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Virtual Museum Tours

http://www.mesopotamia.co.uk/menu.html

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http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~semitic/HOAI/adultmain.cgi

Human Origins Sourcebook

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Reference Material

http://eawc.evansville.edu/chronology/nepage.htm

http://www.bible-history.com/

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/jewhist.html

http://religion.ucumberlands.edu/hebrewbible/hbnotes/geonotes.htm

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/asbook06.html

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http://www.bibletexts.com/bt.htm#introduction

 

Welcome

To

Old Testament Survey

Introduction to the Bible

 

I. General Information About the Text

       A. Old Testament

       The Old Testament is written mostly in Hebrew, except for the following sections which are written in Aramaic (constituting about one percent of the Old Testament): Genesis 31:47 (two words), Jeremiah 10:11, Ezra 4:8-6:18; 7:12-26, and Daniel 2:4b-7:28.

              1. The languages of the Old Testament

                     a. Introduction

       The Semitic family of languages do not include the oldest known languages -- that honor goes to Sumerian, a unique language which is part of no known language family and bears no resemblance to any other known language; it was written with cuneiform characters. The earliest evidence for Semitic tongues are Akkadian texts dating back into the third millennium B.C. Semitic is distantly related to the Hamitic family of languages, which includes Egyptian, and so in its earliest roots, the two are combined into what is called Hamito-semitic. At a point in prehistory, they split into what is called proto- Semitic and proto-Hamitic. From these, arise Egyptian in the Hamitic branch, and on the Semitic side, the northwest Semitic languages of Ugaritic, Moabite, Aramaic and Hebrew and the Southeast Semitic languages such as Akkadian (divisible into two dialects, Babylonian and Assyrian). The earlier Semitic languages, such as Akkadian and Ugaritic have a case system which identifies what role a noun is playing in a sentence. That is, a "U" tacked on to the end of the word, as in Shar, the Babylonian word for prince, gives the form Sharu, telling the reader that the word is the subject of the sentence, as in "The Prince hears the Princess". An "A" tacked on to the end -- Shara -- makes the word the object, as in "the Princess hears the Prince." And an "I" tacked on at the end as in Shari makes the word possessive, as in "the Prince of the Princess".
       In later Semitic languages such as Hebrew, the case system has disappeared, so that word order now indicates the job assignments that were previously provided by the case endings. Hebrew is one of the latest of the known Semitic languages. Even Arabic, another Semitic language, appears more ancient in its forms, since it preserves the old Semitic case structure.
       The different Semitic languages bear a general similarity with each other, as for instance with the word for "sun". In Akkadian it is shamash, in Arabic it is shamps and in Hebrew it is shemesh.

                     b. Hebrew

       Hebrew was the language of the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel and Judah respectively. It was used by the Jews until the time of the Babylonian captivity, when the language of the court, Aramaic, came more and more to replace it. When the Jewish people returned from the Babylonian captivity around 536 B.C. the Hebrew language had undergone some significant changes. Aramaic words had been added to the vocabulary, and the alphabet was changed from the Old Hebrew characters to the newer square Aramaic script -- which is the form still in use today. After the fall of Jerusalem AD 70 and the subsequent dispersion, Hebrew, already barely more than a liturgical language (used in the Synagogue for reading scripture), ceased to be spoken altogether. Hebrew remained a dead language, known only to scholars until the end of the nineteenth century. With the rise of the Zionist movement in Europe, some Jews started to revive Hebrew as a spoken tongue, so those Jews who moved back into Palestine began speaking to one another in the old Biblical language. Today, the official language of the modern nation of Israel is Hebrew and except for the addition of a few new words to account for technological change -- like airplane and automobile and the like -- the Modern Hebrew language is virtually identical to that of the Bible.

                     c. Aramaic

       Aramaic, not to be confused with the language spoken by the Arabs today -- which is called Arabic -- is a Semitic language used by the neo- Babylonians of the time of Nebuchadnezzar II (cf. Book of Daniel). It became the major language of the ancient Near East and was spoken and written by most nations of the area until the rise of Islam subjugated it and replaced it with Arabic.
       The language most commonly spoken in Israel in Jesus' day was Aramaic and in fact it is the language that Jesus himself spoke. A few snatches are recorded in the New Testament, but most of what remains are translations of his words into Greek, the language used by the New Testament writers. They used Greek because it was the language of the Roman Empire and the writers of the New Testament were concerned that the message of the gospel should get as wide a readership as possible. The translational nature of Christ's words can be seen, for example, in the wording of the beatitudes; Luke writes simply "blessed are the poor", while Matthew writes "blessed are the poor in spirit". The reason for the slight difference in the wording results from the underlying Aramaic word for "poor", which has both ideas contained within it; Matthew, therefore, was a bit more precise in his translation, since the Greek word for poor generally -- like the English term -- refers only to those who lack material benefits.

       B. New Testament

       The New Testament is written entirely in Greek, except, as has already been indicated, for a few Aramaic words or phrases: Matthew 27:33, Matthew 27:46, Mark 5:41, Mark 15:22, Mark 15:34, and John 19:17.

              1. Greek

       Though the native language of the Romans was Latin, the language of the Empire, and especially the eastern half of the empire where the Jews lived, was Greek; the Greeks, though militarily weak, had been culturally powerful, leaving their mark on Roman thinking in everything from their language and theology, to their laws and philosophy. If a person knew Greek, he could get along well in the Roman Empire, just as today, if a person knows English, he'll do better than a person who doesn't.

              2. The Manuscripts of the Bible

       For the Old Testament, the traditional text is what is known as the Masoretic. The Masoretes were Jewish scholars who worked diligently between the 6th and 10th centuries A.D. in Babylonia and Palestine to reproduce, as far as possible, the original text of the Old Testament. Their intention was not to interpret the Bible, but to transmit to future generations what they regarded as the authentic text. Therefore, to this end, they gathered manuscripts and whatever oral traditions were available to them.
       They were careful to draw attention to any peculiarities they found in the spellings of words or the grammar of sentences in the Old Testament, and since Hebrew in their day was a dying language, they introduced a series of vowel signs to insure the correct pronunciation of the text, since traditionally, the text was written with consonants only. Among the various systems developed to represent the vowel sounds, the system developed in the city of Tiberias, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, gained the ascendancy.
       The earliest complete copy of the Masoretic text of the Old Testament is located in the St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad) Public Library; it was written about 1008 A.D.
       The Masoretic text is not a single, unbroken thread, but rather a river of manuscripts, with both a western and eastern branch; within the texts labeled "Masoretic" there is a certain amount of variation and the Masoretes carefully noted the differences in the texts that they used as their sources. Therefore, it must be stressed that the so-called "Textus Receptus" that one may hear of occasionally (especially from those who believe that the King James Version is the only acceptable translation) is mostly a pious fiction; it is a concept that has little basis in reality beyond wishful thinking.
       Remember, too, that English is not the only language that the Bible has been translated into. It has been translated into over two thousand languages by scholars using the original Greek and Hebrew texts.
       The earliest copies of Old Testament books are called the Dead Sea Scrolls, a body of biblical manuscripts discovered since 1947 inside caves near a place called Qumran, right next to the Dead Sea in Israel. The texts all date prior to 70 A.D., the period when the community at Qumran was destroyed by the Romans following the Jewish revolt. Some texts date as far back as 150- 200 B.C., based on epigraphic dating and Carbon 14 dating.
       Other manuscripts useful for establishing the text of the Old Testament are as follows:

 

  • The Septuagint -- a translation of the Old Testament into Greek, made in Alexandria, Egypt about 250 B.C. There are several versions, with minor variations among them. They are: the Codex Sinaiticus, which dates to the fourth century A.D., the Codex Alexandrinus, which dates to the fifth century A.D, and the Codex Vaticanus, also of the fourth century A.D.
  • The Samaritan Pentateuch. A copy of the first five books of Moses kept by the Samaritans in Samaritan characters. It is notorious for some deliberate alterations designed to legitimize the Samaritan place of worship on Mt. Gerizim (cf. John 4:20).
  • Peshitta. The Syriac translation of the Old and New Testaments. Syriac is an Aramaic dialect. The translation was done sometime between 75 and 200 A.D.
  • Vulgate. The Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments that was made by Jerome about 400 A.D.II.

II. The Nature of Translation

       A. How translation occurs

       It is important to realize -- and most people who have not learned a second language wouldn't know -- that there is no such thing as a one-to-one correspondence between languages. You cannot have a word for word translation that is at all readable, because the word order is different, the nature of the grammar is different and even the sense of a word may cover a wider or smaller range than the corresponding English word.
       For instance, the word "house" in Hebrew can mean "immediate family" or "a royal dynasty" besides the equivalent English idea of a building where a person dwells. Therefore to have an accurate English translation you cannot simply translate the Hebrew word with "house"; you need to translate it according to which of the possible meanings is intended.
       Idioms, likewise, do not translate across directly: for instance the English phrase "I'm sick and tired of apple pie" if translated literally could give a reader in another language the false impression that the individual in question is sleepy and ready to throw up.
       Consider the following "literal translation" of the first verse of the Bible, which maintains the Hebrew word order and phrasing and ask yourself if it is easily comprehensible:

In-beginning he-created God (definite direct object) the-heavens and-(definite direct object) the-earth.

       But even this is not entirely accurate in a word for word sense, because Hebrew does not have a true past tense; however, there is no other way to indicate perfect aspect (completed action). However, when one of the prophets makes use of the perfect aspect to show the certainty of the prophesy, to translate it as a past tense can create the false impression that the prophet is speaking of things that have already happened when that is not the case at all! And in front of the single words (they are only one word in Hebrew) "the-heavens" and "the-earth" is the Hebrew word that indicates that what follows is a definite direct object, as you can see, hardly translatable into English at all.
       Having said all this, one would imagine that this first verse is a complicated sentence. Not at all. It is remarkably simple. It only becomes difficult if we expect translation to be "literal". It isn't. All translation, by its very nature, is paraphrastic and interpretive.
       The way translation happens is as follows. The translator learns a foreign language and learns it well. Learning Hebrew or Greek is just like learning French or Spanish in high school. There is nothing mysterious or special about the ancient languages. Then the translator reads the foreign text and understands it. Having understood it, he or she then puts it into the best English possible.
       There is no mystery associated with the translation of the Bible, nor are there any significant disagreements between translations. However, by the nature of what translation is -- the work of individuals with their own separate styles -- the wording of say, Today's English Version is not going to be identical to the King James Version or the New International Version. Not because anyone is trying to twist something or make it say what it doesn't, but only because each translator is going to word it as he thinks best. But the MEANING will be the same. And of course between the King James and the more modern translations there is also the gap caused by the change in the English language -- we don't speak like the people in Shakespeare's time did, but their way of speaking is no "grander" or any more "eloquent" than ours. King James English was the way any farmer or fisherman of 1611 would have talked, just as Today's English Version or the New International Version is the way an average person speaks today. For all the snobbishness of attitude on the part of some regarding Shakespeare today, in his own day he was considered somewhat vulgar and not a little risque. Shakespeare was like an ordinary television drama or sitcom is for us today.

       B. Textual criticism

       One other change since the time of the King James translation, of course, is the improvement in the texts that are available to today's translators. They are older and that much closer to the original; moreover, the methods of textual criticism -- the science of comparing the different and sometimes inconsistent manuscripts and determining which one is the closest to the original reading -- have advanced considerably since the 1600's.
       The history of the biblical texts shows clearly that all of them stand far removed from the originals both by time and by the process of transmission. They contain not only scribal errors, but even some actual transformations of the text, both deliberate and accidental. By means of textual criticism we attempt to find all the alterations that have occurred and then recover the earliest possible form of the text.

              1. Methods

Textual criticism proceeds in three steps:

 

a. All the variant readings of the text are collected and arranged. Of course, this is the very reason textual criticism is necessary at all. If we had only a single copy, there would be no questions, but since we have several, which all say different things, we have a problem. Which text accurately records the original statements?
b. The variants must then be examined.
c. The most likely reading is then determined. For the Old Testament, in order to carry out these steps, it is necessary to use the Masoretic Text, which ordinarily serves as the basis from which the textual critic will work. Combined with the Masoretic Text the critic will consult all the ancient Hebrew manuscripts and versions that might be available.

              2. The most important Hebrew manuscripts for Old Testament textual criticism are:

 

a. The St. Petersburg (or Leningrad) Codex, 1008 A.D. It is the largest and only complete manuscript of the entire Old Testament.
b. The Aleppo Codex, 930 A.D. It used to be a complete copy of the Old Testament, but was partially destroyed in a synagogue fire in 1948.
c. The British Museum Codex, 950 A.D. It is an incomplete copy of the Pentateuch.
d. The Cairo Codex, 895 A.D. A copy of the Former and Latter Prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve minor prophets).
e. The Leningrad (St. Petersburg) Codex of the Prophets, 916 A.D. containing only the Latter Prophets.
f. The Reuchlin Codex of the Prophets, 1105 A.D.
g. Cairo Geniza fragments, 6th to 9th century, A.D. h. Qumran Manuscripts (the Dead Sea Scrolls), 200 B.C - 70 A.D.

              3. The most important ancient translations of the Old Testament into languages other than Hebrew are:

 

a. The Septuagint (several versions)
b. The Aramaic Targums (several versions)
c. The Syriac Peshitta
d. The Samaritan Pentateuch
e. The Latin Vulgate

              4. Ideally, the work of textual criticism should proceed with all of these ancient versions and copies readily available. There are then some basic rules that help place the textual criticism of the Bible, whether Old or New Testament, on a firm basis that generally avoids arbitrariness and subjectivity.

