Volume 10 - Issue 1

A guide to the study of the prophets

By Paul E. Copeland

This essay is intended as a ‘guide’ for those commencing, or perhaps revisiting, the study of the Old Testament prophets. It is not an introduction to the prophetic literature, nor a survey of the phenomena associated with the prophets and their activity. Rather, this essay is an attempt to acquaint the student with those trends and concepts which pervade contemporary study of the prophets and which the student will encounter both in the lecture hall and in the literature. It is hoped that the student will thus be enabled to follow scholarly discussion of the prophets with greater ease and critical insight.

The prophetic corpus is one of the most extensive portions of the Old Testament. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the Twelve (‘minor prophets’) comprise nearly one fourth of the Old Testament canon. However, in the Hebrew Bible these are called ‘Latter Prophets’ while the historical books from Joshua through Kings are styled ‘Former Prophets’. Thus, almost one half of the Old Testament is regarded as ‘prophetic’ in some sense. Many of the psalms are also clearly the work of prophets. Moreover, Moses is set forth in Deuteronomy 18:15 as the archetypal prophet of Israel, indicating that the study of the prophets must embrace the greater portion of the Old Testament Scriptures.

Learned discussion of the prophets is embodied in a literature that is correspondingly vast, indeed bewilderingly so!1 There are few works (especially in English) that set out to be comprehensive, given the scope of the subject-matter. Instead, one is confronted with numerous and diverse lines of investigation, written up in journals, Festschriften, monographs, commentaries, and books treating specific themes. Yet one must make a beginning and seek some order in the diversity. I would suggest that modern study of the prophets may be usefully approached through three closely related categories: (1) criticism of the prophetic literature, (2) description of the prophetic ministry, and (3) exposition of the prophetic message. The first is obviously concerned with the exegesis of the texts, the second with prophecy as a phenomenon or institution in Israel. The third deals with what might be called the ‘theology’ of the prophets. In the actual course of study, the student will quickly realize that conclusions in any one of these areas will depend on insights from the other two.

  1. Criticism of the prophetic literature

The greater part of the literature on the prophets is devoted to issues of literary criticism. Klaus Koch estimates that ‘publications dealing with points of literary criticism must outnumber those investigating a prophet’s ideas by about ten to one’.2 This apparent preoccupation is not surprising, though, since the precise relationship of the canonical form of the prophetic literature (i.e., the form in which we have it in the Bible) to the original preaching of the prophets is not entirely clear. The oracles were obviously collected and edited—by whom, we do not know. The consensus of critical scholarship is that the canonical form of the prophetic books does not derive from the prophets, but from the tradents who collected and passed on the oracles, and that these oracles were also supplemented and expanded in the course of transmission.3 Hence, literary criticism is not pursued out of indifference to the prophets’ ideas, but precisely because it is seen as an essential step towards elucidating their ideas. One must know as accurately as possible what the prophets said, and something of the context in which they said it, before their message may be confidently expounded. It is the aim of literary criticism to isolate individual oracles within the larger collections, to reconstruct original literary unities from the text, and to differentiate, so far as possible, the original sayings of the prophets from alleged secondary accretions. This work is foundational to the study of the prophetic message and ministry. Hence, it has become the major area of scholarly debate.

Of course, not all scholars share the generally optimistic aims of literary criticism. Critical scholarship is agreed that the process of transmission has reshaped the original prophetic message to a greater or lesser degree. However, not all critics agree that the original words may be recovered from the texts. Some have argued that the message of the prophets was handed down by means of a primarily oral, rather than written, tradition. On this view, the canonical form represents the written fixation of the oral tradition, behind which tradition one recognizes the preaching of the prophets. However, one can only hope to identify the principal themes of the preaching, not the prophets’ actual words.4 On the other hand, some hold that literary criticism reveals such an extensive reworking of written traditions that one must realistically abandon the attempt to discover the prophets’ very words.5 In the main, though, distinguishing the words of the prophets from secondary material within the tradition is still regarded as an important and valid objective.6

The literary-critical attempt to differentiate primary and secondary material in the prophetic traditions is foundational to the method known as redaction criticism. A redactor is simply one who revises and edits literary words. Hence, redaction criticism seeks to identify editorial stages in the collection and transmission of a prophetic corpus.7 However, this process of editing is not theologically ‘neutral’. Combining oracles into a series gives them a new context. Arranging oracles into a framework may suggest an overarching theme. James M. Ward, for example, points out that the oracles in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are roughly organized in this sequence: (1) oracles of judgment against Judah and Jerusalem, (2) oracles of judgment against foreign nations, and (3) promises of restoration to Israel and Judah.8 This arrangement clearly suggests an interpretation of the prophetic ministry. Likewise, the juxtaposition of secondary materials places primary materials in a new context and affects their interpretation accordingly. Hence, redaction criticism is concerned not only to identify editorial stages, but seeks to characterize the perspective of each stage.

