13 November 2010

The 4 Major and 12 Minor Prophets of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam

A minor prophet is one of the writings in the Twelve Prophets section of the Hebrew Bible, also known to Christians as the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. Twelve individuals had their names attributed to a section of the Hebrew Bible which has become known by the Aramaic term as the Trei Asar ("Twelve") in traditional Jewish editions and "Books of the Minor Prophets" or the "Minor Prophets" in Christian editions.

In the Modern Hebrew Bible the writings of the minor prophets are counted as a single book, in Christian Bibles as twelve individual books.

The Septuagint has this proper order:
  1. Hosea
  2. Amos
  3. Micah
  4. Joel
  5. Obadiah
  6. Jonah
  7. Nahum
  8. Habakkuk
  9. Zephaniah
  10. Haggai
  11. Zechariah
  12. Malachi
The "Minor Prophets" are before, instead of after, the "Major Prophets".

The first extra-biblical evidence we have for the Twelve is the writings of Jesus ben Sirach (190 BC) where they are venerated as praiseworthy. (Sir. 49:12). Josephus speaks of the Twelve as part of the scriptural canon, and they were regarded as such in the Dead Sea Scrolls. By the Council of Jamnia in AD 90 the Twelve were not in dispute as canonical for Jews. The Twelve are cited and alluded to in the New Testament and were accepted as canonical by the early church. Marcion deleted them, along with the entire Old Testament, from his heretical canon.

Recent biblical scholarship has focused on reading the "Book of the Twelve" as a unity.

The term "minor" refers to the length of the books, not their importance.

A major prophet is a book in the Major Prophets section of the Christian Old Testament in the Bible. The term "major prophet" is typically a Christian term as the Jewish Hebrew Bible does not group these books together and does not include the deuterocanonical/apocryphal Book of Baruch. The closest analogous grouping in the modern Hebrew Bible is the "Prophets" or Nevi'im. The books of the major prophets in order of occurrence in the Christian Bible are:

  1. Isaiah
  2. Jeremiah
  3. Lamentations, also known as the Lamentations of Jeremiah (listed with the Ketuvim in the Tanakh)
  4. Baruch (deuterocanonical; may be placed before Lamentations.) This work is not incorporated into the Modern Talmudic-based Jewish Bible nor the newer Protestant Bibles.
  5. Ezekiel
  6. Daniel (listed with the Ketuvim in the Tanakh).
The term "major" refers to their length, not their importance.

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