Building a Library: The Minor Prophets

In his inimitable style, our brother has provided us with a rich resource for the study of these often-neglected books.

Thirty five years ago while living and laboring in Malacca, it was my privilege to come with interest to the Twelve Hebrew Prophets as I prepared for a Bible Class held weekly after the remembrance meeting. Each one of these mighty books was read, considered, and then summarized. I prepared a handout, which afforded the interested reader a suggested outline of the book. My resources in those days, in terms of aids, were limited, so I was cast wholly upon God to help in my approach to each book. I reflect upon the exercise with thanksgiving, for God was gracious in helping me as I tried to interest an entirely new range of young believers in the study of the Word of God. Thankfully, I did have some helps. Then, as time increased, so did my resources. I used these after I had made my own approach to the twelve books, something which I strongly advise to all who read these lines. Before I come to some of the vast material now available, I humbly submit what I deem to be a practical, updated approach to the material these Twelve Prophets offer. This relates to the practical issues that abound today in both personal and corporate life. In Days of Apathy, when Ecclesiastical Confusion Abounds, read Haggai and Zechariah.

In Days of Affluence, when Material Conditions Affect the Testimony, read Joel and Amos.

In Days of Austerity, when Sacrificial Contributions are Absent, read Joel and Malachi.

In Days of Anxiety, when Personal Concern Assails the Soul, read Habakkuk and Jonah.

In Days of Alarm, when External Conflicts Afflict the Saints, read Obadiah and Nahum.

In Days of Abasement, when a Spiritual Crisis Arises and Leaders Fail, read Zephaniah and Micah.

In (1) No Building, (2) No Balance, (3) No Blessing, (4) No Believing, (5) No Betterment, (6) No Burden.

Few of the present, and indeed past, writers on these books are sound on dispensational interpretation. By far the greater number of expositors follows a distinctly amillennial stance. Regrettably few, if any, assembly writers of recent times have submitted material that could be classified as helps. However, the Precious Seed symposium is worth attention. I must not fail to mention F. E. Tatford’s work on these Prophets. Though difficult, I would think, to obtain, his writings are useful contributions, which will in no way lead the reader into any bypath meadow on the prophetic interpretation of these writings that close our Old Testament. Let us not relax in our vigilance in this realm, because it will prove almost overwhelming to observe that little time or credit is given to the writers that follow a dispensational approach to these books. Tremper Longman III, in his Old Testament Commentary Survey, for example, pays little credit to Charles E. Feinburg for his dispensational interpretation.

Feinburg’s work once existed in five volumes, but is now comfortably housed in one volume which I heartily recommend as one of the best and most useful works on the subject I know (The Minor Prophets, C.E. Feinburg, Moody Press 1980).

In a day when many writers have adopted the higher critical approach, the result is scholar being pitted against scholar in emending and rearranging the text of Holy Scripture, and on this basis subjectively interpreting the prophet without being able to reach any unanimous conclusion. Multitudes of writers on these books have fallen prey to subjective emendations and arbitrary conclusions which makes it essential for the reader, and indeed the buyer, to be vigilant.

On a general note, though care again has to be observed, Dr. Pusey’s two-volume work on the Minor Prophets will be useful for details not readily found in lesser volumes ( E. B. Pusey, Minor Prophets, Baker 1970). C. Von Orelli is credited as having defended the integrity of the Old Testament in a day when German Higher Criticism was at its evil worst influencing expositors worldwide. This is a comprehensive work reprinted by Klock and Klock 1977.

Two volumes of worth, from which I have greatly benefitted, are (1) A Commentary on the Minor Prophets by Homer Hailey (Baker Book House 1973) and (2) An Introduction to Old Testament Prophets by Hobart E. Freeman (Moody Press 1971). James Montgomery Boice writes two volumes on the Minor Prophets and they will appeal to the more practical-minded reader who would be satisfied with practical interpretations and messages rather than an expositional exegesis (Zondervan 1983).

There is a valuable series only found now in the shelves of the secondhand dealers. They have proved most enlightening as I peruse these great areas of Scripture. This series is the Hand-Books for Bible Classes and Private Students. These were printed by T&T Clark, back in 1881 and are excellent in my judgment. Then, too, keep searching for those volumes on this area of Scripture presented under the title: The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Though small, they are sufficient to meet a need and to create interest in the study of the area about which we know so little.

There are some very useful individual works on these Prophets that must be mentioned. I am sorry that I am not directly cognizant of volumes on each of the Prophets directly, so some recommendations that follow are confessedly without my personal acquaintance, though most are.

Hubbard, D.A. TOTC. Inter-Varsity 1989.

Joel, Dillard, R. B. The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical Commentary. Baker 1992

Amos, Motyer, J. A. The Day of the Lion. BST. Inter-Varsity, 1974

Obadiah, Baker, D.W. TOIC. Inter-Varsity 1988

Jonah, Alexander T.D. TOTC. Inter-Varsity 1988

Micah, Waltke, B. K. TOTC. Inter-Varsity 1988

Nahum, Maier Walter A. Thorn-apple Commentaries, Baker 1980

Habakkuk, Bruce F.F. The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical Commentary. Baker 1992

Zephaniah, Baker, D. W. TOTC. Inter-Varsity 1988

Haggai, Baldwin, J. G. TOTC. Inter-Varsity 1972

Zecharia, Unger M. F. Zondervan 1970

Feinberg C. L . Multonah Press 1977

David Baron, HCTI, Malachi Kaiser, W. C. Baker 1984.