Composition of the Book of Joel


Approximate date: 800s-600s B.C.E. (Right, some conservative-moderate); 600s-400s B.C.E. (some conservative moderate; Left)

Time period: impending invasion of the Land of Israel by foreign enemies

Author(s): Joel and/or a close associate (Right, conservative-moderate); Joel, writers and editors (Left)

Location of prophet/author(s): Judah and Jerusalem (Right, some conservative-moderate); somewhere in the Land of Israel (some conservative-moderate, Left)

Target audience and their location: Southern Kingdom Israelites

Theological Summary: The name Joel, or Yo’el means “the LORD is God.” Little is known of Joel the man, as virtually nothing is stated in the text surrounding his background. There is even confusion about the name of his father, Pethuel (1:1), rendered in the LXX as Bethuel (1:1). What we do know about the Prophet Joel is that he is concerned about Judah and Jerusalem (2:32; 3:1, 6, 8, 16-20), and it is most likely that he was from the Southern Kingdom. Joel has an innate knowledge of the Temple and its services, which has led some to conclude that he was somehow involved with the priesthood. The Book of Joel can be a confusing text, even though it includes standard prophetic elements of the need for repentance, the judgment of God, and promised restoration.

There is difficulty with dating the Book of Joel because no contemporary events are mentioned, and it is likely to remain the most controversial issue regarding its composition. While Joel is placed second among the Twelve Prophets in the Jewish order of the Tanach, the Septuagint places it fourth after Micah, indicating some uncertainty as to when Joel prophesied.

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages