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I started reading a Bible plan that claims to be chronological. However, after the last chapter of Genesis, it started Job. After the end of Job, it continued into Exodus. All of my attempts at researching this come up short.

Does the story of Job happen between Genesis and Exodus? If not, where would be a reasonable place on a timeline to put the book of Job?

Note: I'm specifically looking for the timeline of the story/events as opposed to when the text was written.

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    This question relates to hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/11587 and in my answer to that, I note that commentators generally agree that the events depicted are during the time of the Patriarchs (see 3rd paragraph of answer and also footnote 2). The chronological Bible plan is apparently taking that view, and Job was probably put between Genesis & Exodus as a convenient place to put in near the Patriarchal period (it may be during Genesis accounts, not between). However, I do not see the question here as a duplicate. – ScottS Nov 9 '16 at 22:20
  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange David, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. – Steve Taylor Nov 10 '16 at 12:20
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    @SteveTaylor The meta post is very helpful. I had looked at the tour page (though apparently did not scroll all the way to the bottom) and "Historical context" was in the good questions portion, so I figured this was an acceptable question. I'm going to read through the rest of that meta post now. – David Starkey Nov 10 '16 at 15:35
  • Thanks David - yes, I do agree with you there, and nobody's logged any closing votes against your post, so I think we're all on the same page. Glad you went through the site tour! BH.SE questions geared around historical context typically need to begin with a specific text, but given your question I think we can safely group all of Job as being our source text. It's very unusual to have a whole book in scope for a Question, but it can happen! – Steve Taylor Nov 10 '16 at 15:54
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    I'm glad my answer was helpful, but I would seriously hesitate to close it as a duplicate, because I think there are a number of things that can be pulled from the text of Job (and commentaries about those things) to show why it is many commentators place the events in that age (even if they may or may not place the writing in that age as the other question was asking). – ScottS Nov 10 '16 at 17:51
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The Septuagint version of Job contains a conclusion that is missing from the Masoretic Text:

This man is described in the Syriac book as living in the land of Ausis, on the borders of Idumea and Arabia: and his name before was Jobab; and having taken an Arabian wife, he begot a son whose name was Ennon. And he himself was the son of his father Zare, one of the sons of Esau, and of his mother Bosorrha, so that he was the fifth from Abraam. And these were the kings who reigned in Edom, which country he also ruled over: first, Balac, the son of Beor, and the name of his city was Dennaba: but after Balac, Jobab, who is called Job: and after him Asom, who was governor out of the country of Thæman: and after him Adad, the son of Barad, who destroyed Madiam in the plain of Moab; and the name of his city was Gethaim. And his friends who came to him were Eliphaz, of the children of Esau, king of the Thæmanites, Baldad sovereign of the Sauchæans, Sophar king of the Minæans*

Regardless of whether the compilers of your chronology used this particular piece of information, it would support placing Job (who was fifth from Abraam) between Genesis (ending with the 3rd generation from Abraham) and Exodus (beginning with Moses, who belonged to the 6th generation from Abraham - see Exodus 6:16-20).


* Brenton translation

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Dating authorship

Apart from the fact that the dating of Job is notoriously difficult, I would be suspicious towards a bible plan that claims to be chronological and places one book after the other (which I guess from your post). For example, Ex. 15, the song of Myriam, is generally considered to be much older than the surrounding text.

Another example: the book of Isaiah was written by at least three different authors over several centuries, and later on different parts have been assembled into one book. Some scholars even want to divide Proto-Isaiah, the first part (ch. 1-39), in six. Also, the four songs of the servants may have been a separate book before. [1]

The Pentateuch is considered to have been composed from different sources, from as early as 1000 BCE till around the Babylonian exile, c. 500 years later. Several passages seem heavily fragmented to the point that even if all different sources could be dated precisely, a chronological bible plan would mean having to skip from verse to verse.

Dating events

Having said that, in the Talmud it is claimed that Moses wrote Job (recall that traditionally, Moses is considered to be the writer of the Pentateuch). See for example [2]:

It is the opinion of many of the ancients that this history was written by Moses himself in Midian, and delivered to his suffering brethren in Egypt, for their support and comfort under their burdens, and the encouragement of their hope that God would in due time deliver and enrich them, as he did this patient sufferer.

As far as I know, this is not considered a viable option in current-day exegesis, but it may explain why your bible plan is organised this way.

[1]: Debel, Eén naam, een veelzijdig boek: Jesaja te midden van de profetische literatuur. Ezra 2014 (Dutch).
[2]: Matthew Henry, An Exposition, With Practical Observations, of The Book of Job.

