Joel - Introduction
Few books can match Joel for drama. From the opening description of locust plagues, through pictures of ruin and restoration, visions and cosmic omens, and the war of the LORD against “a noisy throng in the valley of Decision,” the poetry crackles with energy and stretches the mind with the visionary power of a remarkably gifted prophet.
We know nothing about this astonishing person, not even the date of his book. Some scholars place it as early as 600 B.C.E., others as late as 350. The references in 3.4–8 to foreign nations are too vague to allow precise dating, nor can the locust plague described in ch. 1 be identified by date. The picture of religious observances in chs. 1–2 leads most scholars to place Joel in the time of the second temple, perhaps 450–400 B.C.E.
Joel concentrates on God's ultimate victory, pursuing the eschatological implications of the locust plague and other contemporary events, and using a visionary, highly symbolic style. In Joel the prophetic manner carries on from the past, as in Ezekiel and Zechariah (chs. 1–6 ), toward such later apocalyptic books as Daniel and Revelation.