 

a. For the Old Testament, where the Hebrew manuscripts and the ancient versions agree, we may assume that the original reading has been preserved. Likewise, with the New Testament, where the various manuscripts agree, we may assume the original text has been preserved. To our great relief, this covers 95 per cent of the Bible.
b. Where the manuscripts differ among themselves, one should chose either the more difficult reading from the point of view of language and subject matter or the reading that most readily makes the development of the other readings intelligible. In order to make this choice, it is necessary that the critic have a thorough knowledge of the history and character of the various manuscripts. It needs also to be realized that these criteria work together and complement one another. A "more difficult reading" does not mean a "meaningless reading."
c. However, the critic must not assume that just because a reading appears meaningless that it necessarily is. Scribes are not likely to turn a meaningful passage into gibberish. Therefore, if a passage is not understandable, that is often as far as we can go. We must, as scholars, acknowledge our own ignorance.
d. With the Old Testament, where the Hebrew manuscripts and the translations differ, and a superior reading cannot be demonstrated on the basis of the above rules, then one should, as a matter of first principle, allow the Hebrew text to stand. With the New Testament, one will generally choose the shorter reading because of the tendency of scribes to try to "explain" passages.
e. Where the different manuscripts differ and none of them seem to make any sense, one may attempt a conjecture concerning the true reading -- a conjecture that must be validated by demonstrating the process of the textual corruption that would have lead to the existing text forms. Such a conjecture, however, must not be used to validate the interpretation of a whole passage in that it might have been made on the basis of an expectation derived from the whole.

              5. The Causes of Textual Corruption

       The goal of textual criticism is to remove the textual errors and restore the original readings. To aid in this goal, it is helpful if the textual critic has an idea of what sorts of errors he or she is likely to find.
       When copying out a text, errors occur in every conceivable way, as we no doubt know from our own experiences. Sometimes it is difficult to explain, even to ourselves, how we might have come to make a particular error. Therefore it is unlikely that we will be able to correct or explain everything that has eluded the scribes over the centuries. A reading that appears doubtful or corrupt to us today may have been caused by a hole or some other damage to the copyist's manuscript. Or maybe the letters or words in a given section of his text were faded and nearly illegible, forcing the copyist to make his best guess. Moreover, a single error can give rise to many others, leaving us with no clue as to how it might have happened.
       And of course, as always, the assumption of a textual error may really be only a cover for our failure to understand the language or the idiom.
       Beyond these unrecoverable sorts of errors, there are two categories of errors that may be distinguished and often corrected: errors due to an unintentional, mechanical lapse on the part of the copyist (often called Errors of Reading and Writing), and two, errors that are the result of deliberate alteration (called Intentional Alterations).

                     a. Errors of Reading and Writing

 

1. Confusion of similar letters In Hebrew, there are several letters which look very similar to one another: the B and K, R and D, H and T, W and Y.
2. Transposition of Letters
3. Haplography -- a fancy word that means when there were two or more identical or similar letters, groups of letters, or words all in sequence, one of them gets omitted by error. Of course, there is some evidence that some of these supposed "errors" are actually equivalent to English contractions like "don't" instead of "do not" and therefore are not errors at all.
4. Dittography -- another fancy word that refers to an error caused by repeating a letter, group of letters , a word or a group of words. The opposite, really, of Haplography.
5. Homoioteleuton -- an even fancier word which refers to the error that occurs when two words are identical, or similar in form, or have similar endings and are close to each other. It is easy in this sort of situation for the eye of the copyist to skip from one word to the other, leaving out everything in between. A good example of this occurs in 1 Samuel 14:41:

Therefore Saul said unto the Lord God of Israel, give a perfect lot. (KJV)

Therefore Saul said, "O Lord God of Israel, why hast thou not answered thy servant this day? If this guilt is in me or in Jonathan my son, O Lord, God of Israel, give Urim: but if this guilt is in thy people Israel, give Thummim. (RSV)

       The copyist's eye jumped from the first instance of the word "Israel" to the last instance, leaving out everything in between for the reading that the KJV translators had at their disposal. The word translated "perfect" is spelled with the same consonants in Hebrew (TH-M-M) as the word Thummim.

6. Errors of Joining and Dividing Words.

       This is more a problem in the New Testament than it is in the Old Testament, for while the Greek manuscripts were written well into the Medieval period without spacing or dividing signs between words, there is no evidence that this was EVER the case with the Old Testament Hebrew texts. In fact, the evidence is very strong to the contrary; inscriptions on walls from the time of Hezekiah actually had dots between each word to separate them from each other.

                     b. Deliberate Alterations

       The Samaritan Pentateuch, as an example, is notorious for its purposeful changes designed to help legitimize some of their sectarian biases. They were sort of like the Jehovah's witnesses of their day.
       A more substantive change in the Hebrew text came after the Babylonian captivity in the time of Ezra (fifth century BC) when the alphabet changed from the Old Hebrew Script to the Aramaic Square Script -- in which all copies of the Old Testament except for the Samaritan Pentateuch are written.
       It should not surprise us that there have been a certain amount of alteration in the text over time, since the Bible was not intended to be the object of scholarly study but rather was to be read by the whole believing community as God's word to them. Thus, the text would undergo adaptations to fit the linguistic needs of the community. For instance in Isaiah 39:1 the Masoretic Text preserves a rare word, hazaq, which has the sense of "to get well, recuperate." The community that produced the Dead Sea scrolls altered this word to the more common Hebrew word for get well, zayah. Other examples of adaptation to colloquial usage are likely. The lack of early material for the Old Testament makes it impossible to demonstrate these sorts of alterations on a larger scale. But a few small alterations are easily demonstrable.
       The treatment of the divine name Baal is an example of deliberate change for theological reasons. In personal names which included the word "Baal", which simply means "master" or "lord", the scribes deliberately replaced "Baal" with "Bosheth," which means "shame". Hence, Jonathan's son was actually named "Meribbaal" rather than "Mephibosheth" (cf. 1 Chron. 8:34, 9:30 and 2 Sam 9:6, 19:24, 21:7)
       Another example of deliberate alteration is found in Job 1:5, 11 and 2:5, 9 where we now read the word berek, to bless (with God as the object) even though we should expect to find the word qalal, to curse. The scribes replaced the offensive expression "to curse God" with a euphemism -- motivated no doubt by their fear of taking God's name in vain.

III. A History of English Bible Translation

       The first English translation of the Bible was undertaken by John Wycliffe (1320-1384). By 1380 he had finished the translation of the New Testament, however his translation of the Old Testament was incomplete at the time of his death. Friends and students completed the task after his death. His translation was not from the original Greek and Hebrew texts; instead he made use of the Latin Vulgate. Many translations followed:

  • William Tyndale's translation of the Bible again relied heavily on the Vulgate; however, he was a good Greek scholar and so he did make use of Erasmus' Greek text and some other helps that had been unavailable to Wycliffe. The New Testament was completed in 1525 and the Pentateuch in 1530. He was martyred before he could complete the Old Testament.
  • Miles Coverdale, a friend of Tyndale, prepared and published a Bible dedicated to Henry VIII in 1535. The New Testament is based largely on Tyndale's version.
  • Matthew's Bible appeared in 1537 and its authorship is somewhat unclear; it is probable that it was produced by John Rogers, a friend of Tyndale. Apparently Rogers came into possession of Tyndale's unpublished translations of the historical books of the Old Testament and so included these in this version, which again, rests heavily on the work of Tyndale, as well as Coverdale.
  • The Great Bible of 1539 was based on the Tyndale, Coverdale and Matthew's Bibles. It was a large volume, chained to the reading desk in churches, and from this fact derives its name.
  • The Geneva Bible of 1560 was produced by scholars who fled to Geneva, Switzerland from England during the persecution instigated by Queen Mary. It was a revision of the Great Bible.
  • The Bishops' Bible of 1568 was produced under the direction of the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of Elizabeth I. It is to a large extent simply a revision of the Great Bible, with some influence of the Geneva Bible. It was used chiefly by the clergy and was unpopular with the average person.
  • The Douay Bible was a Roman Catholic version translated from the Latin Vulgate. The New Testament was published at Rheims in 1582 and the Old Testament at Douay in 1609-1610. It contains controversial notes and until recently was the generally accepted English version for the Catholic Church.
  • The King James (or Authorized) Version was published in 1611. It was produced by forty-seven scholars under the authorization of King James I of England. The Bishops' Bible served as the basis for this version, though they did study the Greek and Hebrew texts and consulted other English translations. It was the most popular translation in English for well over three hundred years, undergoing at least three revisions before 1800. The New King James Version appeared in 1982. The New Testament had been published in 1979. One hundred nineteen scholars worked on the project, sponsored by the International Trust for Bible Studies and Thomas Nelson Publishers. They sought to preserve and improve the 1611 version.
  • The Revised Version was published between 1881 and 1885. It was made by a group of English and American scholars. It was to a large extent a revision of the King James translation, though the scholars involved did check the most ancient copies of the original scriptures using manuscripts that were unavailable at the time the King James Version was produced.
  • The American Standard Version of 1900-1901 is the American version of the Revised Version, with those renderings preferred by the American members of the Revision Committee of 1881-1885.
  • The Revised Standard Version was published in 1952. In 1928 the copyright of the American Standard Version was acquired by the International Council of Religious Education, which authorized a revision by a committee of thirty-two scholars. The New Testament was issued in 1946, the complete Bible in 1952. The copyright is currently owned by the Division of Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. The Revised Standard Version Bible Committee is a continuing body, which is both ecumenical and international, with active Protestant and Catholic members from Great Britain, Canada, and the United States. Additional revisions were made in the New Testament in 1971 and in 1990 the New Revised Standard Version was issued.
  • The Berkeley Version was published in 1959. The New Testament was originally translated into modern English by a single individual, Gerrit Verkuyl in 1945. With a staff of twenty translators, including professors from various Christian colleges and seminaries, all under his direction, a translation of the Old Testament was rendered.
  • The Amplified Bible appeared in 1965. It was commissioned by the Lockman Foundation and is unusual -- even idiosyncratic -- in that it has bracketed explanatory words to try to explain somewhat difficult passages.
  • The Jerusalem Bible was published in 1966. It is a Roman Catholic work originally done in French at the Dominican Biblical School in Jerusalem in 1956. The French title was La Bible de Jerusalem. The English version was translated from the original Hebrew and Greek texts, but it follows the French version on most matters of interpretation. It is the only major English translation that makes use of the divine name "Yahweh" in the Old Testament. The translation includes the Apocrypha. A revision called The New Jerusalem Bible came out in 1989.
  • The New English Bible was published in 1970. It was produced by a joint committee of Bible scholars from leading denominations in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, assisted by the university presses of Oxford and Cambridge. Twenty-two years were spent in the work of translation, with the New Testament arriving in 1961. The full Bible includes the Apocrypha. It is printed in paragraphed, single-column format, with verse numbers along the outside margin of the pages. A revision of this translation, called the Revised English Bible appeared in 1989.
  • The New American Standard Bible was published in 1971. It is a revision of the American Standard Version and was commissioned by the Lockman Foundation. A group of Bible scholars worked for ten years, translating from the original texts and attempting to render the grammar and terminology of the American Standard Version into more contemporary English, except when God is addressed. Then it reverts to archaic, King James style language. The New Testament appeared in 1963.
  • The Living Bible appeared in 1971. It is a paraphrase by Kenneth N. Taylor; he sought to express what the writers of scripture meant in the simplest modern English possible. It is a paraphrase of the American Standard Version; it is not a translation from the original languages.
  • Today's English Version (Good News Bible) was published in 1976. The New Testament, entitled Good News For Modern Man was published in 1966 by the American Bible Society. A translation committee of Bible scholars was appointed to work with the United Bible Societies to make a similar translation of the Old Testament. Their objective was to provide a faithful translation into natural, clear, and simple contemporary English. American and British editions of the complete Bible appeared in 1976. In 1995 an updated version was produced, called the Contemporary English Version, which is notable for removing anything that might be misunderstood as anti-semitic from its translation of the New Testament.
  • The New International Version was published in 1978. The Committee enlisted Bible scholars from a broad range of denominations and countries and has become the most widely used of the modern translations.

IV. The Apocrypha

       The term "Apocrypha" comes from Greek and means "hidden things". It is used in three different ways: one, for writings that were regarded as so important and precious that they must be hidden from the general public and preserved for initiates, the inner circle of believers. Two, it was applied to writings which were hidden not because they were too good, but because they were not good enough: because they were secondary, questionable, or heretical. And finally third, apocrypha was applied to those books which existed outside the Hebrew canon -- that is, books of religious materials that the Jewish people did not accept as scripture but which appeared in the Greek and Latin translations of the Old Testament.
       It is for this reason, that the books of the apocrypha have not been accepted as scripture outside of Roman Catholic circles. Within Roman Catholicism, with the exception of the First and Second Books of Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, the Roman Church accepts these writings as part of the Old Testament and designates them as deuterocanonical, that is, added later to the canon.
       Below is a list and summary of each of the books and parts of books included in the apocrypha (it is interesting to note that these books appeared in the original edition of the King James Version of the Bible):

 

       1 Esdras. It gives a parallel account of the events recorded in Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, with one large addition called "The Debate of the Three Youths". It is an adaptation of a Persian story. In the story, Zerubbabel, the guardsman of Darius wins a debate with two other young men over who the strongest power might be: wine, the king, or, as Zerubbabel said "women are strongest, but truth conquers all." By winning this debate, Zerubbabel is able to remind Darius of his obligation to allow the rebuilding of the temple.
       2 Esdras. It is an expansion by Christian writers of an original Jewish apocalyptic work. It consists of seven visions:

 

1. The seer demands an explanation for the suffering of Zion, whose sin is not greater than that of her oppressor. The angel Uriel answers that it cannot be understood, but that the era soon to come will bring salvation.
2. The seer wants to know why Israel, God's chosen, has been delivered up to other nations. The answer again is that it is incomprehensible to men, but good times are coming.
3. The seer asks why the Jews do not possess the earth. The answer given is that they will inherit it in an age to come. There is also some discussion about the after life.
4. A mourning woman recounts her woes and is thereupon transformed into a glorious city, a symbol of Jerusalem.
5. A twelve-winged and three-headed eagle, the symbol of Rome which the interpreting angel identifies as the fourth beast of Daniel chapter seven will be supplanted by the Messiah.
6. A man arises from the sea, annihilating an antagonistic multitude; it is an adaptation based on the Son of man vision in Daniel 7.
7. The topic is Ezra's supposed restoration of the sacred books of the Hebrew Bible by means of a vision and the help of supernaturally guided scribes.

