I am trying to keep to my so-called New Year resolution to read and study the Minor Prophets. It will not be easy since I am far from being “prophetically inclined” in the study of Scripture.
So to start it off, let’s see what this collection of twelve books called the Minor Prophets is?
The title apparently originated in Augustine's time, in the late 4th century A.D. They are called the “minor” prophets not because they are less important. They are called that by virtue of the length of the book - they are shorter than the four longer, hence major, prophetical books, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.
I don't think many of us really understood who and what prophets are. If you check a dictionary, you will find its definition in the lines of “an authoritative person who divines the future” but this is not entirely who they were. Evidence from the text in the bible show that they gave:
(1) warning of impending judgment because of Israel's sinfulness,
(2) descriptions of sin,
(3) descriptions of coming judgment,
(4) call for repentance, and
(5) promise of future deliverance.
In our English bible, the Minor Prophets are arranged mainly by length:
Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
But if taken chronologically, they most probably will take this sequence (approximate dates in parentheses:
Pre-Exilic (to Nineveh)
Pre-Exilic (to Israel)
Amos (765-750), Hosea (755-715)
Pre-Exilic (to Judah)
Obadiah (840), Joel (835-796), Micah (740-690), Nahum (630-612), Zephaniah (625), Habakkuk (606-604)
Haggai (520), Zechariah (515), Malachi (430)
source: Bible.org, The Minor Prophets