FACTS ON JOB

Author

The book of Job is anonymous.  The Talmud (Baba Bathra 14b) attributes the
work to Moses, but there does not seem to be any internal evidence to support this
suggestion.  

Date of Writing

There is a wide divergence of opinion concerning the date of composition.  Five
main views are held by biblical scholars:

1.  The patriarchal age, before the time of Moses.
2.  The reign of Solomon (10th century B.C.)
3.  The reign of Manasseh (seventh century B.C.)
4.  The time of Jeremiah (late seventh century B.C.)
5.  The Babylonian exile (6th century B.C.)

A number of conservative scholars date the writing during the reign of Solomon
who was noted for his literary pursuits.

Historical Setting

Internal evidence suggests that the Patriarchal age (2000-1000 B.C.)
provides the historical setting for the book.  This accounts for Job's patriarchal family-
clan organization and sacrifice, and his longevity (140 + years).  This would also
account for the lack of reference to Israel, the exodus, or the Mosaic law.  The events
of the book reflect a non-Hebraic background, for Job lived in the district of Uz located
in northern Arabia.

Purpose

Many believe that Job was written to consider the problem, "Why do the
righteous suffer?"  While the problem of suffering may provide the historical setting for
the book, the author presents an even more significant issue--the problem of
faith and doubt.  

The story of Job leads the reader to consider, "How do you maintain faith in God
in the face of such devastating trials?  How do you go on believing in God in times of
His apparent absence?"  The book of Job is intended to demonstrate that it is possible
to keep faith through trial.

Theme        Keeping faith in times of trial.

Outline

I.  THE TRAGEDY OF JOB (Introduction)             1-2       
II.  THE STRUGGLE OF JOB (Speeches)             3:1-42:6  
III.  THE TRIUMPH OF JOB (Conclusion)               42:7-17   


FACTS ON PSALMS

Author

Although many psalms are anonymous, quite a number identify the author.  
The authors and their psalms include:

1.  David (3-9, 11-32, 34-41, 51-65, 68-70, 86, 101, 103, 108-110, 122, 124,
     131, 133, 138-145)  73 total
2.   Asaph (50, 73-83)  12 total
3.   Sons of Korah (42, 44-45, 47-49, 84-85, 87)  9 total
4.   Solomon (72, 127)  2 total
5.   Heman the Ezrahite (88)  1
6.   Ethan the Ezrahite (89)  1
7.   Moses (90)  1

Date of Writing

The earliest of the psalms would be Psalm 90, written by Moses (c. 1440
B.C.).  The Davidic psalms would have been composed between 1020 and 975 B.C.
and those of Asaph during approximately the same period.  Psalms 72 and 127 date
from Solomon's reign, around 950 B.C.  The psalms of the descendants of Korah and
the two Ezrahites were probably pre-exilic.  Psalm 126 and 137 date from the return of
the exiles.  There is little evidence for dating any of the psalms later than c. 500 B.C.

Historical Setting

Thirteen psalms give the historical setting out of which they were composed.  These include:
Psalm 3, 7, 18, 34, 51, 52, 54, 56, 57, 59, 60, 63, and 142.  It is hazardous to attempt to
reconstruct the historical setting of a psalm where none is clearly indicated.  

Purpose

The purpose of Psalms is to express the religious sentiments of God's people
and ultimately praise God.  

Theme

The praise of God--the public acknowledgment of His greatness and
goodness.  


FACTS ON PROVERBS

Author

Solomon is the most noteworthy author and contributor of the book (1:1,
10:1, 25:1).  Two sections of Proverbs (22:17-23:14 and 24:23-34) are attributed to "the
wise."  Proverbs 30:1-30 was written by Agur the son of Jakeh, and Proverbs 31:1-9 is
said to be the sayings of king Lemuel.  

Date of Writing

While most of the proverbs were written during the lifetime of Solomon, the final
form of the book could not have appeared before the time of king Hezekiah (25:1).
The book was probably in its completed and final form around 700 B.C.

Historical Setting

According to Jeremiah 18:18 the religious life of the Hebrews was molded by the
prophets, the priests, and the wise men.  Although the wise men were never as
prominent in national life as the priests and prophets, they did exert a considerable
influence as teachers of wisdom.  Their sayings enshrined certain truths gleaned from
the experience of life, and were intended to serve as practical guidelines for successful living.  
The instruction of the wise involved a practical knowledge and an ability to use knowledge
effectively.  Their great concern was for the application of divine truth to human experience.  
The most preeminent among the wise was Solomon (1 Kings 3:9-12), the author and contributor
of most of Proverbs.  

Purpose

The purpose of Proverbs, recorded in 1:2-4, is to know wisdom and allow it
to govern one's life.  

Theme

The theme of Proverbs is the distinctive motto of the wisdom teachers (Prov. 1:7,
Job 28:28, Ecc. 12:13), "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."
Reverence toward God is the essential prelude to all wisdom and successful living.