       Tobit. It is a pious short story about a righteous Hebrew of the northern kingdom of Israel taken into captivity. Tobit suffers persecution because he helps his fellow Israelites under the tyranny of Esarhaddon. He is blinded accidentally and to his shame, his wife must support him. He prays that he may die. At the same time, a prayer is offered in Ecbatana by a young Jewish woman named Sarah who is being haunted by a demon named Asmodaeus, who has slain seven of her husbands on their wedding night. The angel Raphael is sent "to heal them both". Tobit sends his son Tobias to collect ten silver talents left in Media. Raphael takes the form of Azariah, who is hired as his traveling companion. In the Tigris a fish is caught, and its heart, liver, and gall are preserved by Tobias on Azariah's recommendation. Tobias arrives in Ecbatana and becomes engaged to Sarah, who he comes to find out is his cousin. On their wedding night, he burns the heart and liver of the fish and the stench drives the demon away to Egypt. Preceded by his dog, Tobias returns home (where his father had given up on him as lost). Tobias takes the fish gall and anoints his father's eyes, thereby restoring his sight.
       Judith. This tells the story of a young Jewish woman who was a widow. She is a native of Bethulia which is being besieged by the general Holofernes. She visits him in his camp, under the ruse of revealing military secrets. Once with him, she begins to entice him with her charms, until, while banqueting alone with him, she is able to cut off his head. She then returns to Bethulia with his head and is greeted by great rejoicing. The Assyrians then retreat from the city after discovering that their general had been killed. Judith and the other women of the city then rejoice with a psalm of praise before God.
       Additions to Daniel. Several stories appear in the Greek translation of the book of Daniel that are not present in the original text. These stories are as follows:

 

The Prayer of Azariah -- this is uttered while he is in the fiery furnace in chapter three of Daniel. (Remember, Azariah is the original Hebrew name of the man whom Nebuchadnezzar called Abednego.)
The Song of the Three Holy Children -- this is sung to God's praise as the three walk around in the fire.
Susanna -- Susanna is the beautiful and virtuous wife of a wealthy Jew in Babylon. Two elders of the people who lust after her come upon her while she is taking a bath and offer her the alternative of either letting them have sex with her or facing an accusation of being an adulteress.. She chooses the latter. The two men who have accused her are believed by everyone and she is condemned to death, though she protests her innocence. Daniel cries out against the injustice of this and in a second trial before him, the lie is uncovered and the woman is justified.
Bel and the Dragon -- Daniel shows that the priests of Bel, and not the image of the god, devours the nightly offerings of food by scattering flour on the floor. In the morning, the footprints of the priests are plainly visible, taking the food away. The king of Babylon thereupon destroys the image.
       Then, Daniel destroys a mighty dragon that is worshipped by the Babylonians. He is tossed into the lions den and is preserved alive for six days. On the sixth day, the prophet Habakkuk is miraculously transported to Babylon to provide Daniel with food. On the seventh day he is released by the king.

       Additions to Esther. There are six additional passages in the Greek version of the book.

 

The first deals with Mordecai's dream and his prevention of a conspiracy against the king.
The second is the king's edict for the destruction of all the Jews in his realm.
The third are the prayers of Esther and Mordecai.
The fourth describes Esther's audience with the king.
The fifth is the king's edict permitting Jewish self-defense.
And the sixth includes the interpretation of Mordecai's dream.

       The Prayer of Manasseh. Claims to be the prayer which Manasseh is recorded as praying in 2 Chronicles 33:11-19, a prayer of repentance.
       The Epistle of Jeremiah. Purports to be a letter written by Jeremiah to the exiles in Babylon; the letter attacks idolatry.
       The Book of Baruch. It claims to be the work of the friend and scribe of Jeremiah. In the setting of the Babylonian Exile of 597 BC, Baruch is depicted as addressing the exiles, setting out a confession of sins, a prayer for forgiveness and a prayer for salvation. Next, the book praises the Wisdom that may be found in the law of Moses and without which the heathen have come to nothing, but with which Israel can be saved. Finally, the book ends with a lament of Jerusalem over the exiles, followed by an exhortation to Jerusalem that she should be comforted, because her children will some day come home.
       Ecclesiasticus. Also called the Wisdom of Joshua (or Jesus) ben-Sira (not to be confused with the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible). He was a Palestinian Jew living in Jerusalem; parts of the original Hebrew text have been uncovered, though it is best known in the Greek translation made by his grandson who furnishes chronological details in a preface. The most likely date for Ben-Sira himself is around 180 BC, since his grandson apparently migrated to Egypt in the reign of Ptolemy VII Euergetes (170-117 BC).
       The book falls into two parts and fits the Ancient Near Eastern literary classification called Wisdom Literature. The first half of the book gives advice for a successful life conceived in the widest sense: fear of the Lord and the observance of the Law are allied in the author's experience and teaching with practical wisdom drawn from observation and his own life. He argues that personal piety will express itself in the observance of the law in which Wisdom is revealed. In daily living, moderation will be the keynote of all aspects of life.
       The second half of the book concludes with a list praising the famous men from Israel's history, ending with Simon II, the high priest (c. 200 BC).
       The Wisdom of Solomon. The book is an exhortation to seek wisdom, and claims to have been composed by Solomon (it wasn't -- it dates back to only about 200 BC). Chapters 1-5 declare the blessings that will come to those who seek after Wisdom. Chapters 6-9 personify Wisdom as a feminine celestial being, foremost of the creatures and servants of God. Chapters 10-19 then conclude by reviewing Old Testament history in the light of Wisdom: Wisdom has aided the Jewish people throughout their history, and destroyed their enemies.
       1 Maccabees. This book covers the events between 175 and 134 BC, that is, the struggle of the Jews against Antiochus Epiphanes, the wars of the Hasmonaeans, and the rule of John Hyrcanus. The book ends with elaborate praise of John Hyrcanus, written just after his death in 103 BC. The book describes the origin of the Jewish Festival of Lights or the Feast of Dedication (see John 10:22 which records that Jesus celebrated this holiday) -- or as it is more commonly known, Hanukkah.
       2 Maccabees. This book covers much of the same material as 1 Maccabees, but it does not continue the history beyond the campaigns and defeat of Nicanor. There are a number of discrepancies in chronological and numerical matters between the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees.

 

The Law

       The first of the three major divisions of the Hebrew Bible is called Torah in Hebrew; this is normally translated with the English word "Law". The Law is made up of the five books of Moses, also known as the Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
       Moses is traditionally assumed to be the author of the book of the Pentateuch, though he is nowhere in scripture specifically identified as its author. However the New Testament repeatedly speaks about "Moses" in the sense of the author of the Torah (the Pentateuch -- the first five books of the Bible).
       Another explanation for the authorship of the books of the Law has developed over the last hundred fifty years. It is widely held by those who do not believe that the Bible is the word of God. Called the Documentary Hypothesis, it was developed by a German scholar named Wellhausen and assumes the five books of Moses were composed over a period of several hundred years, not reaching their final form until the time of Ezra (c. 500 B.C.). It supposes four major documents used in the composition, labeled J, E, P, and D.

J (from the divine name Yahweh -- in German, Jahweh); it is said to originate in Judah between 950 and 850 B.C. and pieces of it are scattered in sections from Genesis through Numbers.

E (the Elohistic source, from the prevalence of the word Elohim); it is said to originate in the northern kingdom of Israel between 850 and 750 BC. It too, is scattered from Genesis through Numbers.

P (the Priestly source, so called because it seems most concerned with aspects of the formal worship in the temple); it is said to come from the exile or shortly thereafter -- sixth to fifth centuries B.C. It is made up of the genealogies and priestly ritual described in Genesis through Numbers.

Finally, D, (the Deuteronomic source, so called because it includes mostly just the book of Deuteronomy); the author or editor of this section is assumed to be responsible for the framework of the historical account that runs from Joshua through 2 Kings. D is regarded as having reached its final form during the reign of Josiah, when the priests "found" the book of the law (2 Kings 22:3-23:25).

       While the Documentary Hypothesis is widely accepted by biblical scholars (and is the theory to be found in popular literature such as Encyclopedias and even magazines and newspapers), most evangelical scholars reject it. The reason for their rejection is twofold: the documentary hypothesis makes the Pentateuch a lying fraud, and secondly, there is no objective evidence for any of the supposed source documents. In fact, supposing such a complex method of composition runs counter to what is known about how all other Ancient Near Eastern documents were composed.
       In recent years the documentary hypothesis was been severely criticized for its subjectivity -- a serious failure on the part of a system that aims for scientific objectivity; moreover, there is strong evidence which supports the traditional view of mostly a single author for the Pentateuch. For more information check the book by Kikawada and Quinn, Before Abraham Was, published by Abingdon in 1985.

          

The Book of Genesis

I. Title 

       The English title comes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint). In Hebrew, the book's title is taken from the first word in the book, bereshit -- which means "in the beginning".

II. Author

       Moses is traditionally assumed to be the author of the book of Genesis, though he is nowhere in scripture specifically identified as its author. However the New Testament repeatedly speaks about "Moses" in the sense of the author of the Torah (the Pentateuch -- the first five books of the Bible), which would of course include the book of Genesis. For more discussion of the authorship question, please see the introduction to the Law.

III. An Outline of Genesis

I. The Primeval History 1:1 - 11:26

 

A. Creation of the Universe 1:1-2:4a
B. Early Humanity 2:4b-4:26
C. Antediluvian Age 5:1-6:8
D. Noah 6:9-9:29
E. The Nations 10:1-11:9
F. Shem's Genealogy 11:10-26

II. The Patriarchal History 11:27-50:26

 

A. Terah: Abraham and Isaac 11:27-25:11
B. Genealogy of Ishmael 25:12-18
C. Jacob 25:19-35:29
D. Esau Summary 36:1-36:8
E. Esau Genealogy 36:9-37:1
F. Joseph 37:2-50:26

IV. Summary of the Most Common Interpretations of the Creation Narrative:

       A. Creationism

       Takes the approach that the six days of Genesis 1 are to be understood as actual twenty-four hour days. Holds to a basically chronological approach to the creation narrative, and believes that the universe as a whole came into being about six thousand years ago. Believes that all the fossils were formed at the time of the Great Flood of Noah.

       B. Gap Theory

       Places a gap in the narrative either before Genesis 1:1 or between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2; believes the universe was created approximately twenty billion years ago, then suffered a cataclysmic destruction at the time of Satan's rebellion, necessitating the reconstruction of the Earth about six thousand years ago. The fossil records illustrate the life forms prior to the reconstruction recorded from Genesis 1:2 and following. In common with the Creationist perspective, it holds that the six days are to be understood as ordinary twenty-four hour days.

       C. Theistic Evolution

       Believes that the six days of Genesis should be understood as long periods of time, rather than twenty-four hour days. Believes that God brought the universe into existence about twenty billion years ago, and then made use of the evolutionary process to bring forth life over an extended period. Does not view the creation narrative as a chronological description of events.

V. Thematic Arrangement of the Six Days

 

       1. light/darkness              4. sun/moon and stars
       2. water above/below        5. birds/fish
       3. dry land, vegetation      6. animals and people
 

       Notice that on days 1-3, empty places are made, while on days 4-6 the inhabitants to fill those empty places are made.
   

VI. Topical Expansion in Hebrew Poetry and Narrative

       Not uncommonly in the Old Testament, you'll find the structure of the text is similar to what you'd find in a newspaper article, where the first line or paragraph summarizes the rest of the story. Look at the following examples to get a sense of how this works in the Bible.

       1. Genesis 1:1-3:25

1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

1:2-2:4a How God created the heavens and the earth.
2:4b-3:25 How God created man and woman.

       2. Jonah 3:5-9

3:5 Summary of the response of the city to Jonah's preaching.
3:6-9 Specific details of what happened and how.

       3. Proverbs 1:10-19

1:10 My son, if sinners entice you
do not go.

 

1:11-14 How sinners entice.
1:15-19 Do not go with them.

       4. Ecclesiastes 2:1-26

2:1 I spoke in my heart, "Come now, I will test pleasure
and examine good."
Behold: all of it is also meaningless.

 

2:2-10 Testing with pleasure to discover what's good.
2:11-26 Everything is meaningless.

