[b-hebrew] Job: Who Influenced Whom?

david.kimbrough at charter.net david.kimbrough at charter.net
Fri Jun 11 12:34:51 EDT 2004

It is important to re-state what the debate is about.  

QUESTION: Is there any evidence that the Sumerian Job-like poems of 1700 BC were influenced by a pre-existing Hebrew poems?

ANSWER: No there is no evidence that any such Hebrew poems existed or that any language existed at that time that might be called Hebrew.

AMPLIFICATION: It is impossible to prove a negative.  It can never demonstrated that Job was not written in 3,000 BC or 2,000 BC or 1,000 BC.  The fact that something cannot be disproven, proves nothing.  I cannot disprove the fact that there are little green men living on the far side of the moon.  That however is no argument that they actually are there.

It can be proven that Job was not written in 1,000 AD however.  This is because is evidence, in the form of the LXX and DSS, that in fact there were written versions of Job around 100 BC, in both Greek and Hebrew


1) Job is said to own 3,000 camels.  It is pretty well established that camels were not domesticated too much before 1,000 BC.  Job is also presented as being a sedentary individual, not a migratory shepherd as would be more appropriate to a Israelite of the patriarchal era.

2) Job-like poems were an entire genre in Sumer and Babylon.  One of the earlier ones (Ludlul Bêl Nimeqi) was written around 1700 BC.  Now according to traditional chronologies, this is the period of Egyptian captivity for the Israelites.  Now how could the Sumerians be copying Israelite poetry when they were enslaved in Goshen and Pi-Ramesses.  

3) There is a misunderstanding about the argumentum ex silentio.  For example, Paul never mentions the virgin birth of Jesus in any of his letters.  Does this prove that Paul did not know about the virgin birth? No, it does not. This is an example of where the argument from silence is a logical fallacy.

4) There is a however a valid use for the *argument from silence.  I ask a man *Do you know Harry S Truman middle name?*.  He says *Yes*.  I ask him, *OK, what is it?*.  He says *I wont? tell you.*  *Well why not?* I reply.  *I won?t tell that either* he replies.  Here there is valid reason to question whether this man does know President Truman?s middle.  Here an argument from silence would be valid. (His middle name was S BTW).

5) The fact that the historical record is ?silent? as to the existence of a Hebrew Job around does not prove that there was not one.  It does prove there is no evidence for one.

David Kimbrough
San Gabriel

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