Board Freshman
These are good questions, and as you have discovered scholars are all over the map in their answers. Most people agree that the setting of the story is roughly in the Patriarchal era (2000-1800 B.C.?), which suggests that, like the stories of Genesis which Moses wrote down, even the earliest date of composition would have been a lengthy time after the events described. Indeed, some Jewish traditions identify Moses as the author, while others associate it with the Solomonic period. Still others place it later, for a variety of reasons. As Grant, alludes to, there are complex debates about the form of the Hebrew of Job, which is certainly hard, but those need not detain us here. If Job lived in the region of Paddan Aram, rather than in Israel, there may be dialectal differences that complicate such analyses.

Like Genesis, there may have been pre-existing oral or written records of some kind that were then utilized by the Biblical author. In the same way, the Chronicler utilized Samuel and Kings several centuries later to write his own history of Israel and Judah under the inspiration of God. So "late" need not be a pejorative term, if we understand it properly and not (as the critics so often imply) as meaning "fabricated" and "erroneous". "Early" or "late", it seems that the process of composition would have had to be broadly similar, since it seems unlikely to have been an eyewitness account.

As to the words of the debate in Job, and potential overlap with Psalms (or Proverbs), the topic of the Old Testament use of the Old Testament is a hot research topic right now. It is obviously more complex than the NT use of the OT, since the direction of borrowing cannot always be assumed or proved. And of course, not everyone agrees when borrowing has actually taken place. I haven't studied the specific arguments for Job. Do you have verse references? In the case of the Book of Job, there is also a wider discussion as to whether the book is a verbatim record of the conversation between Job and his friends - not least since the entire debate is conducted in poetry! Is it possible that the author has recorded the flow of the argument accurately under the Spirit's guidance but placed the ideas of the speakers in poetic form? In that case, I think the test would be that the participants on reading the book (in heaven!) would recognize the debate as a fair representation of their points.

I'm not sure we can resolve the issue of the date of composition completely, which likely means that we shouldn't worry too much about it. We may be confident that it is an accurate account of the events described, like the rest of the Scriptures, whenever it was first written down. I hope that helps.

PS Even if the Book of Job uses material from the psalms, that does not necessarily mean that it dates from after the collection of the psalms into the Biblical book, which occurred after the exile. Many of those individual psalms existed long before the book, including one written by Moses himself (Ps 90). So in the case of dating relative to (the Book of) Psalms everything is more complicated. We know that Job's story at least was known to Ezekiel (see Ezek. 14), but again that doesn't necessarily prove that it was in the form of the current book.
Thanks for the very helpful response. I especially appreciated this:

"there is also a wider discussion as to whether the book is a verbatim record of the conversation between Job and his friends - not least since the entire debate is conducted in poetry! Is it possible that the author has recorded the flow of the argument accurately under the Spirit's guidance but placed the ideas of the speakers in poetic form? In that case, I think the test would be that the participants on reading the book (in heaven!) would recognize the debate as a fair representation of their points".

I was very confused as to what would exactly "count" as an attack on inerrancy here, so I think this is a helpful way of thinking about it.

As to the verse references, the ESV lists Ps. 107:40 cf. Job 12:21, 24 and Ps. 8:4 cf. Job 7:17-18.
 

iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for the very helpful response. I especially appreciated this:

"there is also a wider discussion as to whether the book is a verbatim record of the conversation between Job and his friends - not least since the entire debate is conducted in poetry! Is it possible that the author has recorded the flow of the argument accurately under the Spirit's guidance but placed the ideas of the speakers in poetic form? In that case, I think the test would be that the participants on reading the book (in heaven!) would recognize the debate as a fair representation of their points".

I was very confused as to what would exactly "count" as an attack on inerrancy here, so I think this is a helpful way of thinking about it.

As to the verse references, the ESV lists Ps. 107:40 cf. Job 12:21, 24 and Ps. 8:4 cf. Job 7:17-18.
The Psalm 8 and Job 7 pairing is a good example. They have in common "What is man...?" (mah 'enosh) and the verb paqad ("take care of"/"visit"). That's certainly interesting but not entirely conclusive. In contrast the connection between Ps 8:4 and Ps 144:3 is more compelling to me, combining "what is man..." with the "man/son of man" parallelism (the order is switched from 'enosh...'adam to 'adam...'enosh), the kind of reversal that is common in texts that quote other Biblical texts. Even if we assume that Job and Ps 8 are linked, one piece of evidence that would favor Job as source text is the fact that "What is man...?" (mah 'enosh) also occurs in Job 15:14, where it seems unlikely to be referring to Psalm 8. Frances Anderson notes that scholars are divided on which came first, though both he and John Hartley in the NICOT call Job a "parody" of Ps 8. That's a statement rather than an argument, and a long way from the kind of rigorous methodology being developed by those who are working these days specifically on OT use of the OT.

Ps 107:40 is, I think more clear cut as a usage of Job 12:21-24: it is a feature of citing texts to draw parallels from a wider part of the source text (summarizing) as appears to be the case here. Moreover, Ps 107:38-43 reads a lot like reflection on Job's experience, making it more likely that the psalm is quoting Job (unless you want to argue that the entire book of Job is a reflection on the end of Psalm 107, which seems like a stretch). Allan Harman notes the apparent use of Job 5:16 and 22:19 in v. 42, which seems to clinch it.

As I noted earlier, Ps 107 doesn't really help too much with the dating of Job since it is the first psalm in Book 5 of the psalter, written, it appears, to introduce this last book, so very likely post-exilic (see Palmer Robertson's Flow of the Psalms for other evidence pointing in that direction). But it does demonstrate that the borrowing can go from Job to Psalms rather than necessarily being the other way.

Again, I hope this is useful to you.
 
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