   

Questions on Genesis

 

1. What is a myth?
2. Why is Genesis not a myth?
3. What is the purpose of the genealogies in Genesis?
4. Should the flood be viewed as a universal catastrophe or a local incident? Explain.
5. Who are the "sons of God" of Genesis 6? Give the three major proposals and the arguments for each.
6. Explain the Abrahamic covenant. What is it, to whom does it apply, what does it promise, and what is its significance?
7. What was circumcision?
8. Discuss the authorship of the book of Genesis and the Pentateuch in general.
9. Discuss Joseph's life. What does it teach about God's sovereignty?
10. Identify each of the following individuals and be able to write a brief biography of each, and the family relationships.

 

a. Tamar
b. Abraham (Abram)
c. Noah
d. Shem
e. Joseph
f. Eve
g. Sarah (Sarai)
h. Isaac
i. Jacob (Israel)
j. Laban
k. Judah
l. Rachel
m. Leah
n. Bilhah
o. Zilpah
p. Hagar
q. Enoch
r. Ishmael
s. Abel
t. Cain
u. Melchizedek
v. Lot
w. Rebekkah
x. Seth
y. Esau (Edom)
z. Adam

A. Hoshea 17:1-41 (Israel)
B. Hezekiah 18:1-20:21
C. Manasseh 21:1-18
D. Amon 21:19-26
E. Josiah 22:1-23:30
F. Jehoahaz 23:31-35
I. Jehoiakim 23:36-24:7
J. Jehoiachin 24:8-25:30

The Book of Exodus

I. Title

       The English title comes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint). In Hebrew, the book's title is taken from the first words in the book, eleh shemot -- which mean "these are the names".

II. Author

       Moses is traditionally assumed to be the author of the book of Exodus.

III. An Outline of Exodus

 

I. Salvation 1:1-19:2

 

A. Liberation 1:1-15:21
B. Journey to Sinai 15:22-18:27

II. Covenant: The Result of Salvation 19:1-40:38

 

A. The Giving of the Ten Commandments 19:1-20:21
B. Expansion on the Theme of the Ten Commandments 20:22-40:38

IV. Questions on Exodus

 

1. Discuss the dating of the Exodus. Be aware of the various positions on the nature and timing of the event.
2. Name the ten plagues and discuss their possible relationship to Egyptian deities.
3. List the ten commandments and give the reference in Exodus where they can be found.
4. Notice the trouble Moses experienced in leading the people out of Egypt and discuss how this relates to doing and knowing God's will.
5. Below is an outline of the tabernacle. Identify the various parts of it:

 

a. Bronze altar (brasen altar)
b. Bronze basin (laver)
c. Table of the Bread of the Presence (Table of Shewbread)
d. Golden Lampstand
e. Altar of Incense
f. Ark of the Covenant
g. The Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies)
h. The Holy Place

6. What is God's name and when was it first revealed?
7. Discuss the incident with the Golden Calf.
8. Discuss the Passover and its significance to Israel and to us today.
9. Give a brief biography of Moses, from birth through the Exodus.
10. What was in the ark of the covenant?
11. Describe the various garments worn by the priests.
12. Discuss the incidents with the Manna and the quail.
13. What are the waters of Marah and Elim?
14. What happened at the Rock of Horeb?
15. Discuss Jethro's visit with Moses.

The Book of Leviticus

I. Title

          The English title comes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint). In Hebrew, the book's title is taken from the first word, in the book vayiqra-- which means "and he called".

II. Author

         

III. An Outline of Leviticus

 

I. The Law of Sacrifice 1:1-7:38
II. The Consecration of the Priests 8:1-10:20
III. The Clean and the Unclean 11:1-15:33
IV. The Holiness Code 16:1-26:46
V. Dedications 27:1-3

Questions on Leviticus

 

1. Understand and be able to discuss the five major sorts of offerings; know when to offer what, and the animals that each requires:

 

a. burnt offering
b. grain offering
c. fellowship (or peace) offering
d. sin offering e. guilt offering

2. Describe the ordination ceremony of the priests.
3. Why did Nadab and Abihu die?
4. What are the regulations regarding infectious skin diseases? Mildew in houses?
5. Know and understand the following special holidays; give the dates that they are celebrated in both the Jewish and modern calendars:

 

a. Sabbath
b. Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread
c. Firstfruits
d. Feast of Weeks
e. Feast of Trumpets
f. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
g. Feast of Tabernacles (Booths)

6. Discuss the dietary regulations.
7. Discuss purification after childbirth.
8. Discuss the sabbatical year.
9. What was the Year of Jubilee?
10. What are the rules regarding the redemption of dedicated items?
11. Discuss proper and improper sexual relations.

 

 

The Book of Numbers

I. Title

        The English title comes from the Greek translation of the Old testament (the Septuagint). In Hebrew, the book's title is taken from the first word in the book, bemidbar-- which means "in the wilderness".

II. The Author

        Moses is traditionally assumed to be the author of the book of Numbers..

III. An Outline of Numbers

I. The Census 1:1-4:49
II. Regulations 5:1-10:10
III. The Journey to Canaan 10:11-14:45
IV. The Years of Wandering 15:1-19:22
V. The Journey Back to Canaan 20:1-36:13

Questions on Numbers

 

1. Describe the Nazirite vow. Which biblical characters took the Nazirite vow?
2. What is the test for an unfaithful wife?
3. What happened at Taberah?
4. What happened at Kibroth Hattaavah?
5. What happened to Miriam and Aaron when they opposed Moses because of the Cushite (Ethiopian) wife he had taken?
6. Discuss the initial spying out of the land and the reaction of the people to the report from the spies. What was God's response?
7. Describe and discuss Korah's rebellion.
8. What happened at Meribah?
9. Describe and discuss Balak and Balaam.
10. Why did the snakes start biting the Israelites? What did God do to save them?
11. Describe Israel's relationship with Edom. With Moab.
12. Who are Zelophehad's daughters?
13. What are the cities of refuge? Give their purpose and names.

 

The Book of Deuteronomy

I. Title

       The English title comes from the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), meaning "second law". This is a misnomer, as it implies that this book contains another or different law, which it does not. In Hebrew, the book's title is taken from the first words in the book, eleh devarim-- which mean "these are the words".

II. Author

       Moses is traditionally assumed to be the author of the book of Deuteronomy.

III. An Outline of Deuteronomy

I. Preamble 1:1-5
II. Historical Prologue 1:6-4:49
III. General Stipulations 5:1-11:32
IV. Specific Stipulations 12:1-26:19
V. Blessings and Cursings 27:1-30:18
VI. Witnesses 30:19-20
VII. Moses Concluding His Work 31:1-33:29
VIII. The Death Of Moses 34:1-12

IV. Vassal Treaties

       The format of Deuteronomy follows the structure of Ancient Near Eastern treaties which were made between greater and lesser powers. Israel, the lesser power, had been freed from bondage as Egypt's vassal and was now voluntarily becoming the vassal of Yahweh. Therefore, the book of Deuteronomy is a treaty or contract between God and Israel.

V. Outline of a Typical Vassal Treaty of the Fifteenth Century BC

I. Preamble -- "These are the words..."
II. Historical Prologue -- antecedant history: the events which lead to and now form the basis of the treaty.
III. General Stipulations -- substantive statements regarding the future relationship which is related to the antecedant history and which summarizes the purpose of the specific stipulations which will follow.
IV. Specific Stipulations
V. Divine Witnesses -- the gods are called upon to bear witness.
VI. Blessings and Cursings -- what will happen if the covenant is kept or broken.

Questions on Deuteronomy

 

1. Give the outline and format of the book of Deuteronomy.
2. What is the Shema, what is its significance, and where is it? Quote it.
3. Be able to give a brief biography of each person:

 

a. Moses
b. Aaron
c. Og
d. Sihon
e. Joshua
f. Caleb

4. What does Deuteronomy have to say about Israel's king?
5. Summarize the blessings and cursings pronounced upon Israel. Why were they given?

 

 

THE FORMER PROPHETS

 

The Former Prophets

          The second division of the Hebrew Old Testament is called Neviim in Hebrew; this is translated into English as "Prophets". This section is itself broken into two subsections, the Former Prophets and the Latter Prophets.

The Former Prophets

 

 

Joshua
Judges
1-2 Samuel
1-2 Kings

The Latter Prophets

 

 

Isaiah
Jeremiah
Ezekiel
Hosea
Joel
Amos
Obadiah
Jonah
Micah
Nahum
Habakkuk
Zephaniah
Haggai
Zechariah

          Ordinarily, English speaking Christians do not think of the books of Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel and 1-2 Kings as prophetic works, but this is the way they were classified in the Hebrew Bible. Only the Latter Prophets, which follow them, are the books Christians more traditionally think of as prophetic (Isaiah- Malachi). However, when one considers the important role such prophets as Samuel, Elijah, Elisha and Nathan played in those books Christians call History, the Hebrew classification begins to make more sense. Furthermore, it should be noted that these Former Prophets were not presenting plain history; rather, they had a prophetic purpose in mind: to proclaim God's actions in the life of his chosen people.

The Book of Joshua

I. Title

          The English title "Joshua" is the same in both the Hebrew original and in the Greek translation. It was derived from the content of the book, rather than from its author.

II. Author

          The author of the book is unknown. However, Joshua 5:1 states that:

 

          Now when all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings along the seacoast heard how the Lord had dried up the Jordan before the Israelites until we had crossed over, their hearts sank and they no longer had the courage to face the Israelites.

Also, in 5:6:

          For the Lord had sworn to them that they would not see the land that he had solemnly promised their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey.

          Therefore, the use of the first person plural pronoun would seem to indicate that the author of Joshua was an eyewitness to the events described.
          While the book was written by an eyewitness, it seems unlikely that this eyewitness was Joshua. 15:13-19 and 19:47 contain accounts of the conquest of Hebron by Caleb, Debir by Othniel, and Leshem by the tribe of Dan. Considered alone, these conquests could have happened before Joshua died. But if these accounts are compared with the parallel accounts of the same conquests in Judges 1:1-15, there can be little doubt that the battles described occurred following Joshua's death.
          The question then arises: just how long after Joshua's death was the book written? Caleb's conquest of Hebron must have occurred a very short time after Joshua's demise. After all, Caleb was eighty-five years old at this time.
          In addition, there seems to be distinct evidence that the book was written before, not after the establishment of the monarchy in Israel, contrary to what some critics have inferred.
          In Joshua 16:10 the Canaanites are still in Gezer. However, by the end of David's reign they were gone (1 Kings 9:16). In Joshua 15:63 the Jebusites were still in Jerusalem. However, when David began to reign over the united kingdom, the Jebusites were gone (2 Samuel 5:3, 6-9). Furthermore, the book of Joshua shows no traces of a later time, either in style or content. It is closely connected with the Pentateuch in language as well as viewpoint. For example, the only Phoenicians mentioned are the Sidonians, and they are considered a part of the Canaanites who were to be destroyed (13:4-6). By the time of David, circumstances had changedcompletely. Also, Sidon is referred to as the chief city of the Phoenicians, and the epithet "great" is applied to it in 11:8 and 19:28. But, in the days of David, Tyre was the most prominent Phoenician city.
          Therefore, it seems likely that the book of Joshua was written within twenty or twenty-five years of the death of Joshua, probably by one of the elders who crossed the Jordan with him, and had taken part in the conquest of Canaan (5:1 and 6), but survived a long time after (12:31 and Judges 2:7).

III. An Outline of Joshua

 

I. The Entry into Canaan 1-6
II. The Incident at Ai and Renewal of the Covenant 7-8
III. The Conquest of the South 9-10
IV. The Conquest of the North 11-12
V. The Division of the Land 13-22
VI. Farewell and Death of Joshua 23-24

Questions on Joshua

 

1. Discuss the authorship of the book of Joshua.
2. Give a summary of the account of Rahab and the spies.
3. Give a summary of the conquest of Jericho.
4. What happened at Ai?
5. What is significant about the Gibeonites?
6. What happened at Gibeon?
7. Who settled on the eastern side of the Jordan River?
8. What was the significance of the altar built at the border of Canaan at Geliloth near the Jordan?
9. Is the book of Joshua arranged chronologically? Explain.

 

The Book of Judges

I. Title

          The title, Judges, is the same in both the Hebrew original and in the Greek translation. It was derived frrom the content of the book, rather than its author.

II. Author

          The author of the book of Judges is unknown. The book covers events from Joshua's death, around 1380 BC (taking an early date for the Exodus) until close to the time of Samuel (c. 1075 BC), who can be pictured as being the last judge before the beginning of the monarchal period (although Samuel and his time do not form part of the story of the book of Judges).

III. An Outline of Judges

 

I. The Time of the Elders 1:1-2:10
II. The Time of the Judges 2:11-16:31
III. A Picture of Anarchy 17-21

Questions on Judges

 

1. What is the theme phrase of the book of Judges?
2. Be able to give a biography of each person:

 

a. Othniel
b. Ehud
c. Shamgar
d. Deborah
e. Gideon (Jereb-Baal)
f. Abimelech
g. Gaal son of Ebed
h. Tola
i. Jair
j. Jephthah
k. Samson
l. Delilah
m. Micah
n. The Levite

3. Describe the war between Israel and the tribe of Benjamin.

 

 

 

The Book of 1-2 Samuel

I. Title

        The title, Samuel, is the same in both the Hebrew original and in the Greek translation. It was derived from the principle character in the early part of the book, the last judge, Samuel. Calling the book Samuel, however, is something of a misnomer, it would seem, because David will play a much more prominent role through the majority of the story.
        Though separated into two books in our translations, they were originally one book and will be treated as such for the purpose of the outline and this introduction.

