Monday, January 15, 2007
Major and Minor Leagues
While you might first think of baseball when you hear the terms major and minor they mean something quite different in Bible-speak. These terms are used to denote a group of books of the Bible that share the same charactertistic of prophecy.
The English word “prophet” comes from the Greek word phrophetes which means to speak on behalf of someone else. Prophets are generally thought of as persons who foretell the future, speak with the dead, or read minds. Biblical prophets are very different, however, since they were chosen by God to speak on His behalf. A Biblical prophet’s primary mission was to teach the people about the message God was sending.
In Bible-speak we refer to the prophets as major and minor. The terms do not refer to the importance of the prophet or the importance of the message they were delivering since all messages from God are important. The terms major and minor refer to the length of the text under each prophet’s name. Therefore, since the text is longer for Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel we refer to them as the major prophets. Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are considered to be the twelve minor prophets.
Some sources refer to the book of Lamentations (attributed to Jeremiah) as a prophetic book along with Baruch, a deuterocanonical/apocryphal book. Baruch was one of Jeremiah’s scribes.
The painting pictured with this post is by the artist Giovanni Tiepolo. This is a fresco found at the Palazzo Patriarcale, Udine. It depicts Isaiah at the moment when he is called to prophecy. Notice the angel is holding a piece of burning coal with tongs. The coal will be held to Isaiah’s lips in order to forgive his sins. You can see more of his works and learn more about Tiepolo here.