Redaction criticism per se is not a new development in literary criticism. Critics have long asserted the presence of later, editorial expansions in the prophetic collections. What is new, though, is the estimation of the worth of this secondary material in the eyes of Old Testament scholars. Earlier criticism tended to identify secondary materials and then dismiss them as of secondary importance, laying great stress on the ipsissima verba as the truly significant data for research. While not abandoning the quest for the prophets’ very words, contemporary criticism, however, tends to regard the secondary material as a continuation of the traditions inaugurated by the original prophets. In fact, the secondary expansions are said to actualize the original message (i.e., to interpret and reapply it to new situations in an equally prophetic way).9 Hence, the canonical form of a prophetic book comes to be regarded as the full flowering of a continuous tradition, not as a shell which must be stripped away to get at the true kernel of the message. The original words are important, but the canonical form also proclaims a message in its own right which deserves to be heard and studied. Not surprisingly, many scholars prefer to use the term canonical criticism to describe this relatively new attitude toward the application of redaction criticism. Although conservative students might have reservations about the need sharply to differentiate stages in the growth of the traditions, the emphasis on the value of the canonical form of the tradition ought to be welcomed and pursued as an area of common interest.

The interpretative character which modern criticism attributes to so-called secondary material is worthy of note. Klaus Koch states that ‘according to this (i.e. prophetic) tradition, it was a sacred duty to link the transmission of the prophets’ words with explanations and topical allusions designed to give them contemporary significance’.10 Robert Coote argues that the process of interpretation preserved the original messages and that, in fact, ‘our scriptures came into being in the process of interpretation’.11 R. E. Clements claims that the secondary elements are a kind of early exegesis of prophetic sayings and are ‘the strongest guidelines we have to what those sayings really meant’.12

Conservative students should find this perspective on the nature of the prophetic literature both stimulating and challenging. Conservative scholarship could justly give more attention to the whole process by which the prophetic books were collected and transmitted. The concept that the prophetic books embody their own commentary is a fascinating one which deserves careful study, particularly by those interested in the history of exegesis. However, there are serious difficulties to be overcome in asserting the interpretative or exegetical character of alleged secondary elements.

First, there are no textual indicators to mark out the material as commentary. In an interpretative document like the Qumran Habakkuk Commentary, for example, exposition is clearly introduced by phrases such as ‘the interpretation concerns …’, etc. There are few avenues of independent verification by which to test the theory, such as extensive manuscript variation that might show a different treatment of secondary, interpretative elements. Coote suggests the analogy of Carl Sagan’s expansive translation of I. S. Shklovskii’s Intelligent Life in the Universe to illustrate the method of redactional interpretation.13 But though it aptly illustrates the theory, the analogy simply highlights the subjective character of the model, since the prophets lack precisely the sort of indicators which Sagan uses to distinguish his commentary from the text.

Secondly, one may justly ask about the sense in which the secondary elements actually interpret or exegete the original material, since scholars usually assert a tension in the perspectives of the editorial stages. For example, the original Amos is regarded as a prophet of unconditional doom.14 Hence conditional sayings which hold out the possibility of forgiveness to the repentant are held to be secondary. Yet, these secondary elements were apparently placed beside the original proclamations, creating a new context and re-interpreting them. In point of fact, they mitigate the absolute character of the original doom sayings, supposedly to make them relevant to people living after the fall of Samaria. Yet, if this was the reinterpretation which took place, it was essentially a false interpretation—a misinterpretation. Unconditional sayings are held to be conditional, contrary to the original intention of the prophet.

A similar observation could be made regarding R. E. Clements’ masterfully presented case for a Deuteronomic redaction of the prophets. Clements argues, for example, that the original preaching of Amos and Hosea was not affected by a covenant tradition in Israel. Hence, the infrequently appearing covenantal language in these prophets is held to reflect a Deuteronomic interpretation of the prophetic indictments.15 Now if these secondary Deuteronomic terms are actually significant indications of the geniuine meaning, then it follows that the Deuteronomists understood the words of Hosea and Amos to refer to violations of the covenant. But since, according to Clements, these prophets did not have a covenant theology as such, the Deuteronomists were mistaken in their interpretation. Their exegesis was defective.