II. Author

        The author of the books is unknown, though obviously it cannot be Samuel since he is said to have died by 1 Samuel 28:3.

III. An Outline of 1-2 Samuel

 

I. Samuel 1-7
II. Saul 8-15
III. David Gains the Kingship 16-31
IV. David Triumphant (2 Samuel) 1-10
V. David Recovering 11-24

       

Questions on 1-2 Samuel

 

 

1. Give a brief biography of the following:

 

a. Eli
b. Hophni and Phinehas
c. Samuel
d. Hannah
e. Saul
f. David
g. Jonathan
h. Abner
i. Nathan
j. Shimei
k. Mephibosheth
l. Adonijah
m. Ishbosheth
n. Ahithophel
o. Tamar
p. Hanun
q. Joab
r. Uzzah
s. Amnon
t. Asahel
u. Adoram
v. Abigail
w. Nabal
x. Bathsheba
y. Uriah
z. Goliath

2. What is the significance of 2 Samuel 7?
3. How did God use David's sins of adultery and numbering the people to further his purposes?
4. Where was Eli's home?
5. Where was the ark taken after leaving the Philistines?
6. Why did the people want a king?
7. What were the signs given to Saul by Samuel assuring him that he would become king?
8. Who lead the victory at Mizpeh?
9. Who ate food during a battle and almost died from it?
10. Who killed Saul?
11. What is the significance of En-Dor?
12. How does David demonstrate his knowledge of Scripture in his response to Nathan's parable?

 

 

 

The Book of 1-2 Kings

I. Title

          The title "Kings" is the same in both the Hebrew original and in the Greek translation. It was derived from the content of the book.
          Though separated into two books in our translations, they were originally one book and will be treated as such for the purpose of the outline and this introduction.

II. Author

          Unknown at this time. It is clear that the materials contained in the books of 1-2 Kings are derived from other sources. (Cf. 1 Kings 11:41 and 2 Kings 8:23, for example.)

III. Outline

 

I. David's Successor 1:1-11:43

 

A. Adonijah 1:1-27
B. Solomon 1:28-11:43

II. A Kingdom Divided 12:1-2 Kings 16:20

 

A. Rehoboam 12:1-14:31
B. Abijah 15:1-8
C. Asa 15:9-24
D. Nadab 15:25-32 (Israel)
E. Baasha 15:33-16:7 (Israel)
F. Elah 16:8-14 (Israel)
G. Zimri 16:15-20 (Israel)
H. Omri 16:21-28 (Israel)
I. Ahab 16:29-22:40 (Israel)
J. Jehoshaphat 22:41-50
K. Ahaziah 22:51-1:18 (Israel)
L. Joram 2:1-8:15 (Israel)
M. Jehoram 8:16-24
N. Ahaziah 8:25-29
O. Jehu 9:1-10:36 (Israel)
P. Athaliah and Joash 11:1-12:21
Q. Jehoahaz 13:1-9 (Israel)
R. Jehoash 13:10-13:25
S. Amaziah 14:1-22
T. Jeroboam II 14:23-29
U. Azariah 15:1-7
V. Zechariah 15:8-12
W. Shallum 15:13-16 (Israel)
X. Menahem 15:17-22 (Israel)
Y. Pekahiah 15:23-26 (Israel)
Z. Pekah 15:27-31 (Israel)
AA. Jotham 15:32-38
BB. Ahaz 16:1-20

III. The Kingdom Falls 17:1-25:30

Questions on 1-2 Kings

 

1. Give a brief biography of the following individuals:

 

a. Solomon
b. Jeroboam
c. Rehoboam
d. Ahijah
e. Abijah
f. Asa
g. Nadab
h. Baasha
i. Elah
j. Zimri
k. Omri
l. Ahab
m. Elijah
n. Elishah
o. Gehazi
p. Obadiah
q. Ben-Hadad
r. Naboth
s. Micaiah
t. Jehoshaphat
u. Ahaziah (of Israel)
v. Joram
w. Naaman
x. Hazael
y. Jehoram
z. Ahaziah (of Judah)
aa. Jehu
bb. Jezebel
cc. Athaliah
dd. Joash
ee. Jehoahaz
ff. Jehoash
gg. Amaziah
hh. Jeroboam II
ii. Azariah
jj. Zechariah
kk. Shallum
ll. Pekahiah
mm. Pekah
nn. Jotham
oo. Ahaz
pp. Hoshea
qq. Hezekiah
rr. Sennacherib
ss. Isaiah
tt. Manasseh
uu. Amon
vv. Josiah
ww. Shaphan
xx. Hilkiah
yy. Jehoahaz
zz. Jehoiakim
aaa. Jehoiachin
bbb. Zedekiah

                                                                   

THE LATTER PROPHETS

 

The Latter Prophets

       [The Pentateuch] stands by itself as perfectly unique -- the original record which regulated on all sides the being and life of Israel as to chosen nation, and to which all other prophesy in Israel stood in a derivative relation.
                                                                                   --Franz Delitzsch

       To understand the prophetic books of the Old Testament, it is important to recognize that:

 

1. The prophets were not innovators. Their message depended and was derived from the messages that had gone before, especially the word of God as given in the five books of Moses.
2. Therefore, in order to comprehend the prophetic books, it is absolutely vital that the reader know the Pentateuch.

 

a. God is the God of the whole human race (Gen. 1-9)
b. There are no other gods but Yahweh (Deut. 6:4)
c. Love is the cause and purpose of the covenant God made with Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7-11)
d. Therefore, the Covenant forms the basis of God's dealings with Israel and Judah (Deuteronomy 27-30).

The Book of Isaiah

I. Title

       The title of the book is derived from the name of the author; Isaiah's name, like Joshua's, means "Yahweh saves", "Yahweh is salvation" or "Salvation of Yahweh".

II. Author and Setting

 

A. Introduction

       Isaiah was the son of Amoz. Nothing is known about his father, Amoz, beyond his name. Isaiah mentions two sons in his book: Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which means "Hasten spoil, quick booty" and She'ar-Yashub, which means "a remnant shall remain". Isaiah prophesied mainly in Jerusalem. Based on his vocabulary usage and style, it seems clear that Isaiah was very well educated. According to Jewish tradition found in the Mishna, Manasseh stuck Isaiah in a hollow tree and then sawed him in half as punishment for opposing him (cf. Hebrews 11:37).

 

B. Authorship Problem

       1. Since the rise of higher criticism in the nineteenth century, the majority opinion has been to divide Isaiah into two parts, and to postulate two authors. Chapters 1-39, so the theory goes, were written by Isaiah son of Amoz in the eighth century BC. Chapters 40-66 were then composed by the so-called "Second Isaiah", an anonymous writer, living during or shortly after the time of the Babylonian Exile.
       The reasons for this belief in a multiple authorship of Isaiah are as follows:

 

a. the philosophic denial of the possibility of predictive prophesy.
b. Anti-Semitism in 19th century Germany. When the theory was developed, anti-semites had as their goal the elimination of any claim to greatness by Jews and Judaism. Therefore, they attempted to discredit the reliability and veracity of the Old Testament. This point is made by Rachel Margalioth in her book, The Indivisible Isaiah, New York: Yeshiva University; Jerusalem: Sura Institute for Research, 1964:

 

       "One of the principle incentives for splitting up the book is the anti-Semitic factor. The German professors, Marti, Duhm, and their colleagues, evolved a system proclaiming the "true" Isaiah, who lived in the days of Hezekiah, the prophet of doom of the Jewish people: 'der Prophet des Endes dieses Volkes Judas.'In the opinion of Marti and his colleagues the people of Israel have no future whatsoever in the outlook of the 'true' Isaiah. He prophesied utter doom and destruction, leaving them no remnant, name, or vestige. Thus all expressions of consolation scattered through the book must necessarily be later additions..." (p. 17)

c. the difference in literary style between chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66.
d. theological differences between the two halves.

       2. The older tradition, of course, is to accept the claim of authorship for Isaiah, and to insist on a single author for the entire book. The reasons for rejecting the concept of two Isaiahs are as follows:

 

a. acceptance of the possibility of predictive prophesy.
b. the subjectivity of the new tradition lacks the firm ground of objective, unambiguous fact.
c. unbroken Jewish tradition argues for a single author for the book.

 

C. Historical Setting

       If the traditional authorship of Isaiah is accepted, it is a compilation of a series of prophesies Isaiah received and committed to writing over the years 740 to 690 BC. At the same time he was prophesying in Judah, Amos and Hosea were busy in the Northern Kingdom of Israel; Micah was writing in the south. Isaiah's prophetic work was composed during the reigns of the following kings (see 2 Kings 15:8-21:18):

 

 

 

The Book of Jeremiah

I. Title

        The book is called by the name of its author, in both the Hebrew original and in English translations.

II. Author and Setting

 

A. Introduction

        Jeremiah's name means "Yahweh establishes". Jeremiah was a priest, the son of Hilkiah, and lived in the priestly town of Anathoth, about three miles north of Jerusalem (1 Chron. 6:60). There is little disagreement over Jeremiah being the author of the book that bears his name, though its arrangement is probably due to Baruch, his amanuensis.

 

B. Historical Setting

        Jeremiah lived from about 627 to 580 BC, a crucial period in the history of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. Except for a brief period of independence under Josiah, Judah existed as a vassal under Assyria, Egypt and Babylon. He began writing during the thirteenth year of Josiah's reign (Jer. 1:2, 25:3).
        In the introduction to his commentary on Jeremiah, John Bright writes:

 

        "Before one can hope to read the words of Israel's prophets with understanding and appreciation, it is necessary first of to gain at least a general knowledge of the times in which they lived and the situation to which they addressed themselves. In view of what has already been said the reasons for this are obvious. The very nature of the prophetic office as the prophets themselves understood it demands of us a concern with history. Had the prophets been religious teachers, philosophers, or thinkers who propounded timeless truths concerning God, man, and the proper conduct of life, it might be possible to abstract their words from history and appreciate them for their intrinsic worth and their literary quality without troubling too much about the circumstances that called them forth. But the prophets, it cannot be said too often, were nothing of the sort. On the contrary, they saw themselves as messengers of their God, commissioned to convey to the people the word that their God had given them. This conviction of theirs, whatever we may think of it, must be taken with utmost seriousness if we are to understand them. Because of their function their word was always a specific word: a specific directive to a specific people, caught up in the never-to-be- repeated events of a specific and never-to-be-repeated time in their history. Moreover, it was essentially a word that interpreted events, the events through which the people were passing or were about to pass, in light of the divine demands and promises. And this is why it is only against the background of their times that the sayings of the prophets come alive -- indeed, in many instances, make sense at all." (John Bright. Jeremiah, the Anchor Bible. New York: Doubleday, 1965, p. xxvii)

        Jeremiah ministered during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah, and the governorship of Gedaliah. When he began his ministry, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had already been in captivity for nearly one hundred years; Josiah was attempting to extend his influence over the territory formerly controlled by the north.
        Manasseh's evil reign had ended fifteen years before, perhaps when Jeremiah was quite young. After Manasseh, Amon's reign, also evil, lasted barely two years.
        Jeremiah's ministry began during the early reformation by Josiah, a reformation that was mostly skin deep, affecting few beyond his immediate circle. It would be five more years before the book of the law would be found by Hilkiah, as he was cleaning the temple.
        On the world scene, Jeremiah's lifetime was a period of empires jockeying for world domination. The Assyrian empire began to disintegrate after the death of Ashurbanipal in 626 BC, with the capital, Nineveh, falling to Nebuchadnezzar in 612 BC. In 605 BC Nebuchadnezzar defeated Egypt at Carchemish, thus gaining control of all of western Asia.
        In 609 BC Josiah was killed in battle at Megiddo, when he foolishly went out to fight Pharaoh Necho. Judah, at this point, became a vassal to Egypt.
        In 606/05 BC, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and took many captives (Daniel 1:1). In 603 BC, Jehoiakim rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar; from that time on, Babylon, Moab and Ammon began systematically dismantling the Jewish state.
        In 597 BC Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, bound Jehoiakim, and took him to Babylon, along with many of the temple vessels.
        In 588 BC, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem until 586 when famine swept the city; Nebuchadnezzar sacked the city, and burned it to the ground. The temple was destroyed.
        Jeremiah was not the only prophet at this time: preaching with him, were Zephaniah, Habakkuk, and Huldah, the prophetess in Judah. Meanwhile, Daniel and Ezekiel were busy in Babylonian captivity.
        To get a good picture of what is transpiring during Jeremiah's prophetic ministry, the interested reader should review 2 Kings 21-25 and 2 Chronicles 33-36.

III. An Outline of Jeremiah

 

I. Early Prophecies -- Under Josiah and Jehoiakim 1-20

 

A. The commission of Jeremiah 1
B. Judah, Yahweh's unfaithful wife 2-6
C. Judah, the hypocrite 7-10
D. Judah, breaker of the covenant 11-12
E. Five parables of judgment 13-20

II. Later Prophecies -- Under Jehoiakim and Zedekiah 21-39

 

A. Captivity in Babylon predicted 21-29
B. Restoration predicted 30-33
C. Captivity anticipated 34-39

III. Prophecies after the fall of Jerusalem 40-45

 

A. Gedaliah as governor 40-41
B. Johanan's rebellion 41-43
C. Jeremiah's prophecies in Egypt 43-44
D. Jeremiah's prophesy for Baruch 45

IV. Prophecies concerning foreign nations 46-51

 

A. Southwest 46-47
B. Southeast 48-49:22
C. North 49:23-33
D. East 49:34-51:64

V. The Fall of Jerusalem 52

Questions on Jeremiah

 

1. When did Jeremiah prophesy?
2. To which kingdom did he prophesy?
3. Jeremiah 52:1-34 is almost a verbatim quotation from what other section of the Bible?
4. What did the visions of the "almond sprout" and the "boiling pot" signify (1:11-16)?
5. According to chapter eleven through twelve, what is the principle reason for God's judgment against Judah?
6. What is the significance of the drought (chapters 14-15)?
7. What did the parable of the "yokes" predict?
8. Distinguish the two prophecies of the 70 years captivity as given in chapters 25 and 29.
9. Summarize the prophesy in chapter 31. Why is it significant?
10. Who were Gedaliah, Ishmael and Johanan?
11. Which nation besides Judah received predictions of divine judgment in the book of Jeremiah?

