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Biblical Study Break: Minor Prophets in the Hebrew Bible
- Course Dates: Mon 2 November, 1:00 pm to Thu 5 November, 2:00 pm
This course will consider historical contexts and theological concepts in minor prophetic literature
There will be a focus on Amos, Jonah, Zephaniah and Malachi in particular, as well as considerations of the reception of minor prophets in ancient religious literature more broadly.
Minor prophetic literature is an understudied and often misunderstood genre of the Hebrew Bible. What did Amos intend to accomplish with his rousing, politically-laden speeches? Why did Jonah disobey God’s command? What does Zephaniah understand justice and love to be? What was Malachi’s mission and why did he care so much about the ancient Abrahamic covenant between God and the patriarch Abraham? What do these prophets have in common, and what makes a prophet anyway? These are just some of the questions which we will turn our attention to in this course, by considering minor prophetic literature through a historical, theological and reception-history based lens. We will begin by exploring the historical contexts of the prophetic books of Amos, Jonah, Zephaniah and Malachi with regard to their political, social and economic situation in the ancient world. Contextualising the books within their own history illuminates certain theological themes present within the writings, including restorative and social justice, divine judgment, repentance and forgiveness, covenantal expectations, human-divine relationships and love. These themes, however, are often revealed when the books are read through a literary or narratological perspective, so this course will also consider how approaching minor prophetic books from such perspectives opens them up to new interpretations and meaning. The final section of the course will consider historical, theological and literary contexts of the prophetic books more broadly by discussing the reception of prophetic literature in ancient religious literature, across historical traditions and into the present day, an analysis which draws attention the continued relevance of minor prophetic literature in contemporary society.