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Brad Rahr Book of Job Paper Dr.

Ken Hanson 4/19/2012 Origin and Authorship of the Book of Job

The origin and authorship of the book of Job has been a topic of debate for hundreds of years. Many scholars claim that the book is of an Aramaic origin while others claim an Arabic original translation. The arguments range from the original translation to the location of the texts authorship as well as the actual author. If scholars were to discover who wrote the book, then it would ultimately answer all of these questions. Yet the debate continues over the mysterious text. The most probable source of this text is from Hebraic origins. The difficulty of the Hebrew language throughout the text suggests an original Hebrew translation. The arguments favoring an Egyptian origin, Arabic origin, and an Aramaic translation are all weak and do not flow with the language of the original text without using retroversion or submitting to inconsistent facts and arguments. In his work Is the Book of Job a Translation from an Arabic Original? Frank H. Foster argues that the Book of Job was an original Arabic translation. Other thinkers such as Thomas Carlyle believe the same thing about the great Hebrew text. Foster makes the argument that the author of the book has a very natural awareness of the desert. He says, It is, first of all, a production of the desert. Its author has watched the desert wadi, swollen sometimes in winter to a torrent (38:25), always with some possibility of water, freezing by night but drying with the sudden coming of the heat (6:16 ff.); seen the fierce storms of the desert gather and break with thunder and lightning and whirl- wind (21:18; 27:21)(Foster). He goes on to give many examples throughout the book of the authors

familiarity with the desert and all that comes with it: storms, thirst, and dark nights, so on and so forth. Points such as this led many people to believe that the work is of an Edomite origin and therefore most likely Arabic. After all, the book talks about Job being from the Land of Uz, There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil. (Job 1:1). This is important because many scholars place the land of Uz in Edom. This is assumed because it is stated in Scripture in the book of Lamentations, Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom, that dwellest in the land of Uz. (Lamentations 4:21). So it would make sense that if the character of the book, Job, was an Edomite and therefore the author was also an Edomite or Arab. James B. Jordan claims that, That Job was almost certainly an Edomite emerges from the geographical context of Jobs life. He lived in the east, and Edom was to the southeast of Israel, in t he northwest corner of Arabia. He lived in the land of Uz (`Uts), and this was part of Edom according to Lamentations 4:21. Uz was one of the sons of Dishan, who was one of the original chieftains of Seir, the land Esau conquered and merged with (Genesis 36:28-30). Thus, we can be fairly sure that Job was an Edomite. (Jordan). We have seen evidence that Job was an Edomite but this does not necessarily mean that the author was. Yet what of the nature of the language found in Job? The Hebrew translation is known to be extremely difficult to translate. Even being read in Hebrew the text is difficult to read because of the use of difficult language. Robert Gordis has something to say about scholars claiming that the book was an Arabic original. In his work The Book of God and Man Gordis argues against Abraham ibn Ezra when he claims that a difficult text can be explained as a translation of an original in another language (Gordis). He claims that one would think for a text to be extremely difficult to read in its current translation they can safely assume that the text was actually written in that language. He gives an

example of a translator with inadequate knowledge of the original translation misconstruing the words and leaving important words or details out of the work. This would make sense to most and is a good point against Ezra. Foster makes the same argument (though favoring the Arabic translation) by saying, Any translator, however well qualified for his task, and however careful in performing it, is likely to fall unconsciously into peculiarities which show his production to be a translation and not his own untrammeled original composition. (Foster). So Foster would agree with Gordis yet he claims that the Hebrew is a translation from the original Arabic. So he seems some what inconsistent if not self refuting. Or he is saying that the Hebrew has misconstrued the meaning of the Arabic text? This would seem highly unlikely seeing as the Hebrew is extremely difficult, such that it would be written by a master of the language and the lack or arabisms in the work. Sure there are plenty of arabisms (such as Job being a derivative from the Arabic Ayyub) throughout the work, but compared to the Hebrew it should seem of little importance. R. Laird Harris a Professor of the Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary writes in his work, The Book of Job and its Doctrine of God that, It is true, however, that there are some words in Job that are neatly explained by reference to Arabic. For instance in 23:9, the words "work" and "hide" in the AV may be derived from words meaning "turn" in the Arabic. Also the word "drops" in the AV of 38:28, "the drops of dew" is found elsewhere only in Arabic. Again in 30:7, 17, the word for "flee" or "rest" in the AV and found only here has an Arabic cognate "gnaw." (Though the sense hardly fits--to gnaw the wilderness! Commentators must supply something!). The significance of the Hebrew outweighs the arabisms in the text. Harris explains that it would be unlikely for the author to be Arabic because the first written text in Arabic is from around 500 AD. So it would seem unlikely to receive such a beautifully and masterfully written text if in fact the oldest Arabic text is only from the fifth century AD.