 

 

The Book of Ezekiel

I. Title

       The title of the book is the same in Hebrew as it is in English or Greek translations. The name Ezekiel means "God is strong" or "God strengthens".

II. Author and Setting

 

A. Author

       The book of Ezekiel is a long series of oracles received by the priest Ezekiel, son of Buzi, who began to prophesy in Babylonia in the fifth year of Jehoiachin's exile, c. 593 BC. He was therefore born around 622 BC, and had been taken captive to Babylon with Jehoiachin in 597 BC (cf. 2 Kings 24).
       He was married, but his wife died the day the siege against Jerusalem began, about 588 BC.

 

B. Setting

       The entire book is dated according to the reign of Jehoiachin, and covers the years from about 593 through 570 BC. The first deportation of captives to Babylon from Judah occurred about 605 BC, leaving Jehoiachin as king in Jerusalem. This is when Daniel was taken captive. The second deportation occurred about 597 BC, which is when Ezekiel found himself taken away. Jerusalem and the temple were pillaged, but not destroyed. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin away as captive, and left Zedekiah as king. In 586, Nebuchadnezzar sacked and destroyed both Jerusalem and the temple. For further background, read 2 Kings 23:36-25:30 and 2 Chronicles 36:5-21. Jeremiah and Daniel were both contemporaries of Ezekiel.

III. An Outline of Ezekiel

 

I. Doom 1-24

 

A. The Call and Commissioning 1:1-3:27
B. Symbolism 4:1-5:17
C. Doom against the mountains and people 6:1-7:27
D. Abominations 8:1-11:25
E. Exile 12:1-20
F. Denunciation of false prophets 12:21-14:11
G. Sinners cannot escape -- ironic Jerusalem 14:12-23
H. Parable of useless vinestock 15
I. Parable of the adulterous wife 16
J. Parable of the eagles and vine 17
K. Retort to an epigram impugning God's justice 18
L. Dirge over the monarchy 19
M. Compulsory new Exodus 20
N. Three oracles on the punishing sword 21
O. Three oracles on Jerusalem, the polluted 22
P. Parable of the adulterous sisters 23
Q. The parable of the filthy pot 24:1-14
R. The sign of the death of Ezekiel's wife 24:15-27

II. Consolation 25-48

 

A. Judgment on the Nations 25-32
B. Ezekiel a watchman 33
C. Renovation of the Leadership 34
D. Denunciation of Edom, hope for Israel 35:1-36:15
E. Renovation of Israel's heart 36:16-38
F. Dry bones renewed 37
G. Defeat of Gog 38-39
H. A Messianic priestly code 40-48

Questions on Ezekiel

 

1. When did Ezekiel prophesy?
2. Where was Ezekiel living while he prophesied?
3. For the first six years of his ministry, what was Ezekiel unable to do (3:24- 27)?
4. What odd things did Ezekiel have to do to illustrate certain of his prophesies (4-5, 12)?
5. What tragedy did Ezekiel suffer so as to illustrate a prophesy (24)?
6. Which two chapters of Ezekiel have been described as "obscene" and "pornographic"?
7. Who is being addressed in Ezekiel 28? What are the possibilities and which is your position?
8. Who are Gog and Magog in chapters thirty-eight and thirty-nine? Where else in scripture are these names mentioned and when is the battle here described going to take place?
9. What is described in chapters forty through forty-eight?
10. When does the temple Ezekiel describes exist? What theological problems does it raise?

 

 

The Book of Hosea

I. Title

       The title is the same in both Hebrew and in Greek and English translations. Hosea is a variant form of the name "Joshua"; "Jesus" is the Anglicized Greek form of the same name, which means "salvation."

II. Author and Setting

 

A. Author

       Very little is known about Hosea, since he is never mentioned outside this book that bears his name.

 

B. Setting

       The prophesies of Hosea cover a time period from about 753 BC to 715 BC, during the reigns of Jeroboam II and Uzziah, through that of Hezekiah. Jereboam II died about 753 and Hezekiah began his reign about 715.
       The golden age of prosperity for Israel was ending with Jeroboam II. Following his death would come years of chaos, ending finally with the destruction of the nation in 722 BC. A total of six kings reigned in the Northern Kingdom of Israel between Jeroboam II and the end; most of the reigns were cut short by assassination.
       During this period of political unrest, the Northern Kingdom was in a bad way both spiritually and morally. Although they continued to worship Yahweh, they mixed the worship of other gods with it, and performed child sacrifice and involved themselves in sacred prostitution.
       Hosea's prophesies were directed to the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
       Prophets contemporary with Hosea were Amos and perhaps Jonah, in Israel; in Judah, Micah and Isaiah were prophesying.

III. An Outline of Hosea

 

I. The Prologue -- Hosea and the Prostitute 1-3
II. Israel's Sin Described 4-7
III. Israel's Sin Punished 8-10
IV. Israel Restored 11-14

Questions on Hosea

 

1. When did Hosea prophesy?
2. To which kingdom did he prophesy?
3. What were the names of Hosea's children and what did each name mean?
4. What did Hosea's marriage illustrate?
5. What sins is Israel guilty of?
6. What judgments are prophesied against Israel?
7. What does Hosea say about the priests who lack knowledge?
8. Does God want to judge his people?

 

 

The Book of Joel

I. Title

        The name of the book is the same both in Hebrew and in the English and Greek translations. The name Joel means "Yahweh is God".

II. Author and Setting

        Joel is a common name in the Old Testament, but the author of this prophesy is mentioned nowhere else but here. He prophesied to Judah and Jerusalem.
        The date for Joel's prophesy is uncertain. Dates ranging from the early pre-exilic to the late post-exilic period have been postulated.

 

A. Early Date

1. Quotations of Joel appear in Isaiah, Micah, and Amos: Joel 3:10 is the same as Isaiah 2:4, which is also the same as Micah 4:3. Joel 3:16 is the same as Amos 1:2 and 4:8.
2. The enemies of Judah in Joel are the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Greeks and Edomites, rather than the Assyrians and Babylonians.
3. No mention of a king or princes in the book suggests a date during the early part of Joash's reign, when he was a minor under the guardianship of Jehiada the high priest.

B. Late Date

1. Judah is called Israel in 3:1 and 2 and 2:27, suggesting at least a date after 722 BC (after the fall of the Northern Kingdom).
2. Assyria and Babylon are not mentioned, suggesting a date after the fall of Babylon to Cyrus in 539 BC.
3. Joel could just as easily be quoting from Isaiah, Micah and Amos, as they from he.
4. The historical allusion of 3:2 seems most naturally to refer to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 BC.
5. No king of Israel is mentioned, which would be reasonable assuming a post-exilic date, when Israel had no kings.
6. There is no mention of a locust plague in the books of 1-2 Kings or 1-2 Chronicles, despite the fact that Joel describes this plague as one that would never be forgotten and one that would be remembered and talked about forever.
7. There is no mention of the sin of idolatry, one of the central issues for pre-exilic prophets, and the most notable feature to distinguish pre exilic from post-exilic prophets.

III. The Day of the Lord

        It should be noted that the use of the phrase "Day of the Lord" or "Day of Yahweh" is not automatically a reference to the end of the world. Rather, it was used to describe any period when God was acting in bringing judgment against a people. Below is a listing of all the occurrences of the phrase in the Bible. A perusal should give the reader a good overview of the range of meanings for the phrase.

Old Testament

 

Isaiah 2:6-12; 13:6, 9; 22:5; 34:8; 61:2
Lamentations 2:22
Ezekiel 7:7-19; 13:5; 30:3
Joel 1:15; 2:1; 2:11; 2:31; 3:14
Amos 5:18, 20
Obadiah 15
Zephaniah 1:7-18; 2:2-3
Zechariah 14:1
Malachi 4:5

New Testament

 

Romans 2:5
1 Corinthians 1:8; 1:14
2 Corinthians 1:14
Philippians 1:6-10; 2:16
1 Thessalonians 5:2
2 Thessalonians 2:2
2 Peter 3:10-12
Revelation 16:14

IV. An Outline of Joel

 

I. The Locust Invasion 1:1-2-17
II. Yahweh's Response 2:18-3:21

Questions on Joel

 

1. When did Joel prophesy? Discuss the possibilities.
2. Characterize the "day of the Lord" as it is used in Joel.
3. Should the locusts of Joel be pictured as actual locusts, or are they pictures of something else?
4. What section of Joel was fulfilled at Pentecost? Where in the book of Acts is it quoted?

 

 

The Book of Amos

I. Title

       The title is the same in Hebrew as it is in the English and Greek translations. The name Amos means "burden" or "burdensome"

II. Author and Setting

       Amos is not mentioned outside of this book. He was from Tekoa, a village about six miles south of Bethlehem, in Judah. Amos was placed after Joel in the canon because it seemed to be an expansion of Joel 3:16: "Yahweh will roar from Zion." In the same way, Obadiah seemed to be an expansion of Amos 9:12: "that they may possess the remnant of Edom." Amos prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
       The book is dated between 767 and 753 BC. Political, both the Northern Kingdom under Jeroboam II and the Southern Kingdom, under Uzziah, were at the height of their prosperity. They had most of the nations around them subjugated, and they were free of the fear of external powers. Neither kingdom had any obvious reason to anticipate God's coming judgment, although both kings were suffering a time of moral corruption, luxury, and vice. The corruption existed not only in politics, but also in religion: the prophets and priests were serving God only for profit.
       Prophets contemporary with Amos were Hosea and Jonah.

III. An Outline of Amos

 

I. The general judgments on the nations 1:1-2:16
II. The specific judgments on Israel 3:1-6:14
III. The symbolic judgment on Israel 7:1-9:10
IV. The millennial glory for Israel 9:11-15

IV. Questions on Amos

 

1. When did Amos prophesy?
2. To which kingdom did he prophesy?
3. Why is there no mention of "fire" falling on Israel?
4. What clarification does Amos make concerning the "day of the Lord" in chapter five?
5. What was the meaning of the "plumbline"?
6. What sins of Israel are summarized in chapter eight?

 

 

The Book of Obadiah

I. Title

        The title is the same in Hebrew as it is in English and Greek translation. The name Obadiah means "servant of Yahweh". It was a relatively common Old Testament name.

II. Author and Setting

        Virtually nothing is known about Obadiah; even the date of writing is obscure, though two dates dominate the discussion.

 

A. Early Date

        Some postulate that Obadiah wrote the book sometime between 847 and 841 BC, when Edom revolted against Judah. Just before Jehoram died, the Philistines and Arabians invaded Jerusalem, while Edom watched from the sidelines. Those who hold to an early date point out that Amos and Jeremiah seem to make reference to part of Obadiah's prophesy.

 

B. Late Date

        Most scholars consider the calamity Obadiah describes in 11-14 is the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 587-586 BC. The Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is the only one of which it is recorded that the Edomites participated (Psalm 137:7 and 1 Esdras 4:45). The reference to the suffering caused by the fall of Jerusalem are so vivid that G.A. Smith, for example, believes that it indicates that Obadiah wrote very early in the exilic period. Others, however, believe that the latter half of Obadiah better fits a post-exilic background.
        Verse seven states that the Edomites have been driven out of their old land (cf. Mal. 1:3-4). After the fall of Jerusalem, Edomites under Arab pressure began moving into the Negev (cf. 1 Esdras 4:50), which subsequently came to be known as Idumea. By the late sixth century BC, Arabs had largely pushed the Edomites out of the area of Petra, which had at one time been the Edomite capital. Verses 8-10 announce the future extermination of the Edomites, so this prophesy had to be given before its fulfillment during the time of the Maccabees (see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 13.257). The territory occupied by the Jews according to verses 19-20 is the area just around Jerusalem, as in the days of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 11:25-36). Thus, the latest clear indication of a date for the prophesy would place it in the mid fifth century BC.

 

C. Parallels with other prophecies:

        Other prophetic denunciations of Edom include Isaiah 34:5-17, 63:1-6, Jeremiah 49:7-22, Lamentations 4:21-22, Ezekiel 26:12-14, Joel 3:19, and Amos 1:11-12.
        There are many identical phrases in Obadiah 1-9 and Jeremiah 49:7-22, suggesting some literary relationship between the two. The different order of the phrases in the two prophecies makes it possible that they are both quoting some earlier divine oracle against Edom. Since some of the additional material in Jeremiah is characteristic of that prophet, and since the order is more natural in Obadiah, it is likely that the latter is closer in form to the original prophesy. Some scholars, however, hold that either Jeremiah (so Keil) or Obadiah (so Hitzig) made use of the other.
        Several phrases are found in both Obadiah and Joel:

 

Obadiah 10 is the same as Joel 3:19
11 is the same as 3:3
15 is the same as 1:15, 2:1, 3:4, 3:7, and 3:14
18 is the same as 3:8

        It looks like in Joel 2:32 that Joel, with the words "as Yahweh said", is quoting, perhaps from Obadiah 18. It seems likely, then, that Obadiah came before Joel, and had an influence on him. This lends further support to the contention that Joel is post-exilic.