These observations, of course, prove nothing about the method of redaction criticism. They do show, though, that the characterization of secondary materials as interpretative is open to question. It would appear to be more accurate to say that the redaction model presents stages of eisgesis and revision, rather than of exegesis and reinterpretation in the growth of the prophetic traditions. It is also difficult to see how critics can seriously value the secondary material as guidelines to the original meaning of prophetic sayings when (1) they have already decided on the meaning using other considerations and (2) when they consistently reject the meaning suggested by the alleged secondary materials, e.g. that Amos could have held out hope or that eighth century prophets knew a covenant tradition.

Literary criticism in the prophets, and elsewhere, proceeds on the basis of a number of considerations. A characteristic style, or a preference for a particular vocabulary help to identify redactional stages. Differences of historical or theological perspective are also put forward as indicators of different strata in the texts. For purposes of isolating or reconstructing original oracles from larger collections, the discipline of form criticism is seen as especially important. Form criticism seeks to classify prophetic oracles according to their genre, or Gattung. Two of the most basic prophetic genres are the ‘threat’ and ‘reproach’ (Gunkel), also known as the ‘announcement of judgment’ and ‘accusation’ (Westermann). Each form has characteristic conceptual, linguistic, and life-setting (Sitz im Leben) features.16 A knowledge of these forms may enable one to delimit or reconstruct individual oracles and, at the same time, to perceive extraneous material. But, though form criticism has literary-critical applications, it is normally pursued in order to move beyond literary criticism to insights into the nature of the prophetic ministry.

  1. Description of the prophetic ministry

One of the most challenging aspects of the study of the prophets has been the attempt to construct a unified picture of the phenomenon of prophetism. In many ways the prophets are enigmatic figures. They have an independent air about them, yet nonetheless stand in a close relationship to the institutions of Israelite society. It is virtually an axiom of Old Testament scholarship that the prophets were the major creative force in the development of Israel’s faith, and yet it is also recognized that they were indebted to earlier, well-established traditions. Indeed, debate about the relationship of the prophets to Israel’s religious institutions and the traditions associated with them has dominated prophetic study for the past century.

The attempt to describe the means by which a prophet receives a word from God, and the context in which he communicates that message to others is complicated by the nature of the biblical sources. Except for Isaiah and Jonah, there is virtually no mention of the literary prophets in the historical books of the Old Testament. Our knowledge of their personalities and activities is confined to the biographical material in the collections and to contextual indications within the oracles. Yet, in the case of Jeremiah, such material is extensive. Incidents from the lives of Hosea and Amos also provide valuable insights into the range of prophetic experiences and tasks. Above all, the call narratives in Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are regarded as crucial points of reference for understanding their self-perception as prophets, and often their message as well. Still, the silence of the historical books respecting so many of the writing prophets means that much of our knowledge of their work must be reconstructed indirectly.

The historical books are aptly named ‘Former Prophets’, for they convey a striking impression of both the power, frustration, and faith which characterized these men of God. The consensus of scholarship today seems to be that the literary prophets are of the same basic mould as the pre-literary prophets. Hence, in a general way, the activities of men like Nathan and Gad, or Elijah and Elisha may provide a model for understanding the roles of later prophets. Klaus Westermann argues that the prophetic speeches recorded in the ‘Former Prophets’ evince, in their brevity, the original form of prophetic discourse, which form may then be observed in developed ways in the ‘Latter Prophets’.17 The historical books also illustrate early developments in prophetism, reflected in the terminological shift from ‘seer’ to ‘prophet’ (nabi),18 which seems to correspond in some way to the increasing involvement of these men in affairs of kingship. In general, scholarship distinguishes the pre-literary prophets from their literary successors on the basis of their message, not a characteristic activity or psychological state.19

The conviction that the ‘Former Prophets’ evidence a thorough Deuteronomic editing imposes some restraint on the critical use of these books as sources of information about the prophets. On this view, the description of prophetic speech and activity found therein may not be authentic, but merely the way the Deuteronomic editor imagined, or felt it ought to be. But, while critical scholarship may attempt to identify particular narratives, or aspects thereof, as reflections of the views of later eras,20 the picture of prophetic activity on the whole is regarded as trustworthy.

