Are the Minor Prophets Twelve Books or Just One?

Our question today is one not many readers of the Bible have probably thought about. Engaging the Christian Scripture is an introduction to the Bible but it is fully abreast of the most recent scholarship. Consider this short discussion regarding the Minor Prophets.

“Our look at the Latter Prophets has focused on the chronological order of the books and their tied to the historical materials in the Former Prophets. We considered the Major Prophets and those with particular significance in the movements of the history of ancient Israel and Judah. The prophetic books are, for the most part, collections of prophetic oracles spoken to the community in the time of the kings, the time of exile, and the time after return from Babylon. A number of Old Testament scholars today would suggest a slightly different emphasis, arguing that there are only four prophetic books: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Book of the Twelve. Scribes have gathered the Twelve, often unfortunately called the Minor Prophets, together as one prophetic collection. The editors collected the prophecies in mostly chronological order and pieced the oracles together with catchwords and similar themes to bring the book together as a whole. There were precursors to the Book of the Twelve, such as the collection of Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Zephaniah and the collection of Haggai and Zechariah 1-8. In each case the editors have purposely linked the books together to compose a whole with its own message. This perspective suggests that readers that the Twelve as chapters in one book of prophetic collections rather than as twelve different books and that reading the Twelve as a whole was an ancient tradition. This view is one of the intriguing developments in contemporary biblical scholarship.” (p. 102)

Engaging the Christian Scripture (Baker Academic) is by Andrew E. Arterbury. W.H. Bellinger Jr., and Derek Dodson. It is a paperback with 288 pages and sells for $26.99.

Andrew E. Arterbury (PhD, Baylor University) is associate professor of Christian Scriptures at Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University, in Waco, Texas.

W. H. Bellinger Jr. (PhD, University of Cambridge) is the W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chairholder in Bible, professor of religion, and chair of the Department of Religion at Baylor University. He is on the editorial board of Catholic Biblical Quarterly and has authored several volumes on the Psalms.

Derek S. Dodson (PhD, Baylor University) is senior lecturer in religion at Baylor University.

Engaging Scripture Apprvd M7.indd

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2 thoughts on “Are the Minor Prophets Twelve Books or Just One?

  1. Treating them as one “book of the twelve” does make it much easier to memorize their names 😉 I suppose one could also raise some eyebrows if they said they held to a 55 book canon…. could make for a fun ordination council.

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