Gordis asks whether or not we can be sure that because of the setting of the book that it is an Arabic text. He states that the names and locales mentioned in Job are to be found to the south and east of Palestine in the proximity of Edom is, of course, true. But this fact testifies only to the Near Eastern character of the original Job tale utilized by the author. (Gordis). Gordis stakes his arguments on the poetic language and nature of writing that is found in throughout the book being similar to the other Wisdom literature of the Hebrew people. He says that this poetic nature makes it extremely Hebraic in nature compared to the Psalms and Ecclesiastes (yet considered even more poetic and advanced than these). The final argument Gordis makes against the claim that the book is a translation from an original Arabic source is that the regions of the Arab world were primitive and polytheistic. This would make it seem unnatural for a society to develop this kind of work. As stated above it would not seem likely that this society could even produce a work such as Job. Gordis would agree with Harris. The book is riddled with the true nature of what it means to be monotheistic. The sovereignty of God in the text is laid out explicitly in Job chapter 38 when he basically slams Job with questions about his role in Gods power, authority, and creation, 1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: 2 Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. 4 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. 5 Who determined its measurements--surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? 6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone 7 when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy? (Job 39:1-7). This goes to show the perception of God from the author and the character Job, making it unlikely to be created by an Arab author. So it seems that the author would then be a Hebrew who has mastered the language and a great thinker to develop a work that is so very Hebrew yet quite subversive.

Another important question that fuels the debate for the origins of the book of Job is where and when it was written. There is a debate on whether it was written before or by Moses which is the common belief of the Jewish tradition or if another author had written it later like in the post-exilic times. R. Laird Harris writes in his work many of the different theories for the authorship and dating for the ancient work. He gives examples of the mentions of Job in Ezekiel 14 where the Prophet mentions the righteous men of antiquity: Noah, Daniel, and Job. Yet he continues to explain that this reference is not necessarily binding because Daniel was dated in circa 200 BC. Harris goes further to explain the other references of Daniel, It is now said that the Daniel of Ezekiel refers not to the canonical Daniel, but to the Daniel mentioned in the Ugaritic Texts as an ancient wise man, the father of the hero, Aqhat. (Harris). So we see that this is still up for debate. He also mentions the parallels in scripture, The only other external evidence for the antiquity of the book would come from cross references and allusions in other Biblical books. Proverb 3:11 is one such passage, with the wording quite similar to Job 5:27. Job says, Despise not the chastening of the Almighty. Proverbs says, My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord. The wording of the two passages is identical in Hebrew, except that Job has the divine name, Shaddai, which it very frequently uses, and Proverbs uses the more common name, the Tetragram. (Harris). This raises an interesting point yet the question arises on who is quoting who? Maybe the Psalmist is actually quoting Job or the fact that Job is quoting the Psalmist or the author of Proverbs is still a viable option. We see here parallels that are the same in the Hebrew, but how do we know who is the first to write the words? This will lead other scholars to promote either a later date or an earlier date. The pre Mosaic times are still an option because of the sacrifices performed by Job are like that of the patriarchs before the tabernacle times of Moses which is explained by Harris. He goes on to say that the mention of Job being a priest in his own house like that of Abraham, but then mentions that this could been of the

