The Major Prophets and You > Free Bible Study Guides
These books were grouped together into one larger book called “the Twelve.” We call them minor prophets, but that’s due the relative brevity of these books. They contain major prophecies. =)
History in the Bible Podcast | Prophets of the Old Testament
The writings of the Old Testament of the Bible were preserved in three languages - Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, and have been passed on to us mainly through the following manuscripts: the Greek Septuagint from Alexandria; the newly discovered Dead Sea Scrolls of the Essenes; the Masoretic Hebrew text of Tiberias, Galilee; and the Targumim, Old Testament Books translated into Aramaic, as well as the Aramaic Peshitta Bible. The differing traditions have led to the disparity found in the Old Testament canons among Christian religions.
The diversity of language and manuscripts may be traced to the Diaspora, the dispersion of the Jewish people to the nations outside of Palestine. The major dispersion occurred during the period known as the Babylonian Exile, when the Jews were deported following the invasion by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The first deportation occurred in 597 BC following his first invasion, and the second major deportation to Babylon occurred following the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 587/586 BC. Many Israelites also fled to Egypt and flourished there. Following the arrival and Hellenistic influence of Alexander the Great in 332 BC and the founding of the city of Alexandria, they readily adopted the Greek language.
The oldest surviving translation of Hebrew Scripture was the Greek Septuagint, which was undertaken by Jewish scholars in Alexandria in the third century before Christ (BC). The Greek codices arranged the books in a division, in a different way than Hebrew Scripture, by placing the Law of Moses first, then the Historical Books, then the Wisdom books, and then the Prophets. The Greek Septuagint was in circulation at the time of Christ and was widely read. In fact, the majority of Old Testament quotations in the Greek New Testament were from the Greek Septuagint Old Testament, primarily from Psalms, Isaiah, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and the Book of the Twelve. For example, when Jesus read Isaiah (61:1-2) in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:16-19), he followed the language of the Greek Septuagint. The early Christian Churches referred to the Septuagint as their source of Scripture. In his famous work (Book 18, Chapter 43), St. Augustine of Hippo considered the Greek Septuagint the authoritative translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, and appeared to follow the wording of Exodus 20:17 in the Greek Septuagint and Deuteronomy 5:21 for his enumeration of the of God. The Orthodox Churches have retained the Septuagint for their canon of the Old Testament to the present day! The following is Genesis 1:1 from the Greek Septuagint:
The Hebrew canon for Judaism developed in stages. The divine inspiration of the Law was recognized as early as II Kings 22:8f, and reaffirmed as Scripture during the Restoration (Ezra 7:6, Nehemiah 8:1, Zechariah 7:12). The Prophets were accepted as inspired Scripture by the end of the second century BC (II Maccabees 2:13, 15:9; Sirach Foreword, 49:10). While the Psalms were uniformly regarded as Scripture, the final books of the Writings took time to be clearly defined. It is now known with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Writings or Hagiographa often varied with each religious sect.
Following the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD, the rabbinical school of the Pharisees in Jamnia became a center of religious thought. Faced with the affinity of the early Christians for the Greek Septuagint, it is believed that they refined the books traditional to Judaism, particularly the Writings. Jamnia considered 4 criteria to determine which of the Writings - such as Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Song of Songs - should be retained for the Hebrew canon for Judaism: the book should conform to the Torah; it was written before the time of Ezra (circa 450 BC); it was written in Hebrew; and it was composed in Judah or Israel.
The Hebrew canon for Judaism recognized 10 books less than the Canon of the Greek Septuagint. The Law contained the Pentateuch of Moses. The Prophets included the Former Prophets that are part of the Historical Books, the Major Prophets, and the Prophets of the Book of the Twelve. The Writings comprised a body of wisdom literature, history, poetry, and songs. The Masoretic Hebrew Text of Galilee developed from the eighth through tenth century AD confirmed the Hebrew canon for Judaism.
Introduction to Prophets in Old Testament
Here you can find quick, 3-minute guides to every book of the Old Testament. They’re listed in the order they show up in Protestant Bibles. Just click any book’s name, and get a high-level idea of what it’s about.