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Tuesday
May272014

Theological Term of the Week

Prophetic Books
Seventeen books of the Old Testament containing written collections of oracles of sixteen prophets. These can be divided into two groups: Major Prophets—Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentation, Ezekiel, and Daniel—and Minor Prophets—Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

  • The introduction to the book of Isaiah:

    The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. (Isaiah 1:1 ESV)

  • The introduction to the book of Jeremiah:
    The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month. (Jeremiah 1:1-3 ESV)
  • From Introduction to the Prophetic Books in the ESV Study Bible (pdf), a list of unifying themes in the Prophetic Books:
  • First, the prophets assert that God has spoken through them. They clearly considered themselves God’s messengers and heralds, for they repeatedly preface their messages with the phrase, “Thus says Yahweh.” In this way the prophets are claiming that their books are the written word of God.  … 
    Second, the prophets affirm that God chose Israel for covenant relationship. The Pentateuch (the first five books of the OT) teaches that God chose Abraham and his family to bless all nations (Gen. 12:1–9), that he revealed salvation by grace to Abraham (Gen. 15:6), and that he assigned Moses to write a record of this revelation (Ex. 24:4). Furthermore, through Moses in Exodus–Deuteronomy he revealed the lifestyle that reflects that relationship. With these truths in mind, the prophets addressed Israel as a people with special responsibilities based on this special relationship (Jeremiah 2–6; Hosea 1–3; Amos 2:6–3:8; etc.).  … 
    Third, sadly, the prophets most often report that the majority of Israel has sinned against their God and his standards for their relationship. They have failed to trust God(Isa.7:1–14). Thus, they have broken the Ten Commandments (cf. Ex. 20:1–17 and Jer. 7:1–15; Hos. 4:2). They have worshiped other gods (Ezek. 8:1–18). They have mistreated one an- other and failed to preserve justice among God’s people (Isa. 1:21–31). They have refused to repent (Amos 4:6–11). Of course, in these times there was always a faithful minority, called the “remnant” (see Isa. 4:3; 10:20–22; etc.), as the prophets’ ministries themselves demonstrate (see Hebrews 11).
    Fourth, the prophets warn that judgment will eradicate sin.  … The prophets recorded these warnings in writ- ing so readers can do what the prophets’ original audience usually failed to do—turn from sin to God.
    Fifth, the prophets promise that renewal lies beyond the day of punishment that has occurred already in history and beyond the coming day that will bring history as we know it to a close. The coming of the Savior lies beyond the destruction of Israel and other such events. He will rule Israel and the nations, and he will bring peace and righteousness to the world (Isa. 9:2–7; 11:1–16).  … 

Learn more:

  1. MacArthur Study Bible: Introduction to the Prophets
  2. GotQuestions.org: What are the Major Prophets and Minor Prophets?
  3. Barry McWilliams: The Prophets: Foretelling the Character of God (pdf)
  4. J. Hampton Keathley III: The Major Prophets; The Minor Prophets
  5. Christopher Lensch: Introduction to Old Testament Prophetic Literature (pdf)
  6. Timothy Tow: The Minor Prophets (pdf)
  7. Richard Bauckham: The Four Gospels and the Other Gospels: Is Our Canon Right? (audio)

Related terms:

Filed under Scripture

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