Old Testament History and Recent Archeology from Solomon to Zedekiah -- By: Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 127:507 (Jul 1970)
Article: Old Testament History and Recent Archeology from Solomon to Zedekiah
Author: Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

Old Testament History and Recent Archeology
from Solomon to Zedekiah

Gleason L. Archer, Jr.

The age of Solomon was noteworthy for the development of wisdom literature, at least according to the biblical record. Until recent times the tendency of liberal scholarship has been to declare spurious virtually all of the works attributed to Solomon, such as Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. As to the period when the Book of Job was written, there is no clear internal evidence, although most conservative scholars believe that it was composed at least as early as the reign of Solomon, if not several centuries earlier. It is usual for higher critics to look for some definite historical setting for the book to assign it to that period, on the supposition that its strict monotheism and concern for the philosophical problems indicated a postexilic or perhaps even post-Alexandrian milieu. This was then a sort of allegory of the sufferings of Judah during the Babylonian captivity, with Job representing the whole nation of Israel. From the occurrence of Aramaic terms here and there in the text, it was supposed that only a fifth-century or fourth-century date of composition could account for all of these phenomena. This has become virtually official dogma which students in most modern theological seminaries must embrace, on the penalty of incurring the label of obscurantism or stupidity.

It therefore comes as a surprise to discover that even a liberal authority like Marvin Pope acknowledges that a new look at the archeological data demands a revision of this postexilic dating. He points out1 that the great antiquity of

the literary motif of the problem of suffering on the part of a righteous victim of misfortune was treated in Sumerian literature at least as early as 2000 B.C. S. N. Kramer discusses this Sumerian poetical essay2 and points out that the basic issue is that discussed in the Book of Job. He states further: “Certainly if the work was composed in the exilic or early postexilic period, as many critics believe, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for the author to ignore the parallel between the sufferings of the individual and the nation. There is, however, not the slightest suggestion of interest in the fate of the nation Israel betrayed anywhere in the book as conservative scholars, we might add, have always maintained. The choice of a descendant of Esau as the representative righteous sufferer would rule out any likelihood that the narrator had in mind the nation Israel or Judah.”3 This is an excellent example of how the argument from histor...

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