Eastern location of Job like mentioned above according to Jordan. The fact that he was not a native of Israel but a believer in Jehovah and living in a far land would be good enough reason for this. Also mentioned by both Harris and Gordis is the Dead Sea Scrolls and their pointing to Moses being the author. Fragments of Job are found among the Dead Sea Scrolls actually dating from about 200 B. C. They are written in the paleo- Hebrew Script implying that there was a considerable history of copying behind them. And now to the further surprise of many, the Targum referred to above, an Aramaic translation of Job, has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. The copy is from about A. D. 50, but the translation itself is dated by the editors at about 100 B. C. Evidently Job was already a loved and famous book in the second century B.C.(Harris). This is interesting because it would seem that a book to already be loved and accepted would take time to spread. Scholars are lead to believe that about 200 years are needed for this kind of familiarity and/or acceptance of writings as scripture. But this does not mean that the book was canonized as scripture because Harris explains that the Talmud was not codified until 500 AD. Yet even though it was not put together into a book does not mean it was not accepted. This seems that it is still up for debate. The other argument made by scholars and especially by Gordis is the post-exilic period. There is strong evidence to suggest that the book was written in this period. One is the mention of Satan. There was no evidence for an adversary like Satan earlier than this. It is believed that the Israelites adopted this idea of Satan from the Babylonian religion Zoroastrianism. Gordis claims, Satan, who figures in the prologue, is probably a borrowing from Zoroastrianism, which saw the world as a battleground between Ahura Mazda, the god of light and righteousness, and Ormuzd, the god of darkness and evil.(Gordis). He goes on to explain how Satan is not yet even mentioned as a proper noun until Chronicles nor as a fallen angel as in the works of Solomon. Gordis suggests that this would hint at the book preceding the two other works both dating from the third century and first century BC. This dualistic religion places

much influence on the evil nature of gods that was uncommon to the Hebrew people before this time. Also the belief in the afterlife was not necessarily held by the Israelites until this period or even suggested. Gordis explains that the fact Job goes on to deny or reject the ides of an afterlife suggests the Second Temple period where the idea had not taken hold or even seemed acceptable to the Israelites yet. There is the apocalyptic tone of Daniel that seems to stick out as well and stated above the book of Daniel was dated circa 200 BC. All of the evidence here, regardless of which one you would agree with most, seem to give strong evidence that the book of Job is actually Hebraic in nature and actually a work written by a learned and experienced Hebrew. These arguments made by Gordis, Harris, and Jordan are very strong in their points and truly point to an original Hebrew text. But perhaps there was maybe an Arabic scholar that had a thorough knowledge of the desert and of the world to produce such a work. There might have possibly been an Edomite man that created this beautiful work of art. Yet the evidence shows that the beautiful and significant presence of the Arabic terms in the text provides the work with a rich and abundant flow and taste, yet they do not necessarily invoke a certain definitive YES to an Arabic author. The evidence throughout the parallels to other books in the Hebrew Scriptures and the poetic flow of the work help to show that this piece is actually an original Hebraic text. And then the dating of the book from the Mosaic period to the post-exilic period all seem to prove that there must have been a definitive Hebrew source to this masterpiece. It does not seem likely to assume that after all of this evidence that there would be any other source to this work or any other place of origin nor any other mentality behind it than an authentically Hebraic and truly fitting beginning.

Work Cited

1). Is the Book of Job a Translation from an Arabic Original? Frank Hugh Foster. The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures , Vol. 49, No. 1 (Oct., 1932), pp. 21-45. Published by: The University of Chicago Press. Article Stable URL:

2). R. Laird Harris. The Book of Job and its Doctrine of God. Grace Theological Journal 13.3 (Fall 1972) 3-33. Copyright 1972 by Grace Theological Seminary

3). Robert, Gordis. Book of God and Man. Pp. 209-218. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (Books), 1965. Copyright 1965, University of Chicago Press.

4). Bible. New Revised Standard Version, Published 1989.

5). Jordan, James B. "Was Job an Edomite King." Biblical Horizons Newsletter. 130 (2000): n. page. Web. 19 Apr. 2012. <