About the Minor Prophets
The term Minor Prophets is the popular name given to the last twelve books of the Old Testament. This is Christian terminology that is not consistent with what they were called by the ancient rabbis. They called them simply "the Twelve." When people encounter the term Minor Prophets they often think that these books are not as important as the other prophetic books. This is simply not the case. I have been told that the term Minor Prophets came into being just to simply indicate those prophets who wrote less, but I do not know if this is true or not. It is interesting, if this is the case, that they were maintained as a group as in the Hebrew canon.
Some divisions place all the books from Genesis to Esther in the category of historical books. For a long time I thought this was consistent with ancient tradition, then I learned that Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings had been called the Former Prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve were called the Latter Prophets.
Many who read this may be accustomed to calling Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and possibly Daniel the Major Prophets. The truth is that Daniel was not considered as one of the prophetic books, but was listed among the books characterized as writings. Though Daniel is one of the great prophetic books, giving insight into much contained in the Book of Revelation, it was not so listed in the Hebrew canon.
Sometimes the Minor Prophets or Twelve were referred to as the smaller prophets. This was an obvious reference to the size of the material they had recorded. The ancients often put these writings into one book or scroll because they were zealous that none of these books should be lost. These books were highly valued and better studied by the Hebrews than has been their fate during the Church Age.
The time span of the Minor Prophets is approximately from the ninth to fifth centuries B.C. If you see the terms B.C.E. or C.E. used on dates at times, I want to make what that means clear here. The term C.E. means Common Era and B.C.E. means Before the Common Era. This is a direct substitute for the date indicator A.D. and B.C.. It is used as an accommodation by people who are most comfortable using the Hebrew calendar dates, and sometimes by those who have not recognized the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah. To give you an example of what I mean, I can tell you I am writing this on the 20th of May 2003 A.D. or C.E. This corresponds to the 18 Iyar 5763 by the Hebrew calendar. I hope chasing this little rabbit will prove useful to some.
The dominant themes of these last Twelve books of the Old Testament like the other prophetic books concern the Messiah, Israel, the nations, and the earthly Kingdom of the Lord. To ignore them is to put our understanding of the Scripture and more importantly what God wants to communicate to us at risk.
One last thing before I close this out. When I first studied these books I neglected getting to know the prophets God used to communicate with us. I have found, as I have grown older that considering what I can learn about them from the text also teaches me a great deal. These are men who lived and worked, sacrificed and endured for their faith. They are wonderful folks to get to know.
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