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Online Text for Joel

Online Resources for Joel

Offline Resources for Joel

Information on Joel

Jay G. Williams writes: "The book of Joel, though it contains some superb Hebrew poetry, raises a number of critical issues which are not easiyl solved. In the first place, the work is undated and gives few clues as to the time of origin. Some have taken the mention of the Greeks in 3:6 as a sign of post-exilic origin, but this reasoning is specious to say the least. Not only were the Greeks known of for centuries before the rise of Alexander the Great, but 2:30-3:8 is in prose and may constitute a later addition to the text anyway. Traditionally, Joel has been dated in the eighth century, perhaps because of its position among the minor prophets, but few arguments can be offered for tihs dating. More critical scholars have variously assigned it dates during and after the exilic period. The basic reason for so dating it is that it contains an eschatological vision somewhat similar to those found in Ezekiel and other exilic and post-exilic prophets." (Understanding the Old Testament, pp. 239-240)

J. William Whedbee writes: "The very features that unify the book efface and blur the traces of compositional history. The theory once dominant among biblical scholars of two stages of composition, which argued that a prophetic response to a locust plague was later expanded by apocalyptic editors, is now passé. Most would still allow for a complex history of the book's composition, but interpreters are increasingly content to posit a postexilic date for the final form of the book without delineating clear-cut stages of development. Even the evidence for dating is entirely circumstantial: there is no sign of a king, and the leadership is in the hands of elders; Israel is scattered among the nations (3:2); the Temple, with its priesthood and ritual, are at the center of the community's life (1:9, 13; 2:14); the community is apparently small (2:16); Phoenicians and Greeks, not Assyrians and Babylonians, are active in slave trading (3:6). All such clues point to a probable postexilic date (ca. 500-350 B.C.)." (Harper's Bible Commentary, pp. 716-717)

Geoffrey F. Wood writes: "There is no mention of a reigning king or dynasty where one might expect it, e.g., 2:16-17. Elders and priests hold prominence in the community (1:2,13; 2:16-17), which is small enough to live within trumpet-call of the Temple (1:14; 2:1,15-16). Judah can be called Israel (2:27; 4:2,16), which suggests that the northern tribes have disappeared. The fall of Jerusalem (587-586), the Exile, and the annexation of Jewish territory are all memories (4:1-3,17). The book is therefore post-exilic. Further precision is possible. The Temple must be that of Ezr 6:13-18, completed ca. 515. Joel seems influenced by two mid-5th-cent. prophets, among others—Malachi (cf. Jl 2:11 with Mal 3:2; Jl 3:4 with Mal 3:23) and Obadiah (cf. Jl 3:5 with Ob 17; Jl 4:2-3 with Ob 11; Jl 4:19 with Ob 10). Greeks merit only passing notice (4:6), indicating that the Battle of Issus (333) and Alexander's entrance into Palestine still lie ahead. Weighing all this, we may date Jl between 400-350. The particularism, the antipathy toward Gentiles, the liturgical preoccupation that Jl manifests characterized this period. Note the allusion to the tamid in 1:9,13; 2:14, the daily sacrifice stressed by late Judaism (see Dn 8:11; 11:31; 12:11; Josephus, JW 6.2,1)." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 440)

J. Alberto Soggin writes: "These are clearly post-exilic themes. The final attack of the nations on Jerusalem is a typical example; in 2.9 the walls seem to have been rebuilt, although the country has been reduced to Jerusalem and Judah only (4.1ff., EV 3.1ff.). Because of this, most scholars think of a period a little before the conquest by Alexander the Great in 332. However, the theories of Keller and Rudolph [for a pre-exilic date] are extremely important, and we must concede to them at least that earlier texts have been used again in a later context. At any rate, the literary genre is that of a collective lament over the catastrophe which has befallen the people, a portent of worse things which are still to come." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 353)

Douglas Stuart writes: "Affinities to Joel's style and language in describing the invasion of his land are found elsewhere in the prophets, in contexts that do not involve locusts but clearly do involve enemy forces. These also tend to confirm that the threat portrayed in Joel 1 and 2 is a human army. For example, in Hab 3:16-17 reference is made to fig trees not budding, grapeless vines, lack of an olive crop, fields that produce no food, lack of sheep and cattle—all as the result of an invasion of an enemy nation. The parallels to Joel 1:14-20 are strong, yet humans, not locusts, have caused the devastation. Several passages in Jeremiah describe invasions with imagery and terminology parallel to that of Joel 1-2:17. Jer 50:41-56, for example, describes an invding army from the north, well armed, making a loud noise, invading in ofrmation, causing fear to grip those invaded, destroying pastureland, causing the earth to quake, etc. Jer 51:27-33 features an alarm to battle, locust-like invaders, quaking earth, desolation, fire, etc. (cf. also Jer 4:5-29; 6:22-24; 49:19-22). In Isa 24:1-3, in addition to the evident parallel in chap. 13, the prophet describes an invasion in terms of wasting the land, a devastated cross section of citizenry, drought, withering of plant life, a cutting off of wine, the city broken into, etc. (cf. Isa 63:13-14; 64:1-6; etc.). Nah 2:1-10 portrays an advancing attack, wasted land, impressive, unstoppable troops invading the city, the fall of the city, etc. From these and other passages it is evident that the kind of language and imagery used in Joel 1:1-2:17 is language traditionally appropriate to the description of invading human armies, and hardly characeteristic of locusts per se. In other words, if the two references to locusts in the book, 1:4 and 2:25, are understood as metaphorical rather than literal, the rest of the imagery fits perfectly well with the scenario of a Babylonian or Assyrian invasion." (Hosea-Jonah, p. 233)

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