POSTED 24 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: 900s B.C.E. (Right, some conservative-moderate); 700s-400s B.C.E. (some conservative-moderate, Left)
Time period: depicted in the Patriarchal era prior to the formation of Ancient Israel as a nation
Author: Moses (some Right); anonymous (some Right, conservative-moderate, Left)
Location of author: wilderness (some Right); Land of Israel (some Right, some conservative-moderate); Land of Edom (some conservative-moderate, some Left); Babylon (some Left)
Target audience and their location: human beings who endure suffering
Theological Summary: The Book of Job is widely considered to be one of the most ancient stories in Scripture, but it is also a highly contested text as to its composition and message. The events depicted in Job are pre-Israel, likely dating from sometime in the Second Millennium B.C.E. The setting of Job is Uz (1:1), which may be another designation for Edom (Lamentations 4:21), giving us a strong clue that the general area where Job occurs is certainly a desert region. Job is a substantial wisdom text that has affected Biblical Studies for millennia, asking us questions about Divine justice or theodicity, combined with human patience in times of suffering. In the Christian tradition, Job is placed among the books of Wisdom literature, whereas Jewish tradition places it among the Writings.
Many Rabbis and theologians consider Job to be a real historical person enduring a real experience. Others, however, consider the story to be parabolic, reflecting a true reality but with fictional characters as historical fiction. A proper interpretation of Job will take into consideration how it is deeply rooted with an Ancient Near Eastern background.
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.