The disciplines of comparative religion, psychology, and sociology have also been brought to bear on the prophetic phenomenon. Increasing interest is being generated by references to prophecy, or at least oracular statements, in diverse ancient Near Eastern texts. This type of activity was apparently so wide-spread that Koch ventures to speak of prophecy as an international movement.21 The proposition that the prophets received their revelations in a state of ecstasy has been extensively debated, ever since Gunkel suggested that the earliest form of prophetic speech was ecstatic.22 Lindblom argues that the ‘prophetic type’ (e.g.ecstatic) is a universal religious phenomenon, yet the attempt to fit all Israelite prophecy into this mould has not been widely accepted.23 More recently, David L. Petersen has argued that the traditional debate about the prophets proceeds on the false assumption that an independent spirit (charisma) and institutional ties (office) are polar extremes. He instead tries to move away from these categories, presenting a helpful analysis of the contextual dimension of prophetic activity by means of sociological role theory.24

All of these disciplines help to construct a fuller picture of the prophetic ministry by showing points of contact with similar phenomena, both in the age of the prophets and throughout history. However, it is fair to say that such comparative studies do not provide a basis for assessing the theological uniqueness and worth of Old Testament prophecy.25 It is precisely because this issue is felt to be at stake that the more traditional argument about independence versus institution will continue.

It was the view of early critics that the prophets stood in independent opposition to the institution of priesthood and cult. This view, however, was strongly challenged by form criticism with its interest in the life-setting of prophetic oracles. Drawing attention to oracular passages like 2 Chronicles 20:14–17 or Psalm 60:6–8, form critics argued that the basic types of prophetic speech, such as the threat or promise, were best understood when one supposed that the prophet spoke as a functionary of the cult. S. Mowinckel, for example, posited a Babylonian-type new year festival in Israel celebrating the enthronement of Yahweh and the subduing of the cosmic forces of chaos. The prophets were said to function as divine spokesmen in this cult-drama.26 Later, others argued on the basis of parallels between prophetic speech and ancient Near Eastern treaty forms that the prophets were connected with a covenant renewal ceremony in which they functioned as mediators of divine law.27 Such form-critical conclusions have exerted a profound influence on the last quarter century of biblical scholarship.

These conclusions, though, have not gone unchallenged. It has been correctly pointed out that forms do not necessarily point to the Sitz im Leben of the one using it. Forms may be taken over into new contexts and employed for rhetorical purposes. The degree to which Israel and Judah were influenced by Babylonian festivals or Hittite suzerainty covenants has been vigorously debated. Characteristic turns of speech have been explained apart from an appeal to dependence on specific genres. In recent years, even attempts to relate prophetic genres to the prophet’s concept of his task have been strongly challenged. For example, Westermann’s concept of the ‘prophetic judgment speech’ has been criticized on the grounds that it posits a legal background in which the prophet sees himself functioning as an advocate of Jahweh, a legal background which some feel cannot be demonstrated.28 But, while conclusions about the life-setting of the oracles and its implications for the nature of the prophetic ministry are put forward with greater reserve today, the fact remains that clear links have been established between the prophets and institutional religion.29 Recognizing the debt of the prophets to these institutions is now seen as crucial to a proper understanding of the prophetic message.

  1. Exposition of the prophetic message

The interpretation of the prophets is affected not only by one’s views of the state of the text and the nature of prophetic activity, but also by the theological and philosophical presuppositions of scholars themselves. This diversity of presuppositions becomes especially clear when discussion turns to the nature of the revelation conveyed through the prophetic word. Here, views about the possibility of genuine communication between God and man, or even the existence of a transcendent God who can communicate at all come quickly to the fore. These presuppositions need to be understood in order to know the sense in which a given writer regards the prophetic word as a word of God.

Form criticism claims to find a distinction in the texts between the word of God and the word of the prophet. The revelation from God is said to consist of the essential threat or promise. The prophet reflected on this revelation and formulated his own explanation of why God had purposed to do this or that. These prophetic reflections appear in the form of reproaches or encouragements which make God’s threats or promises more intelligible, urgent, etc., to the people, but they are not to be confused with the word of God itself, with a ‘Thus says Yahweh …’. For example, in Amos 7:16–17, form criticism would identify v. 16 as a reproach, a statement of the reason for punishment, formulated by Amos. The threat, or announcement of punishment in v. 17, however, is held to be the essential word of God. It must be stressed that this is the form-critical judgment based on the assumption, drawn largely from the historical books, that the essential prophetic word was a threat or a promise (e.g. 1 Ki. 17:1; 2 Ki. 20:1, 5–6). It is a weakness of the theory that so few passages in the literary prophets approximate to the ideal form. Moreover, one should not think that since a scholar identifies a text as having the form of a message from God, that he therefore regards it as a message from God in truth.

