The Structure Of Joel -- By: Duane A. Garrett

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 28:3 (Sep 1985)
Article: The Structure Of Joel
Author: Duane A. Garrett


The Structure Of Joel

Duane A. Garrett*

The book of Joel presents the student of the OT with difficult historical, critical and interpretive problems. The date of the book’s composition, which will not concern us here, remains in doubt. Moreover, OT scholars have questioned the unity of Joel ever since doubts were raised by M. Vernes (1872), J. W. Rothstein (1896) and Bernhard Duhm (1911).1 Scholars generally divided the work at the end of 2:27 and thus considered 1:1–2:27 to be Joel’s account of a locust plague and 3:1–4:21 (2:28–3:21 English)2 to be a later apocalyptic work. Some scholars—e.g., Soggin—continue to accept this analysis without question.3 Duhm considered Joel to be the author of the work only up to 2:17, and like other scholars he claimed to have discovered interpolations at various points in the book. 4:4–8 is widely regarded as an interpolation. Today, some scholars continue to regard Joel as two originally separate works in spite of the opposition of many to the bifurcation of the book.4 In particular H. W. Wolff has written a masterful defense of the unity of the book.5 But Brevard Childs, who appreciates and interacts with Wolff’s work, accepts the critical division of Joel and regards its apparent unity as redactional rather than original.6

Another major problem in the book is interpretive. Specifically, does 2:1–11 (and 2:20) continue the description begun in chap. I of an historical locust plague, or does it shift to a description of an apocalyptic or human army that invades Judah on the “day of Yahweh”? Here, too, opinion is deeply divided. Calvin interpreted 2:1–11 as a description of a human enemy army.7 Keil, however, regarded it as a further treatment of the locust plague,8 and for the

*Duane Garrett is missionary-in-residence at Houston Baptist University in Texas.

last hundred years scholars have generally concurred.

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