Minor prophet
Minor prophets is a book of the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, so named because it contains twelve shorter prophetic works. In Christian Bibles the twelve are presented as individual books. The "Twelve" are listed below in order of their appearance in Hebrew and most Protestant and Catholic Christian Bibles:
  • Hosea
    Book of Hosea
    The Book of Hosea is one of the books of the Hebrew Bible. It stands first in order among what are known as the twelve Minor Prophets.-Background and Content:...

  • Joel
    Book of Joel
    The Book of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible. Joel is part of a group of twelve prophetic books known as the Minor Prophets or simply as The Twelve; the distinction 'minor' indicates the short length of the text in relation to the larger prophetic texts known as the "Major Prophets".-Content:After...

  • Amos
    Book of Amos
    The Book of Amos is a prophetic book of the Hebrew Bible, one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, was active c. 750 BCE during the reign of Jeroboam II, making the Book of Amos the first biblical prophetic book written. Amos lived in the kingdom of Judah...

  • Obadiah
    Book of Obadiah
    The canonical Book of Obadiah is an oracle concerning the divine judgment of Edom and the restoration of Israel. The text consists of a single chapter, divided into 21 verses, making it the shortest book in the Hebrew Bible....

  • Jonah
    Book of Jonah
    The Book of Jonah is a book in the Hebrew Bible. It tells the story of a Hebrew prophet named Jonah ben Amittai who is sent by God to prophesy the destruction of Nineveh but tries to escape the divine mission...

  • Micah
    Book of Micah
    The Book of Micah is one of fifteen prophetic books in the Hebrew bible/Old Testament, and the sixth of the twelve minor prophets. It records the sayings of Mikayahu, meaning "Who is like Yahweh?", an 8th century prophet from the village of Moresheth in Judah...

  • Nahum
    Book of Nahum
    The book of Nahum is the seventh book of the 12 minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible. It is attributed to the prophet Nahum, and was probably written in Jerusalem in the 8th century BC.-Background:...

  • Habakkuk
    Book of Habakkuk
    The Book of Habakkuk is the eighth book of the 12 minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible. It is attributed to the prophet Habakkuk, and was probably composed in the late 7th century BC. A copy of chapters 1 and 2 is included in the Habakkuk Commentary, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.Chapters 1-2...

  • Zephaniah
    Book of Zephaniah
    The superscription of the Book of Zephaniah attributes its authorship to “Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah son of Amariah son of Hezekiah, in the days of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah” . All that is known of Zephaniah comes from the text. The superscription of the book is lengthier than...

  • Haggai
    Book of Haggai
    The Book of Haggai is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Tanak, and has its place as the antepenultimate of the Minor Prophets or the "Book of the Twelve." It is a short book, consisting of only two chapters. The historical setting dates around 520 BCE before the Temple has been rebuilt...

  • Zechariah
    Book of Zechariah
    The Book of Zechariah is the penultimate book of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew and Christian Bible, attributed to the prophet Zechariah.-Historical context:...

  • Malachi
    Book of Malachi
    Malachi is a book of the Hebrew Bible, the last of the twelve minor prophets and the final book of the Neviim...

The Septuagint of the Eastern churches has the order: Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, the rest as above. It also puts the "Minor Prophets" before, instead of after, the "Major prophet
Major prophet
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...


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. 49:10). Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 speaks of the Twelve as part of the scriptural canon
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

, and they were regarded as such in the Dead Sea Scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

. By the Council of Jamnia
Council of Jamnia
The Council of Jamnia or Council of Yavne is a hypothetical late 1st-century council at which it is postulated the canon of the Hebrew Bible was finalized....

 in AD 90 the Twelve were not in dispute as canonical for Jews. The Twelve are cited and alluded to in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old 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. See Major Prophets for the longer books of prophecies in the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 and the Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...


Book of the Twelve

Within the "Book of the Twelve," the order was more fluid, as comparison of different ancient manuscripts indicates. The arrangement found in current Bibles follows one ancient tradition and is roughly chronological. First come those prophets dated to the early Assyrian period: Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah; Joel is undated, but it was possibly placed before Amos because parts of a verse near the end of Joel (3.16 [4.16 in Hebrew]) and one near the beginning of Amos (1.2) are identical. Also we can find in both Amos (4.9 and 7.1-3) and Joel a description of a plague of locusts. These are followed by prophets that are set in the later Assyrian period: Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. Last come those set in the Persian period: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. However it is important to note that chronology was not the only consideration, as "It seems that an emphatic focus on Jerusalem and Judah was [also] a main concern. For example, Obadiah is generally understood as reflecting the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE. and would therefore fit later in a purely chronological sequence.

Each of the twelve books plus three Major Prophets which also group together as Latter Prophets has its own literary and editorial history, which is often complicated, especially for the longer books, In general, the books include three types of materials:
  • Biographical materials about the prophet, in the third person. These make it clear that the collection and editing of the prophetic books was completed by persons other than the prophets themselves.
  • Autobiographical materials, in the first person. Some of these may go back to the prophet in question.
  • Oracles, or speeches, by the prophets. These are usually in poetic form, and draw on a wide variety of genres, including covenant lawsuit, oracle against the nations, judgment oracle, messenger speech, song, hymn, cal narrative, lament, law, proverb, symbolic gesture, prayer, wisdom saying, and vision.

