Dating the Book of Joel to 773 BCE

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Charles Bruce Riding

Abstract

In the study of the Latter Prophets, Joel stands out as the problem child. It is the hardest book to date confidently. Is the book a unity, or was it built up in several stages over many years or even centuries? How does Joel fit into the flow of the Book of the Twelve? Is the book of Joel a prophecy relating to an historical event or events, or is it scribal prophecy? If the former, was the historical event a locust plague (ch.1) also described as an invasion (ch.2), or an invasion also likened to a locust plague? Is Joel orthodox, heterodox, or even heretical?

This paper will argue that the book of Joel was written in 773 bce in two stages about a month apart. The first half reacted to the threat of invasion by the Assyrian army just after it had conquered Damascus, and also to a locust plague that struck Jerusalem and Judah at that time. The second half was composed just after both the locusts and the Assyrian army were removed from Judah.

Joel was a true prophet with an orthodox message that was almost immediately perverted by false prophets into what Amos (760 bce), Hosea (750 bce), Isaiah (740 bce), Micah (730 bce), and other prophets would preach against. My findings, if correct, explain how Joel became a pattern for the books of other Old Testament prophets both major and minor, and would contribute to resolving some other debates in current Old Testament scholarship.

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Author Biography

Charles Bruce Riding, Presbyterian Church of Australia

Retired Presbyterian Minister 1974-2016 Retired RAAF Reserve Chaplain 1989-2009 PhD Graduate of A C T, 2018