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    Well the point of a chronological reading of the Bible is obviously to place the texts in the chronological order of their events, not their authorship... the question above is framed around where to place the chronology of Job against the events in other texts, and this answer doesn't really handle these questions in any depth. – Steve Taylor Nov 14 '16 at 11:00
  • @SteveTaylor it wasn't clear to me that ordering the events is the aim of the plan, but yes, that seems more likely, thanks. Still, my last paragraph ("Having said that, ...") applies. – user2672 Nov 14 '16 at 11:02
  • The Talmud doesn't say Moses wrote Job before he wrote Exodus. All it says is "Moses wrote his book, the story of Balaam, and Job" (Bava Batra 14b). One opinion brought (among others) says he was a contemporary of Moses, but nothing to my knowledge about Moses writing the book before he wrote Exodus – b a Oct 15 '18 at 23:38
  • @ba thanks, I'll fix that. I relied on the linked post. – user2672 Oct 16 '18 at 4:55
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According to the Talmud (Sotah 11a) Job was actually someone whom Pharaoh consulted with on how to deal with the Israelite problem:

Come, let us deal wisely with him — it should have been with them! — R. Hama b. Hanina said: [Pharaoh meant,] Come and let us outwit the Saviour of Israel. With what shall we afflict them? If we afflict them with fire, it is written: For, behold the Lord will come with fire, and it continues, For by fire will the Lord plead etc. [If we afflict them] with the sword, it is written: And by His sword with all flesh. But come and let us afflict them with water, because the Holy One, blessed be He, has already sworn that he will not bring a flood upon the world; as it is said: For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me, etc. They were unaware, however, that He would not bring a flood upon the whole world but upon one people He would bring it; or alternatively, He would not bring [the flood] but they would go and fall into it. Thus it says: And the Egyptians fled towards it. This is what R. Eleazar said: What means that which is written: Yea, in the thing wherein they zadu [dealt proudly] against them? In the pot in which they cooked were they cooked. Whence is it learnt that ‘zadu’ means cooking? — Because it is written: And Jacob sod [wa-yazed] pottage.

R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Simai: There were three in that plan, viz. Balaam, Job and Jethro. Balaam who devised it was slain; Job who silently acquiesced was afflicted with sufferings; Jethro, who fled, merited that his descendants should sit in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, as it is said: And the families of scribes which dwelt at Jabez; the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, the Sucathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab; and it is written: And the children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law etc. (Soncino Translation)

I can't say whether your Bible plan was following this tradition, but this would place the events of Job squarely at around the time of Exodus in which case the location of his book between Genesis and Exodus would not be surprising.

Additionally, it would make more sense to place Job between Genesis and Exodus than between any of the other books of the Pentateuch because Exodus is the start of a new story. Genesis dealt with the Patriarchs and their children; Exodus begins the story of Moses and the Israelites in Egypt and in the Wilderness which continues straight through (with interruptions for legal and ritual passages, of course) to the end of Deuteronomy. It would be more awkward to break up this story by placing Job somewhere in the middle than to simply place Job before the story altogether.

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The problem with this "chronological" reading plan like this is that it must completely reject Documentary Hypothesis. According to a great deal of scholars with many solid examples to support their ideas, much of the Old Testament is made up of a series of redactions, mashups and remixes by multiple authors.

For example, Panbabylonist present the case that Genesis, (especially Chapter 1) is a polemic influenced by both Babylonian and Egyptian myth.

This brings about a very real possibility that it may be reasonable to place Job on the timeline between Genesis and... well... Genesis. Which is to say that it seems this timeline has oversimplified things and has not recognized the complex realities of dating the Old testament and Documentary Hypothesis. Many books may not be of one specific date, but a range of multiple dates with contributions by multiple divinely inspired authors, redactors and contributors.

  • It may not be about rejecting the Documentary Hypothesis. It may be simply asking a different question about the text. For example, it's perfectly valid to ask when the text of Genesis as we have it now was written. This question can be asked whether you believe in a "direct dictation from God" process or an extensive oral/redactional process over time. – Peter Kirkpatrick Dec 22 '17 at 9:50
  • I might be mistaken, but I think the DH deals with when the books were actually written, not when the stories they document supposedly took place. I would assume that the OP's chronology would be based on the latter and not the former. – user33515 Dec 22 '17 at 16:18
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    While I didn't make the plan, in it's defense it does have several places where books are interwoven. Basically, a chapter is the smallest block they use. The most obvious example was the Gospels, where you could have chapters from all 4 in one day, if they are discussing the same event. However, as in the question, Job's story was considered to happen after all of Genesis. – David Starkey Dec 22 '17 at 16:56
  • @PeterKirkpatrick - Sort of. We can think about when the text was redacted or compiled. This necessarily involves some level of editorilization to at least provide transitions into the next story or work. In this case, parts of it may have been written in ~1400 BC and others written in ~600 BC with redacting taking place then or in ~400BC. Simply because the works were redacted doesn't mean they weren't divinely inspired (just seperately) and the hand of the redactor wasn't guided by God. It just makes it hard to define "chronologically". – James Shewey Dec 22 '17 at 18:02
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    @DavidStarkey - My thoughts are that you might consider repeating sections. For example, if you understand that Gen 2-3 and 12-end were probably written before Job and read just those sections and then re-read Genesis after the Historical books and before the minor prophets when this was probably redacted it allows you to examine why God revealed/the author wrote the original work(s) and what was being addressed theologically and then ask the same thing again about the redaction. What changed, what was the new theological need? – James Shewey Dec 22 '17 at 18:22
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I have my own reading plan where I break the Bible into ten sections, and I read a bit in each section every day. The first section I read covers Genesis - Joshua. When I finish Genesis 10, I then read Job. After finishing Job, I go on to Genesis 11. Is it chronological? No. But it is a really good place, in my opinion, to have a break from Genesis and read Job.

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    Hi Brian! Welcome to Hermeneutics.SE. You might take the tour if you have not already to get an idea of what constitutes a thorough answer. – Jack Oct 20 '18 at 3:19

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