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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

10 August 2005

Authorship of the Book of Job

Q: Who wrote the book of Job and when?

A: No consensus exists. Authorship has been suggested for Job, Elihu (the fourth “friend,” in chapters 32-37), Moses, Solomon, Hezekiah, Isaiah, Ezra, or an anonymous author some 200 years before Christ. One Jewish tradition says that Moses wrote the book. Others suggest Solomon as author or compiler because of his interest in poetic literature.

Similarly, the date, either of the events or the authorship is unknown. However, if Job came from an oral tradition, the Holy Spirit did marvelous work in preserving the details. It is from these details that a date from around the time of the Hebrew Patriarchs makes sense. Job as author (whether he actually wrote or dictated the events) makes sense because it reads like an eyewitness account from a vitally interested person.

An early date (ca. 2100-1900 BC) is indicated because of the length of Job’s life, the reckoning of his wealth in livestock, and the fact that the Sabeans and Chaldeans were nomadic raiders (1:13-17) although they later settled to farm and in cities. Also, Job’s daughters could inherit and this was not possible under Mosaic law, the name “Shaddai” was used for God as in Abraham’s time, and several personal and place names match that period. One source I have mentions a good possibility that Job lived around or just after the time of Jacob. However, when all is examined, we still have a mystery that we’ll probably not solve without a spectacular archeological find.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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