Interpreting the Book of the Twelve: Unity or Anthology?

The Minor Prophets is a collection of twelve prophetic books, traditionally seen as a unity. In this paper, the author evaluates the interpretive process of each approach (anthology vs. unity) and compares the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. There are numerous works on the individual books of the Twelve. Of course, this is the nature of commentaries and has been and still is a viable approach. In addition to these, many studies on the unity of the Twelve over the past thirty years approach the Twelve as a unity (House, Unity of the Twelve, 1990; Stovell, The Book of the Twelve, 2022). These approaches are based on the fact that the Twelve contains structural and thematic elements that tie the various books together. For example, the Twelve contains recurring themes, such as exile, redemption, and the Day of the Lord. Furthermore, a third line of inquiry asserts that the Twelve is an anthology, a collection of loosely related works (Beck, Das Dodekapropheton als Anthologie, 2006; Wenzel, ed. The Book of the Twelve: An Anthology of Prophetic Books or the Result of Complex Redactional Processes?, 2018; Hadjiev, A Prophetic Anthology Rather than a Book of the Twelve, 2021). This third line of inquiry offers an alternative to interpretations that see the Twelve as a unified literary work.

Each approach significantly impacts the Twelve’s interpretation. For instance, if the Twelve is seen as an anthology, the authorial intention for each book is less relevant than in individual book studies. The editorial process of collecting the books becomes more significant. If, however, the Twelve is a unity, the final form becomes even more significant to the interpretive process. By comparing the impacts of each approach on the interpretive process, this paper will provide insight into the relative strengths and weaknesses of each. This, in turn, will help determine the impact of reading the Twelve as a unity or anthology. It will also provide an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each approach and allow for a more comprehensive interpretation of the text.

3 thoughts on “Interpreting the Book of the Twelve: Unity or Anthology?”

  1. Sounds like he’s proposing to
    Sounds like he’s proposing to do an overview, but this issue has been and is being addressed at ETS. Is there anything new here? Is a 25-30 minute talk really capable of doing what he’s proposing?

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