Let the Priests Lament: A Study of the Composition of the Book of Joel Open Access

Watson, Douglas William (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/m039k511n?locale=en


Research on the Book of Joel has been complicated by a lack of consensus on its compositional history and, in particular, a recent tendency to ignore redactional considerations entirely. This study focuses renewed attention on the history of the book's composition, demonstrating that the book of Joel includes a fierce debate about the future restoration of Israel. The original composition in chs. 1-2 calls for a national mourning ceremony to lament the state of extreme national distress--characterized by the collapse of social, economic, and cosmic order--and then offers reassurance that the deity has heard the petitions and will address the concerns. The update in ch. 4 reinterprets the nation's distress as a fear of foreign nations, promising divine vengeance on Israel's enemies. Finally, ch. 3 finds in the original composition a clue to deciphering the timing of the deity's future judgment, from which only the elect and discerning will escape. This investigation brings clarity to the structure and coherence of the earliest stage of the book's composition and discusses the interpretive strategies that animated the later scribal updates.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations...iv

I. The Unity of the Book of Joel: A History of Critical Research...6

A. Early Studies...7
B. Structural Unity...13
C. Non-structural Unity...19
D. Stephen Cook...28
E. Summary...39

II. Redactional Additions to the Book of Joel: A History of Critical Research...42

A. Early Studies...42
B. Multi-layered Redactional Theories...46
C. The Day of Yahweh...52
D. The Book of the Twelve...55
E. Structural Patterns...59
F. Summary...60

III. The Composition of the Book of Joel: Disaster, Distress and Deliverance...62

A. The Coherence of Joel 1-2...64

i. Joel 1:1-2:17...64
ii. The Disaster...80

1. The locusts of Joel 1:4...82
2. Drought and military imagery in Joel 1-2...89
3. Qatal/Yiqtol and the question of chronology...94
4. Locusts and locust-imagery in context...98
5. Conventions of national distress: a rhetorical approach...105
6. Summary...122

iii. Poems of National Distress...126

1. Formal structure...126
2. Poetic unity...135

iv. Joel 2:18-27...139
v. The Divine Response...143
vi. Excursus: Secondary Material in Joel 1-2?...156
vii. Summary...161

B. The Additions in Joel 3-4...169

i. Joel 3:1-4:21...170
ii. The Eschatological Scenario...179
iii. Divine Judgment...196
iv. Determinism...208
v. Relation to the Cult...211
vi. Time and the "Day of Yahweh"...219
vii. Summary...225

Works Cited...243

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