Question:

Which book is believed to bethe oldest book in the Bible? I found the following points:

  • Many scholars agree that Job is the oldest book in the Bible, written by an unknown Israelite about 1500 B.C.
  • Others hold that the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) are the oldest books in the Bible, written between 1446 and 1406 B.C.
  • Job is generally considered to have been written first, but it is not altogether clear when and by whom.
  • The fact that we do not know whowrote itor exactly when does not negate its worth authenticity and value in teaching God's inspired word.


Answer:

Job is believed to have been written around the time of Abraham for the following reasons:

  • It takes place during the Patriarchal Age when heads of families offered sacrifices to God (Job 1:5; 42:7-9). And heads of families received instruction from God (Job 22:22; 23:12).
  • It contains no hints regarding Abraham, Moses, Israel, the Judges, the Kings, or Prophets of Israel. Nor is there any mention of the Law of Moses.
  • The rapid drift into idolatry does not appear to have happened yet. All mentioned still believe in the God of creation (Job 27:3; 33:4-6).
  • There are mentions of the creation (Job 9:8-9; 12:7-10; 26:13; 38:4), the fall of man (Job 31:33, 40; 34:14-15), the flood (Job 12:14-15; 22:15-17), the covenant of Noah (Job 26:10; 38:8-11), and the scattering of the people (Job 12:17, 20-25).
  • A number of the ancient tribes or nations still retain names closely associated with those who were scattered: Chaldeans (Job 1:17), Cush (or Ethiopia) (Job 28:19), Ophir (Job 28:16), Sabaeans (Job 1:15), Sheba (Job 6:19), Uz (Job 1:1).
  • There are mentions of names closely associated to Abraham. Multiple people could have the same name, but often names come and go in fads:
    • Tema (Job 6:19) was a son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:15)
    • Teman (Job 2:11) was a grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:15)
    • Shuah (Job 2:11) was a son of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:2)
    • Buz (Job 32:2) was a nephew of Abraham (Genesis 22:21)
  • The length of lifespans was still high. Job lived 140 years after the main events of the concluded and Job was already an old man (Job 42:16).

The book of Genesis appears to be a collection of earlier records edited by Moses. (See "An Introduction to Genesis" for more details). So in one sense the elements of the collection are older records, for one is the records of Adam (Genesis 5:1), but if you only count from the time they were assembled by Moses, then they would come after Job.