[b-hebrew] Job: Who Influenced Whom?

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Fri Jun 11 15:25:53 EDT 2004

On 11/06/2004 09:34, david.kimbrough at charter.net wrote:

>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.

I take that as a retreat from your earlier statement "Job is a Hebrew 
rendition of a much older poem".

>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

Not in Greek, I think, as the earliest direct evidence for most of the 
LXX is 4th century CE. But there is, if I remember correctly, evidence 
among the DSS of an Aramaic version of Job, but not of any other 
biblical book.

>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. ...

This seems to be in dispute. See for example 
http://www.llamaweb.com/Camel/Info.html, which states that that 
dromedaries "were domesticated even earlier than the Bactrians, before 
3000 B.C. in the Arabian penninsula". This information is taken from the 
book, Medicine and Surgery of South American Camelids (Llama, Alpaca, 
Vicuna, Guanaco) by Dr. Murray E. Fowler - so certainly not from a book 
supporting a conservative view of the Bible.

>... 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.

Who says he is an Israelite? The text in fact more or less implies that 
he is not.

>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.  

When was this Sumerian poem first written? All you know, approximately, 
is the date of surviving copy or copies. They could be a copy of 
something much earlier. Or for that matter the book of Job could have 
been circulating in Sumer for centuries.

>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.

The historical record, if the Bible is excluded, is similarly silent on 
the existence of almost all Bible characters. Job is no different in 
this from most of the others. If we exclude the Bible as evidence, we 
can say there is no evidence for their existence. But there is no 
logical reason to exclude the Bible as evidence.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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