Study Guide

The Twelve Minor Prophets Genre

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The Minor Prophets is a collection of … wait for it … prophecy. But what does that mean?

The word “prophet” comes from an ancient Greek word referring to an interpreter, herald or spokesperson, or representative. In this case, the person doing the prophet-ing is speaking on behalf of God, much like Aaron speaks on behalf of his brother Moses in the Torah.

The Minor Prophets take representing God seriously. They mercilessly skewer professional prophets precisely because these careerists have learned the formula that hanging around the temple and king + currying favor for cash = profit. For NCAA-certified amateurs such as Amos and Micah, being a prophet means not looking out for oneself, which is also a reflection of their broader social ethic.

Although predicting the future is what comes to mind when most people think about prophets, that’s not the only thing prophets do. Prophets also give strategic advice (“Don’t form an alliance with Egypt, you numbskulls!”) and tell people the unvarnished truth about what they’ve done wrong.

But wait, there’s more! Just because they’re serious prophets doesn’t mean they can’t dabble. The books of the Minor Prophets include poetry, songs, apocalyptic literature (a subset of prophecy) and narrative, including one—Jonah—that could be a satirical allegory.

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