Others, however, hold that the revelatory experience was a totally ineffable event. The prophetic word in some way grows out of the event with genuine power and conviction, but the experience itself lies beyond articulation.30 It is a question whether or not the prophetic word corresponds to all the essence of the revelation, but since the experience is ultimately non-rational, the question itself is inappropriate. The fact that God has ‘spoken’ is an encouragement to faith, but the content of the prophetic word is purely human in origin. It has no intrinsic authority, except in so far as it reflects or conforms to the authority of human reason.31 Koch seems to regard prophetic language about God as referring essentially to historical processes. Hence, no real systematic theology of the prophets is possible, at least in a metaphysical sense, because their concept of God was undergoing continual modification with each new turn of events.32

It is precisely at this point that conservative students will find their keenest tensions with some aspects of critical scholarship respecting the prophets. The Old Testament Scriptures strongly suggest that God communicated to men in such a way that the concepts of ‘speaking’ and ‘hearing’ are true approximations of what happened.33 Though we may say with Calvin that God ‘lisps’ to us to illustrate the great gap bridged in the process of revelation,34 we have clear biblical grounds for affirming that this gap has been genuinely (though not exhaustively) bridged. The greatest issue at stake in prophetic studies is not ‘what did God say through the prophets?,’ but ‘What does it mean for a prophet to claim that God had spoken to him at all?’

Discussion of the theology of the prophets requires a return to the question of independence versus institution. While most scholars would recognize that the prophets inherited traditional ideas, some stress the dominance of these ideas in the formation of the message. Gerhard von Rad, for example, developed the very influential thesis that Isaiah’s preaching was deeply dependent on a tradition about Jahweh’s defeat of the nations at Mount Zion—a tradition held to go back to a pre-Israelite cult-myth about the victory of the high god over the waters of chaos.35 Hence, explaining the prophetic message becomes a matter of tracing out the traditional themes which the prophet inherits, and then reapplies, revises, or expands in the light of his own circumstances. This study, known as tradition criticism, thus seeks to find a unifying theme to the preaching in well-established ideas long associated with important cult centres.

This approach to the message, however, tends to be unacceptable to those who wish to emphasize the creativity and originality of the prophets. Thus, while the presence of traditional ideas may be recognized, and even a close connection with the cult, the prophets are seen as either critical of old traditions, or independent in their handling of these traditions. The hypothetical character of the germinal traditions, as well as the difficulty of relating stages in the development of the traditions to the historical careers of the prophets, have also been pointed out.36

All types of scholarship agree that the prophetic message concerns the future. However, critical scholarship tends to limit this futuristic concern to the prophets’ foreseeable future. Often, this tendency is motivated by naturalistic presuppositions which exclude the possibility of divine revelation respecting the future. On this view, prophets ‘predicted’ the future on the basis of their exceptional insight into the signs of the times. On the other hand, this tendency also arises from an interest in the social comment of the prophets, joined to the conviction that the prophets primarily addressed the future of immediate concern to their hearers, and this is a perspective which must be appreciated. The prophets certainly did speak of the distant future, as was recognized by David in 2 Samuel 7:19. Likewise, Isaiah told Hezekiah of the coming Babylonian captivity, an event 100 years in the future. However, it is worth noting that Hezekiah’s response (2 Ki. 20:19) was not one of vexation for the future of the nation, but gratification that his own days would be undisturbed. No such ambivalence is possible when Amos proclaims the downfall of Samaria, when Isaiah encourages Ahaz to look for God’s deliverance from the Syro-Ephraimite coalition, or when Jeremiah intimates the impending success of the Babylonian siege!