Christian commemoration

The twelve minor prophets are collectively commemorated in the Calendar of saints
Calendar of Saints (Armenian Apostolic Church)
-January:* 1 Third Day of the Fast of the Nativity* 2 Fourth Day of the Fast of the Nativity* 3 Fifth Day of the Fast of the Nativity* 4 Sixth Day of the Fast of the Nativity* 5 Eve of the Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ...

 of the Armenian Apostolic Church
Armenian Apostolic Church
The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

 on July 31.

In the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, the twelve minor prophets are read in the Breviary
A breviary is a liturgical book of the Latin liturgical rites of the Catholic Church containing the public or canonical prayers, hymns, the Psalms, readings, and notations for everyday use, especially by bishops, priests, and deacons in the Divine Office...

 during the fourth and fifth weeks of November, which are the last two weeks of the liturgical year.

See also

  • Prophet
    In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

  • Major prophet
    Major prophet
    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...

  • Books of the Bible
    Books of the Bible
    The Books of the Bible are listed differently in the canons of Judaism and the Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Slavonic Orthodox, Georgian, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac and Ethiopian churches, although there is substantial overlap. A table comparing the canons of some of these traditions...

  • Biblical prophecy
  • List of Biblical prophets

Further reading

  • Achtemeier, Elizabeth R. & Murphy, Frederick J. The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. VII: Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature, Daniel, The Twelve Prophets. (Abingdon, 1996)
  • Cathcart, Kevin J. & Gordon, Robert P. The Targum of the Minor Prophets. The Aramaic Bible 14. (Liturgical Press, 1989)
  • Chisholm, Robert B. Interpreting the Minor Prophets. (Zondervan, 1990)
  • Feinberg, Charles L.
    Charles L. Feinberg
    Charles Lee Feinberg was an American Biblical scholar and professor of Semitics and Old Testament. He was an authority on the Jewish history, languages and customs of the Old Testament and Biblical prophecies....

     The Minor Prophets. (Moody, 1990)
  • Ferreiro, Alberto (ed). The Twelve Prophets. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. (Inter-Varsity Press, 2003)
  • Hill, Robert C. (tr). Theodoret of Cyrus: Commentary on the Prophets Vol 3: Commentary on the Twelve Prophets. (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2007)
  • Hill, Robert C. (tr). Theodore of Mopsuestia: Commentary on the Twelve Prophets. The Fathers of the Church. (Catholic University of America, 2004)
  • House, Paul R. The Unity of the Twelve. JSOT Supplement Series, 97. (Almond Press, 1990)
  • Jones, Barry Alan. The Formation of the Book of the Twelve: a Study in Text and Canon. SBL Dissertation Series 149. (Society of Biblical Literature, 1995)
  • Keil, Carl Friedrich. Keil on the Twelve Minor Prophets (1878) (Kessinger, 2008)
  • Longman, Tremper & Garland, David E. (eds). Daniel–Malachi. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Revised Edition) 8. (Zondervan, 2009)
  • McComiskey, Thomas Edward (ed). The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary. (Baker, 2009)
  • Navarre Bible, The: Minor Prophets. (Scepter & Four Courts, 2005)
  • Nogalski, James. Literary Precursors to the Book of the Twelve. Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Fur Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (Walter de Gruyter, 1993)
  • Nogalski, James D. & Sweeney, Marvin A. (eds). Reading and Hearing the Book of the Twelve. Symposium Series. (Society of Biblical Literature, 2000)
  • Petterson, Anthony R., ‘The Shape of the Davidic Hope across the Book of the Twelve’, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
    Journal for the Study of the Old Testament
    The Journal for the Study of the Old Testament is a peer-reviewed academic journal that publishes papers five times a year in the field of Biblical Studies. The journal's editors are John Jarick and Keith Whitelam...

    35 (2010), 225-246.
  • Phillips, John. Exploring the Minor Prophets. The John Phillips Commentary Series. (Kregel, 2002)
  • Redditt, Paul L. & Schart, Aaron. Thematic Threads in the Book of the Twelve. Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Fur Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft. (Walter de Gruyter, 2003)
  • Roberts, Matis (ed). Trei asar : The Twelve Prophets : a New Translation with a Commentary Anthologized from Talmudic, Midrashic, and Rabbinic Sources. (Mesorah, 1995- )
  • Rosenberg, A.J. (ed). The Twelve Prophets: Hebrew Text and English Translation. Soncino Books of the Bible. (Soncino, 2004)
  • Schart, Aaron. Die Entstehung des Zwölfprophetenbuchs. Neubearbeitungen von Amos im Rahmen schriftenübergreifender Redaktionsprozesse. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 260. (Walter de Gruyter, 1998)
  • Shepherd, Michael B. "The Twelve Prophets in the New Testament". (Peter Lang, 2011)
  • Slavitt, David R. (tr). The Book of the Twelve Prophets. (Oxford University Press, 1999)
  • Smith, James E. The Minor Prophets. Old Testament Survey. (College Press, 1994)
  • Stevenson, John. Preaching From The Minor Prophets To A Postmodern Congregation. (Redeemer, 2008)
  • Walton, John H. (ed). The Minor Prophets, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary. (Zondervan, 2009)
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