III. An Outline of Obadiah

 

I. Edom will be destroyed 1-9
II. Edom will be punished because of its sin against Israel 10-21

Questions on Obadiah

 

1. When did Obadiah prophesy?
2. What nation is being judged by God in Obadiah?
3. For what sins is the nation judged?

 

The Book of Jonah

I. Title

          The title is the same in Hebrew as it is in English and Greek translations. The name Jonah means "dove" in Hebrew.

II. Author and Setting

          Jonah was the son of Amittai, and according to 2 Kings 14:25, he prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II. Jonah was raised in Galilee, in the city of Gath-hepher, which is located just a few miles north of Nazareth. The book dates to between 775 and 750 BC, and it describes how his special message to Nineveh was finally delivered.
          There is a Jewish tradition that states that Jonah was the son of the widow of Zarephath, the same child that Elijah raised from the dead. There is no hard evidence to prove this, however.
          Since the days of Omri in 885, the Northern Kingdom had suffered sporadic attacks by both Assyria and Syria. During the reign of Jeroboam II, Israel was living in relative peace and prosperity.
          Assyria, during Jonah's day, was on the rise as a world power. Nineveh, its capital, had a population of around 600,000. The king of Assyria when Jonah showed up with his message of repentance was either Shalmanezer IV (783-773 BC) or Ashurdan III (773-755 BC).

III. An Outline of Jonah

 

I. Jonah runs away 1:1-17
II. Jonah prays 2:1-10
III. Jonah obeys 3:1-10
IV. Jonah complains 4:1-11

Questions on Jonah

 

1. When did Jonah prophesy?
2. What great lesson was the book of Jonah intended to convey to Israel?
3. Why did Jonah flee to Tarshish?
4. Why didn't God just find another prophet to go to Nineveh?
5. What lesson does the book teach regarding God's sovereign purposes?

 

 

The Book of Micah

I. Title

        The title of the book is the same in Hebrew as it is in the English and Greek translations. The name Micah means "who is like Yahweh?"

II. Author and Setting

        Micah was from Moresheth, about twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem on the Philistine border, in Judah. He prophesied to both Jerusalem and Samaria, though his principle ministry was to the Southern Kingdom. His prophesy was remembered and respected in the days of Jeremiah, and his words convinced the king not to put Jeremiah to death (Jeremiah 26:18-19).
        His prophesies were spoken during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, placing his dates then between about 740 and 695 BC. Contemporaries of Micah were Isaiah in the south and Hosea in the north. See 2 Kings 15:8-21:18 for further information on the events of this period.

III. An Outline of Micah

 

I. Judgment against Samaria and Jerusalem 1:1-2:13
II. Rebuke and promise 3:1-5:15
III. The case against Israel 6:1-7:20

Questions on Micah

 

1. When did Micah prophesy?
2. To which kingdom did he prophesy? What is significant about this?
3. What sins did Micah denounce?
4. What did Micah suggest were Israel's three outstanding failures, as implied in Micah 6:8?

 

 

The Book of Nahum

I. Title

        The title of the book is the same in Hebrew as it is in the English and Greek translations. The name Nahum means "consoler", "consolation", or "comforter."

II. Author and Setting

 

A. Author

        Very little is known about Nahum's life. He is mentioned only in the first verse of the book that bears his name and in Luke 3:25. The name itself is not uncommon; it occurs often in Northwest Semitic inscriptions, once in the Arad ostraca (seventh century BC) and once in the Lachish letters (seventh century BC). It occurs often in the Mishna, also. Nahum is nowhere called a "prophet" (Hebrew: nabi'), but the book is classified both as an "oracle" (Hebrew masa') and as a "vision" (Hebrew hazon), classifications associated also with Habakkuk, Obadiah, Malachi, and throughout Isaiah.
        The only thing we know about Nahum is his hometown, Elkosh. Where the town of Elkosh might be, though, remains something of a mystery. Although there is an Elkosh is Assyria, just north of Nineveh, this seems an unlikely possibility for a Hebrew prophet's hometown. A more likely possibility places his hometown in Galilee, in a spot that is now known as Capernaum. In Hebrew (Kephar Nahum) the name of the city means "City of Nahum".

 

B. Setting

        Two different dates are generally accepted as possibilities for Nahum's ministry:

 

1. Between 661 and 612 BC (between the conquest of No-Amon [Thebes] in Egypt [Nahum 3:8] and the destruction of Nineveh in 612 BC.)
2. Between 722 and 701 BC (after the capture of Israel and before the siege of Jerusalem by Sennacherib [cf. Micah].)

        There are two events described in the book of Nahum that could be helpful in establishing a date for the book. One is the description of one "who plots evil against Yahweh and counsels wickedness", in 1:11. The second event is Assyria's invasion of Thebes (No-Amon) in 3:8. The only problem, of course, is that Assyria invaded Thebes four times: during the reigns of Sargon, Sennacherib, Essarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal, covering a time span from 718 to 657 BC.
        More precision than this is difficult to demonstrate.

III. An Outline of Nahum

 

I. Yahweh will avenge his people 1:1-15
II. The battle for Nineveh 2:1-13
III. The fate of Nineveh 3:1-19

Questions on Nahum

 

1. When did Nahum prophesy?
2. Against whom does he prophesy?
3. When was his prophesy fulfilled?
4. What were the sins for which Nineveh was to be judged?
5. Which came first, Jonah or Nahum?

 

 

The Book of Habakkuk

I. Title

       The title of the book is the same in Hebrew as it is in the English and Greek translations. The name Habakkuk may mean "embrace", or it may be related to the Assyrian plant name hambakuku. The Greek form of his name lends support to this theory: Hambakoun.

II. Author and Setting

 

A. Author

       Almost nothing is known about Habakkuk; his name appears only in the titles to chapters one and three of his own book. There have been suggestions that Habakkuk was the son of the Shunammite woman of 2 Kings 4:16, or the watchman of Isaiah 21:6, all without any firm evidence of any kind. In Bel and the Dragon, the apocryphal addition to the book of Daniel that appears in the Septuagint, Habakkuk is shown making a journey to Babylon to feed Daniel while he is in the lion's den:

 

       The prophet Habakkuk, who was in Judaea, had made a stew; he broke bread into the bowl, and he was on the way to his field, carrying it to the reapers, when an angel of the Lord said to him, "Habakkuk, carry that meal you have to Babylon for Daniel, who is in the lion-pit."
       "My lord," replied Habakkuk, "I have never been to Babylon, and I do not know where the lion-pit is." The angel took the prophet by the head, and carrying him by his hair swept him to Babylon with the blast of his breath and set him down above the pit. Habakkuk called out, "Daniel, Daniel! Take the meal that God has sent you." Daniel said, "You do indeed remember me, God; you never abandon those who love you." He got up and ate; and at once God's angel brought Habakkuk home again. (verses 33-39, REB).

       There is one manuscript that says that Habakkuk was the son of Joshua, of the tribe of Levi. This later tradition that Habakkuk was from the tribe of Levi, combined with the fact that he is one of only three men in the Old Testament to be called a prophet in the superscription of his book, and the fact that he is presented as a prophet again at the start of chapter three, which is a song, suggests that he might indeed have been a Levite, making him a professional or temple prophet. 1 Chronicles 25:1-8 seems to suggest that the prophets were musicians near the end of the Old Testament period.

 

B. Setting

       Although we don't know precisely when Habakkuk prophesied, we get a pretty good clue in 1:6, where he refers to the "rise of the Chaldeans". If the "Chaldeans" are the Neo-Babylonians, then Habakkuk's words might be dated between the fall of Nineveh (612 BC) and the battle of Carchemesh (605 BC).
       Most scholars are agreed in dating Habakkuk to the period between 612 and 587 BC. Such a date would explain the tradition, recorded in Bel and the Dragon, that associates Habakkuk with Daniel, because they would then be contemporaries.

III. An Outline of Habakkuk

 

I. Habakkuk's first complaint 1:1-4
II. Yahweh's response 1:5-11
III. Habakkuk's second complaint 1:12-17
IV. Yahweh's response 2:1-5
V. Five woes 2:6-20
VI. A prayer 3:1-19

Questions on Habakkuk

 

1. When did Habakkuk prophesy?
2. With what two problems does Habakkuk struggle?
3. What does Habakkuk have to say regarding faith and trust?

 

 

The Book of Zephaniah

I. Title

       The title is the same in Hebrew as it is in the English and Greek translations. The name Zephaniah could mean "Yahweh hides", and may thus reflect the terror in the days of Manasseh, at the time of Zephaniah's birth. Sabottka, J. M. P. Smith, and J. D. W. Watts, on the other hand, have pointed out that his name might also be derived from a combination of Zaphon and Ya (an abbreviation for Yahweh). Zaphon was an important Canaanite deity who gave his name to a mountain north of Israel, where the gods were supposed to live. The combination of Zaphon and Ya could then be translated as "Zaphon is Yahweh". Such a confession would claim that the God which some people call Zaphon is really Yahweh. Zaphon is also the common Semitic word for "north" (cf. Gen. 13:14; Ex. 26:20; 40:22; Jer. 1:14; Is. 14:13, 31; Ezek 8:14; Psa. 48:3; 89:13; Job 26:7).

II. Author and Setting

       A. Author

       The name Zephaniah occurs ten times in the Old Testament and is spelled in a couple of different ways. Perhaps four different people are called Zephaniah:

 

1. The prophet whose book bears his name (Zephaniah 1:1)
2. A priest, the son of Maaseiah (Jeremiah 21:1; 29:25, 29; 37:3; 52:24; 2 Kings 25:18)
3. A Kohathite, the son of Tahath (1 Chronicles 6:36)
4. A priest, the father of Josiah (Zechariah 6:10, 14).

       B. Setting

       In light of the words in the superscription (1:1), the reader might suppose that the date of Zephaniah would not be a problem. Clearly, Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of Josiah (640-609 BC). However, the question is, exactly when during his reign did Zephaniah prophesy: before the reforms of 621 BC or after?
       Most scholars prefer a date before Josiah's reform in 621 BC, because Zephaniah spends the book denouncing such syncretistic practices as Baal worship and child sacrifice, which had become more widespread in Israel since Manasseh's reign. By denouncing such practices, Zephaniah could have been a contributing influence in bringing about reform. However, some scholars have noted that the text mentions "the remnant of Baal", in 1:4, which suggests that the reforms had already come, but failed, in that a remnant of Baal worship still persisted.

III. An Outline of Zephaniah

 

I. Judgment on the "earth" 1:1-3
II. Judgment on Judah 1:4-2:3
III. The Day of Yahweh 2:4-3:20

Questions on Zephaniah

 

1. When did Zephaniah prophesy?
2. To which kingdom did he prophesy?
3. What is unusual about Zephaniah's family background?
4. How does Zephaniah characterize Jerusalem?
5. What does Zephaniah have to say about the "day of the Lord"?

 

The Book of Haggai

I. Title

       The book has the same title in Hebrew as it has in English and Greek translation. The name Haggai (pronounced ha-GUY, with the stress on the second syllable) seems to be an adjective derived from the Hebrew word for "feast"; therefore his name means "festive".

II. Author and Setting

       There are two references to Haggai in the Bible outside of his own book: Ezra 5:1 and 6:14. Haggai's name is often linked with Zechariah (there may even be an allusion to him in Zechariah 8:9), since Zechariah was prophesying about the same time in Judah and Jerusalem.
       He proclaimed the word of God over a five month period in 520 BC. How he came to be in Jerusalem, whether he was an exile or if he had already been there, is unknown. In his book and in Ezra he is referred to as "prophet. He is also called the "Angel of the LORD" -- that is, the messenger of Yahweh, in Haggai 1:13.
       It is possible to date Haggai's prophesies very exactly:

 

1. The first day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius I (1:1), which would be August 29, 520 BC.
2. The twenty-fourth day of the sixth month of the second year of Darius I, when they resumed work on the second temple (1:15a), which would be September 21, 520 BC.
3. The twenty-first day of the seventh month of the second year of Darius I, which would be October 21, 520 BC.
4. The twenty-fourth day of the ninth month of the second year of Darius I (2:19-20), which would be December 18, 520 BC.

       By 520 BC some of the Jews had been back in Jerusalem for several years. Cyrus had conquered Babylon in 538 BC. He then issued a decree that all of Babylon's captives could return to their homes. Ezra 1-6 describes the first group of Jews to make that trip home. They came at great sacrifice, but also with high hopes; however, when they reached Jerusalem around 536 BC, there was nothing but ruins, poverty, and opposition from the Samaritans and the local population. Consequently, nothing was done about rebuilding the temple between 536 and 520 BC, when Haggai came on the scene. For more information, look at Ezra 5:13-16, where the people had been ordered to rebuild the temple, had even started, but then failed to finish. Read Ezra 1-6 for background.

III. An Outline of Haggai

 

I. Yahweh's call to rebuild the temple 1:1-15
II. Yahweh's promise to restore the glory 2:1-9
III. Yahweh's blessings on a defiled people 2:10-19
IV. Yahweh makes Zerubbabel his signet ring 2:20-23

Questions on Haggai

 

1. When did Haggai prophesy?
2. What specific charges did Haggai bring against the people?
3. What encouragement did Haggai give?

