Studying OT Prophets

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Slide 1: Slide
School of the Prophets

This lesson contains 12 slides, with interactive quizzes and text slides.

time-iconLesson duration is: 30 min

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Slide 1 - Slide

The Law and the Prophets

Despite the fact that the Old Testament today in our English Bibles includes thirty-nine books, it was not so in the Hebrew Bible. The Jews grouped the Old Testament books into three categories: the Law (or Torah), the Prophets, and the Writings.

Slide 2 - Slide

The Law and the Prophets

The books of the Law, or the books of Moses, are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (also known as the “Pentateuch”). There are several Old Testament references (Josh 1:7–8; 23:6; 1 Kgs 2:3; 2 Kgs 14:6; 21:8; 23:25; Ezra 6:18; Neh 13:1; Dan 9:11; Mal 4:4) to the authority of the law of Moses. Since Moses was considered a messenger of God, what he wrote down was accepted as divine revelation.

Slide 3 - Slide

The Law and the Prophets
The second division of Old Testament books is the Prophets. If you have ever read the New Testament, you no doubt recall hearing the phrase, “the Law and the Prophets” (see, e.g., Matt 5:17; 7:12; 22:40; John 1:45; Acts 13:15; 24:14; Rom 3:21). 

Similar to the Law, or Torah, the words of those who were God’s prophets, 
or messengers were accepted as revelation from God. 

The division called "Prophets" is made up of the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and the Twelve. Originally, 1 and 2 Samuel were combined into a single book, and so also were 1 and 2 Kings. In addition, “the Twelve” was a collection of the twelve
Minor Prophets into a single book.

Slide 4 - Slide

The Law and the Prophets
The final of the three divisions of the Hebrew Bible is known as the Writings. This section is made up of thirteen books: Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles. Like Samuel and Kings, Ezra and Nehemiah were combined into one book, and so also were 1 and 2 Chronicles. 

As already mentioned, the Old Testament was frequently referred to in the New Testament as the “Law and the Prophets.” But there is one occasion in which Jesus referred to the Old Testament as “the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). 
In this instance, the Writings are referred to by their largest book: Psalms.

Slide 5 - Slide

Understanding the Prophets

In the Hebrew canon, the Prophets are divided into
  1. Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings).
  2. Latter Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve, or Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi).

 However, the prophetic books of the OT are grouped and studied by students of the Bible in several other ways. We will explore them now.

Slide 6 - Slide

Major and Minor Prophets

It is likely that you have heard the terms “Major” and “Minor” Prophets. These are unfortunate ways to describe the two collections of prophetic books in the Old Testament. The words “Major” and “Minor” might lead you to think that some prophetic books are more 
important than others. 

But the reality is that these terms are a way of dividing the longer prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel) from the shorter prophetic books (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). 

Slide 7 - Slide

Northern and Southern Kingdom Prophets

Southern Kingdom: Babylonian Captivity
  1. Judah.
  2. Made up of the tribes of Benjamin, Judah, and Levi.
  3. After 2 Kings but before Ezra in the bible.
  4. Modern-day Israel.
  5. Where we get the term "Jew" from Judah/Jew.
  6. Prophets Writings: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Northern Kingdom: Assyrian Captivity
  1. Israel.
  2. Made up of the other 10 tribes. (Referred to as the "Lost Tribes of Israel")
  3. They were never heard of again after their exile.
  4. Prophetic Writing: Amos and Hosea (However, Isaiah and Malachi also warned the NK of their impending destruction)
    This categorization leaves out the fact that Elijah and Elisha also ministered to the Northern Kingdom.

 (After the death of King Solomon, the split of the kingdom, and based on books written by prophets)

Slide 8 - Slide

Prophetic Timeline
The prophets may best be understood and studied based on their historical orientation and their relation to the seventy-year exile of the Southern Kingdom in Babylon, which preceded the death of King Solomon.

 We refer to the historic orientation of prophetic writings as the Prophetic Timeline and categorize the prophetic books based on their position along this timeline:
Pre-Exilic, Exilic, and Post-Exilic.
  • Pre-Exilic: those who warned of the coming exile (pre-exilic prophets).
  • Exilic: those whose ministry was primarily during the exile (exilic prophets).
  • Post-Exilic: those whose ministry was primarily after the exile (post-exilic prophets). 

Slide 9 - Slide

Pre-exilic. Exilic. Post-exilic.

  • Pre-exilic prophetic books include- Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. 
  • Exilic prophetic books include- Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. 
  • Post-exilic prophetic books include- Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

    It is also important to note that some prophetic books cover every phase within the timeline, like the prophet Isaiah. 

Slide 10 - Slide

For the most part, the prophetic books are best seen historically and in relation to the seventy-year exile of the southern kingdom in Babylon (after 2 Kings but before Ezra). In this strategy the books are categorized as:
Major and Minor Prophets
The Law and the Prophets
The Pentateuch
Pre-exilic, Exilic, and Post-exilic

Slide 11 - Quiz

Minor prophets had a message that was of lesser value than that of the Major prophets.

Slide 12 - Open question