New Exodus, New Covenant, New Creation: The Reuse of the Old Testament in Joel
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The book of Joel has numerous parallels with other Old Testament texts, so much so that Joel has often been described as an interpreter of Scripture rather than a traditional prophet. Often, some of these parallels have been selected to support various claims about the redaction, composition, and the date of Joel or Joel’s role in the purported Book of the Twelve, instead of analyzing the entirety of Joel’s parallels first on their own terms. Additionally, various methodological approaches, including diachronic, synchronic, intertextual, and canonical studies, yield different analyses of Joel’s verbal parallels. This study attempts a diachronic analysis of Joel’s textual parallels in which Joel, as author, has invited the reader into meaning-making largely through textual allusion in which Joel as author guides the reader through textual clues. Each verbal parallel is assessed in four steps. First, verbal parallels are identified largely based upon shared lexemes. Second, the strength of the parallel is surveyed, as indicated through sustained lexical and syntactical parallels between the two texts, to determine evidence for a literary relationship between these texts. The evidence for how authoritative texts functioned in the ancient world in an oral/textual milieu supports the hypothesis that sustained lexical and syntactical parallels are due to literary reuse—even if the literary reuse was recalled via memory. Third, in addition to the relative date of each text, literary features are assessed to determine a plausible direction of dependence for the literary relationship. Finally, the instances where Joel has reused earlier texts are analyzed for their interpretive significance within and upon Joel’s prophecy. Joel reused authoritative historical, liturgical, and prophetic texts in a variety of ways as he crafted his message. Such reuse—the specific texts Joel reused and how he reused them in his creative process—provides insight into Joel’s theological vision. This study of reuse in the book of Joel found that Joel’s overt message regarding the Day of YHWH is undergirded by Joel’s theological vision for a new exodus leading to a new covenant and resulting in a new creation.