Outline

I.  THE INTRODUCTION TO PROVERBS  1:1-7
II.  THE DISCOURSES ON WISDOM  1:8-9:18
III.  THE PROVERBS OF SOLOMON  10:1-22:16
IV.  THE WORDS OF THE WISE  22:17-24:34
V.  PROVERBS OF SOLOMON RECORDED BY HEZEKIAH'S MEN  25:1-29:27        
VI.  THE WORDS OF AUGUR BEN JAKEH  30
VII.  THE WORDS OF KING LEMUEL  31:1-9
VIII.  THE DESCRIPTION OF A WORTHY WOMAN  31:10-31


FACTS ON ECCLESIASTES

Author

The author identifies himself as the "son of David, king of Jerusalem."  While
Solomon is not specified as the author, he is the most likely candidate.  References
to the author's unrivaled wisdom (1:16), unequaled wealth (2:7), opportunities for
pleasure (2:3), and extensive building activities (2:4-6) support the Talmudic tradition
that Solomon authored the book (Megilla 7a and Shabbath 30).

Date of Writing

If Solomon was indeed the author of Ecclesiastes, then the work was probably
composed late in his life (c. 935 B.C.).  At the end of Solomon's life he would have
been able to draw upon his great wisdom and unsurpassed experience to provide very
helpful and wise instruction.  The writer's consciousness of old age and death (2:18,
12:1-7) would indicate that the book was written toward the end of his life.

Historical Setting

The book appears to be an address by Qohelet to an assembly of the wise
(cf. 1 Kings 4:31).  Wise men in ancient Israel were one media which God used to
communicate His truth to man (Jer. 18:18).  They gave people counsel and presented
wisdom from life and by divine inspiration.  The book may have been the record of
Solomon's wisdom instruction at an assembly of the wise during the latter days of his
life.  

Purpose

Ecclesiastes demonstrates that it is utterly futile to assimilate all the
riddles and paradoxes of life.  God simply has not revealed the answers to all of life's
inconsistencies to man.  In light of the futility of trying to put all of life together, man
must live by faith and use this one opportunity to live life to the fullest.  The book
is intended to show that there is no contradiction between enjoying life to its fullest and
living in obedience to God.    

Theme    

Enjoy God's gift of life to the fullest, living in obedience to God with an awareness of impending
judgment (2:24, 12:13-14).  

Outline

I.  THE PROLOGUE  1:1-11
II.  THE PARADOXES OF LIFE  1:12-2:26
III.  THE SOVEREIGN DESIGN OF GOD  3:1-11
IV.  THE FUTILITY CAUSED BY SUFFERING  4:1-5:20
V.  THE FUTILITY OF RICHES  6:1-12
VI.  THE COUNSEL CONCERNING WISDOM AND FOLLY  7:1-14
VII.  THE ADVANTAGES AND LIMITATIONS OF WISDOM  7:15-8:15
VIII.  THE SUMMARY OF SOLOMON'S QUEST  8:16-9:10
IX.  THE LESSONS ON WISDOM  9:17-11:8
X.  THE INSTRUCTION TO A YOUNG MAN  11:9-12:7
XI.  THE EPILOGUE  12:8-14


FACTS ON SONG OF SOLOMON

Author

The book is attributed to Solomon (1:1).  This is confirmed by the repeated
references to royal luxury and costly imported products such as spikenard (1:12), myrrh
(1:13), frankincense (3:6), silver, gold, purple, ivory, and beryl--items with which only
royalty would be so familiar. Only someone with Solomon's great knowledge of natural
history (1 Kings 4:33) could have made reference to twenty-one varieties of plant life
and fifteen species of animals.  

Date of Writing

The indiscriminate mention of geographical localities found in both the Northern
and Southern Kingdoms would suggest that the work was composed before the
division of the monarchy.  The Song of Solomon was probably composed by
Solomon sometime during his reign as king in Jerusalem (970-931 B.C).

Historical Setting

The Song of Songs is a lyric dialogue accompanied by a certain dramatic
movement.  A true story in the life of Solomon and a young lady lies at the background
of the song.    

King Solomon apparently had a vineyard in the mountains of Lebanon (4:8, 8:11)
which he entrusted to caretakers consisting of a mother, two sons (1:6) and two
daughters--the Shulammite (6:13) and a little sister (8:8).  While traveling in the north,
Solomon encountered the lovely Shulammite maiden.  He spoke loving words to her
(1:8-10) and won her affection (2:16).  Eventually, Solomon took the Shulammite to
Jerusalem to become his bride (3:6-7).  

Purpose

The purpose of the book is to set forth the beauty and purity of wedded
love and its expression.  The book also warns against arousing one's passions before
there is a pleasing, God-honoring relationship and a proper marriage union.

Theme   The purity and beauty of wedded love as a divine gift.

Outline

I.  THE MUTUAL AFFECTION OF THE BRIDE AND BRIDEGROOM  1:1-2:7
II.  THE SHULAMMITE SPEAKS AND DREAMS OF HER BELOVED  2:8-3:5
III.  THE SHULAMMITE'S MARRIAGE TO SOLOMON  3:6-5:1
IV.  THE SHULAMMITE DREAMS OF SEPARATION FROM SOLOMON  5:2-6:3
V.  THE SHULAMMITE AND SOLOMON ARE REUNITED  6:4-13
VI.  THE PRAISE OF SOLOMON FOR HIS BELOVED SHULAMMITE  7:1-8:4
VII.  THE VISIT TO THE SHULAMMITE'S COUNTRY HOME  8:5-14
Wisdom Books

Job - Song of Solomon