 

 

The Book of Zechariah

I. Title

       The title is the same in Hebrew as it is in the English and Greek translations. The name Zechariah probably means "Yahweh remembers".

II. Author and Setting

        A. Author

       The name Zechariah is a very common name in the Old Testament, especially among the priests and Levites of the post-exilic period. There are perhaps thirty different people mentioned in the Old Testament by this name. Four of the most familiar would be:

 

1. A son of the high priest Jehoiada who was slain in the court of the House of the Lord by order of King Joash (837-800 BC). This Zechariah denounced the apostasy of Judah and preached God's judgment against her (2 Chronicles 24:20-22).
2. A king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the son of Jereboam II, who reigned only six months before being murdered in 745 BC (2 Kings 14:29; 15:8, 11).
3. A son of Jeberechiah, one of the two men Isaiah chose to witness when he wrote Maher-shalal-hash-baz on a large tablet (Isaiah 8:2).
4. The prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, who began prophesying in Judah about 520 BC. He is referred to as "the son of Berechia, the son of Iddo" in Zechariah 1:1 and 7 and simply as "the son of Iddo" in Ezra 5:1 and 6:14.

       For some reason, this difference, "son of Berechia" or "son of Iddo" has caused concern among some commentators and skeptics. Of course it is clear that "son of Iddo" is simply an abbreviated genealogy, equivalent to calling Jesus "son of David".         B. Date and Composition of the Book of Zechariah

The first eight chapters of Zechariah are nicely dated:

 

1. 1:1 -- the eighth month of the second year of Darius I, which would be October, 520 BC.
2. 1:7 -- the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, in the second year of Darius I, which would be February 15, 519 BC. This date suggests that Zechariah saw all eight of his visions in one night.
3. 7:1 -- the fourth year of King Darius I, in the fourth day of the ninth month of Kislev, which would be December 7, 518 BC.

       There are no dates given for chapters 9-14 and Zechariah's name does not even appear in that section. Times have changed and there is no reference made to Darius or any other king. The temple is standing, instead of waiting to be built (cf. 9:8, 11:13-14, and 14:21). As a result, many scholars suggest that chapters 9-14 of Zechariah were not written by Zechariah at all.
       There is very solid evidence to support this position.

 

Matthew 27:9-10:

Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me."

       The problem comes in locating this prophesy, which, rather than appearing in the book of Jeremiah, instead shows up in Zechariah 11:12-13.
       One thing to notice is that neither the Septuagint nor the Masoretic text serve as Matthew's text. One possibility to explain the slightly different wording is to suggest that Matthew made use of an Aramaic Targum.
       1. One common attempt to explain the introduction of Jeremiah's name in place of that of Zechariah in Matthew, is to argue that, so far as the principle features are concerned, this prophesy is simply a resumption of the prophecy of Jeremiah 19, and that Zechariah announces a second fulfillment of this prophecy (Hegstenberg), or that it rests on the prophecy of Jeremiah 18, in which the potter is also introduced, and that its fulfillment goes beyond Zechariah's prophecy, so that Jeremiah 18 and 19 are fulfilled at the same time.
       Comparison is also sometimes made to Mark 1:2-3 where Mark states:

 

       It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way -- a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"

       Here, Mark has quoted from two separate passages in the Old Testament and combined them: Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. So, perhaps Matthew, like Mark, quotes from both Zechariah and Jeremiah, and then names only the more prominent of the two prophets.
       Unfortunately for this explanation, it works only in abstract; it is difficult, if not impossible, to find even one word in the context of what Matthew attributes to Jeremiah, actually in the book of Jeremiah.
       2. A second answer to the problem that has been suggested is that Matthew is simply quoting from a now lost prophecy of Jeremiah, or to a saying of Jeremiah's that was passed down by oral tradition.
       Unfortunately, this is a little too convenient, besides lacking any substantive evidence.
       3. "Jeremiah" is said to begin the Book of the Prophets in the Hebrew canon, and that the use of this name is intended simply to indicate that Matthew is quoting the prophetic section of the Bible. In essence, then, this idea postulates that "Jeremiah" is synonymous to "the prophets" in general.
       Unfortunately, Matthew does not follow this supposed practice with his other Old Testament citations (and for that matter, neither do any of the other New Testament writers -- cf. Romans 9:25 and Acts 2:16). In Matthew 3:3, 4:14, 8:17, 12:17, 13:14 and 15:7 Matthew quotes Isaiah, and states that he is quoting Isaiah. He does not announce that he is quoting from Jeremiah. In Matthew 2:17 he states that he is quoting from Jeremiah, and there he actually does. In Matthew 12:39-41 and Matthew 16:4 he claims to quote from Jonah -- and does.
       As if that were not devastating enough to the theory, it should also be noted that Jeremiah does not begin the Book of the Prophets in the Hebrew Bible; rather, Joshua leads as the first book of the section that the Jewish people labeled "the Prophets", dividing them into two sections, the Former Prophets (Joshua-Kings) and the Latter Prophets (Isaiah-Malachi).
       4. A fourth idea that has been postulated is to say that Jeremiah in Matthew is simply an example of a transcription error on the part of an early copyist. Unfortunately, all the manuscripts are unanimous in the reading of Jeremiah's name in Matthew 27:9.
       5. Matthew simply made a mistake. Martin Luther wrote:

 

       This chapter gives rise to the question, Why did Matthew attribute the text concerning the thirty pieces of silver to the prophet Jeremiah, whereas it stands here in Zechariah? This and other similar questions do not indeed trouble me very much, because they have but little bearing upon the matter; and Matthew does quite enough by quoting a certain scripture, although he is not quite correct about the name, inasmuch as he quotes prophetic sayings in other places, and yet does not give the words as they stand in the scripture. The same thing may occur now; and if it does not affect the sense that the words are not quoted exactly, what is to hinder his not having given the name quite correctly, since the words are of more importance than the name?

       Unfortunately, taking Luther's position leaves us with an error in the Bible, in one blow eliminating the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.
       6. This leads us then, to the sixth and final possibility, which is the one that will be used in this outline of the Bible: Matthew is correct in attributing this to Jeremiah, and our understanding of the book of Zechariah needs some modification.
       The problem of the unity of Zechariah represents one of the earliest critical problems in Old Testament studies. No serious question was raised against Zechariah's authorship of the entire book until the seventeenth century. Come AD 1638, a certain Cambridge theologian pointed out that Matthew 27:9 quotes Zechariah 11:12 as having been written by Jeremiah rather than Zechariah. The theologian's name was Mede. He decided to depart from the tradition that Zechariah wrote the whole book and wrote "There is reason to suspect that the Holy Spirit (through Matthew) desired to claim three chapters 9, 10, 11 for their real author."
       At first Mede denied that Zechariah wrote all of the book on a scriptural basis. He wrote, "There is no scripture sayeth they (chaps. 9-11) are Zachary's, but here is scripture saith they are Jeremy's as this of the evangelists." But Mede did not base his view of Jeremiah's authorship of Zechariah 9-11 on Matthew's reference alone. He also argued on the basis of internal evidence in these chapters that they were earlier than the exilic period. He said, "Certainly, if a man weighs the contents of some of them, they should in likelihood be of an elder date than the time of Zachary, namely, before the captivity, for the subjects of some of them were scarce in being after that time."
       Mede's suggestion did not attract attention until 1699 when Richard Kidder, Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, wrote, "That Jeremy wrote chapter 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 of Zachary is a very probable opinion. This is certain, that such things are contained in those chapters, as agree with the time of Jeremy, but by no means with that of Zachary, e.g., that the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the Septre of Egypt depart, is foretold Zech 10:11. It is well known that this was past in Zachary's time. And tho' Jeremy might, Zachary could not predict this." (Richard Kidder, A Demonstration of the Mesiah I-III. London, 1664, 1700).
       So why would these sections by Jeremiah be added to the end of a book by Zechariah? Because Zechariah was the last book of the prophets! Zechariah 9-11, Zechariah 12-14, and Malachi (also three chapters in Hebrew) are each called a masa, "a burden". Most scholars therefore believe that these were three floating and anonymous oracles arbitrarily assigned to their present position in the cannon. The third and last of these was given the title "Malachi" from a word in Malachi 1:1 and 3:1, in order to make twelve minor prophets. It is interesting to note that each of these three sections begins with the exact same phrase: "masa deber Yahweh" -- "A burden of Yahweh".

III. An Outline of Zechariah

 

I. The Eight Visions of Zechariah 1:1-6:15
II. Justice and Mercy instead of fasting 7:1-14
III. Blessing will return to Jerusalem 8:1-23
IV. An Oracle by Jeremiah 9:1-11:17
V. An Oracle by an Unknown Prophet 12:1-21

Questions on Zechariah

 

1. When did Zechariah prophesy?
2. Who is the author of Zechariah 1-8?
3. Who is the author of Zechariah 9-14?
4. Discuss the following individuals mentioned in Zechariah:

 

a. Heldai
b. Tobijah
c. Jedaiah
d. Josiah
e. Hen
f. Joshua

5. Discuss the meaning of the following visions:

 

a. Man among the myrtles (1)
b. The four horns and the four craftsmen (1)
c. The surveyor measuring Jerusalem (2)
d. Joshua the priest (3)
e. The lampstand and the olive trees (4)
f. The flying scroll (5)
g. The woman in the basket (5)
h. The four chariots of judgment (6)

6. Explain what happens in chapter twelve. What relationship does it have to Romans 11:25-32?
7. Do you think the two women with stork's wings (in Zechariah 5:9 ) are angels? Why or why not?

 

The Book of Malachi

I. Title

        The title is the same in Hebrew as it is in the English and Greek translations. Malachi is not likely the name of the author of the book; it means simply "my messenger" and occurs in Malachi 1:1 and 3:1; in three one it is simply translated, instead of being treated like a proper name.

II. Author and Setting

 

A. Author

        Based on Mark 1:2-3, Malachi was actually written by the prophet Isaiah
        Isaiah was the son of Amoz. Nothing is known about his father, Amoz, beyond his name. Isaiah mentions two sons in the book of Isaiah: Maher- shalal-hash-baz, which means "Hasten spoil, quick booty" and She'ar-Yashub, which means "a remnant shall remain". Isaiah prophesied mainly in Jerusalem. Based on his vocabulary usage and style, it seems clear that Isaiah was very well educated. According to Jewish tradition found in the Mishna, Manasseh stuck Isaiah in a hollow tree and then sawed him in half as punishment for opposing him (cf. Hebrews 11:37).

 

B. Historical Setting

        Isaiah received prophesies and committed them to writing over the years 740 to 690 BC. At the same time he was prophesying in Judah, Amos and Hosea were busy in the Northern Kingdom of Israel; Micah was writing in the south. Isaiah's prophetic work was composed during the reigns of the following kings (see 2 Kings 15:8-21:18):

D. Spiritual Situation

 

        Degeneracy and official sanction of idolatry in Judah during the reigns of Ahaz and Manasseh only encouraged an already existing problem. Although Hezekiah instituted reforms, both the common people, as well as the upper classes, continued to be attracted to false gods.

 

E. Economic Situation

        Isaiah lived during a period of great prosperity, especially at the beginning of his ministry. However, this prosperity was concentrated in the upper classes, who had a tendency to be stingy and oppressive in handling their wealth.

III. An Outline of Malachi

 

I. Yahweh's complaints 1:1-2:17
II. Yahweh's arrival 3:1-4:6

Questions on Malachi

 

1. Who is the author of Malachi?
2. To which kingdom did he prophesy?
3. What sins of the priests are denounced?
4. What sins of the people are denounced?
5. What two Old Testament figures are mentioned at the end of the book of Malachi?

 

Outline for first and Second Books of Maccabees

  • First and Second Maccabees present reliable history. The Maccabees are in reality the Hasmonaean family. They won independence for the Jews from 166 to 63 BC.
    • a. Judas Maccabeus was one of five sons of the priest Mattathais.
    • b. He rebelled against Antiochus Epiphanes (IV), King of Syria.
    • c. Antiochus defiled the temple at Jerusalem. (See Dan. 11:31).
    • d. After killing a would-be Syrian priest, Mattathias and his five sons fled to the hills.
    • e. Judas, by guerrilla warfare, defeated the Syrians, entered Jerusalem and re-established the temple service. (The Feast of Dedication -- see John 10:22)
    • f. Fighting on for political independence, Judas died in battle. His younger brother took over, but was later killed by a Syrian general.
    • g. Then Simon, the last son, took charge. He made a treaty of peace with Syria.
    • h. In 134 BC Simon and two sons were murdered by his son-in-law.
    • i. The third son, John Hyrcanus, took over. He brought the Jews to the height of their power.
    • j. John was succeeded by his son, Aristobulus, who murdered his mother and a brother, and imprisoned three other brothers.
    • k. Alexandra--the widow-- married one of the brothers. Wars went on, and the struggle between the Pharisees and the Sadducees began.
    • l. Next, Alexandra takes the throne, and was succeeded by her son, Aristobulus II.
    • m. Internal troubles brought Rome into the picture. In 63 BC the dynasty ended. Rome took over.
    • n. Herod the Great marries Marianne, granddaughter of Hyrcanus II. She was a beautiful woman. Herod murdered her and her sons.
    • o. First Maccabees covers 40 years, from the beginning of Antiochus to the death of Simon. Second Maccabees covers the remainder of the dynasty. Herod ruled under Rome. (Third and Fourth Maccabees are not reliable).
       

 

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Old Testament Survey

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