Of special importance to our understanding of predictive prophecy are the messianic prophecies. Isaiah 7 is illusrative of the interpretative challenge presented by these texts. Here, the promise of Immanuel appears as the ground of hope in the face of the Syro-Ephraimite threat. The prophecy clearly suggests that a child born in the days of Ahaz would be a sign of God’s presence with his people. Yet, while the birth of one like Hezekiah might indeed function as such a sign and thus constitute a fulfilment of the prophecy, the New Testament enables us to see that such a prophecy is capable of a more exhaustive fulfilment in the birth of one who is truly all that ‘Immanuel’ signifies (Mt. 1:22–23). In dealing with such texts one does well to remember the words of Peter (1 Pet. 1:10–11), who indicates that the prophets themselves did not thoroughly understand how these prophecies were to be fulfilled. Hence, it seems a sound principle to see those prophecies which find their ultimate fulfilment in Christ as nonetheless relating to the hopes of the prophets for the Davidic line in their own day.

It is generally recognized that predictions of coming disaster are related by the prophets to particular social or political evils which are bringing on the judgment. Those who stress the dependence of the prophets on tradition, particularly covenant tradition, see this message as based on an appeal to authority,37 while those who stress the creativity of the prophets in things ethical see it as a direct appeal to the conscience, which the prophets, after discovering it for themselves, were seeking to awaken in their hearers.38 Conservatives would not wish to draw a sharp distinction between an appeal to authority and an appeal to the conscience, as if the authority of law could not serve as a basis for stirring up the conscience. Nor is it true that dependence on a tradition, particularly a legal one, inhibits creativity. Our Lord’s own ethical teaching, e.g. the Sermon on the Mount, is firmly grounded in the tradition of Mosaic law, and yet expounds and applies that tradition to the conscience in a powerful and highly creative way, not unlike the Old Testament prophets!

At present, however, the classical critical canon that the prophets discovered the conscience (and thus were the precursors of ‘Mosaic’ law) still predominates Old Testament scholarship, having received an enthusiastic new defence from the discipline of redaction criticism. However, as Koch observes, a satisfactory explanation of why or how the prophets should have developed this keen ethical sensitivity has yet to be formulated.39 In contrast to such a serious ‘Achilles heel’, one may observe that it is not uncommon among sinful men to witness large-scale departures from ethical standards of previous generations. Hence, the interpretation of the prophetic ministry suggested by the canonical form of the Old Testament—that the prophets summoned a rebellious people back to the standard of Mosaic law in the power of the Spirit of God—is still worthy of a thoughtful defence by biblical scholars.

1 For a sense of the breadth of the literature see G. Fohrer, ‘Zehn Jahre Literatur zur alt. Prophetie’, Theologische Rundschau NF 28 (1962), pp. 1–75, 234–97, 301–74; James Limburg, ‘The Prophets in Recent Study: 1967–1977’, Interpretation 32 (January 1978), pp. 56–68; R. L. Alden, ‘Study of the Prophets since World War II’ in J. Barton Payne (ed.), New Perspectives on the Old Testament (Waco, Tex.: Word, 1970), pp. 131–145.

2 Klaus Koch, The Prophets, 2 vols., trans. Margaret Kohl (London: SCM, 1982–83), vol. 2, p. 189.

3 J. Scharbert, ‘Die Prophetische Literatur: Der Stand der Forschung’, in H. Cazelles (ed.), De Mari a Qumran(Gembloux: J. Duculot, 1969), p. 59.

4 Ibid., pp. 59–60.

5 See, e.g., Robert Carroll, From Chaos to Covenant (London: SCM, 1981).

6 William McKane, ‘Prophecy and the Prophetic Literature’, in G. W. Anderson (ed.), Tradition and Interpretation (Oxford: OUP, 1979), p. 186.

7 See the very helpful explanations of redaction criticism in Robert Coote, Amos Among the Prophets(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), pp. 2–6; R. E. Clements, Prophecy and Tradition (Oxford: Blackwell, 1975), p. 6.

8 James M. Ward, The Prophets (Nashville: Abingdon, 1982), p. 27.

9 Coote, p. 3.

10 Koch, vol. 2, p. 189.

11 Coote, p. 4.

12 Clements, p. 7.

13 Coote, p. 6.

14 Cp. Coote, p. 19; Koch, vol. 1, pp. 36ff.

15 Clements, pp. 8–27.

16 See the very useful survey of the development of form criticism by John H. Hayes, ‘The History of the Form-Critical Study of Prophecy’, in G. MacRae (ed.), Society of Biblical Literature 1973 Seminar Papers, vol. 1, (Cambridge, Mass.: SBL, 1973), pp. 60–99.

17 Robert R. Wilson, ‘Form-Critical Investigation of the Prophetic Literature: The Present Situation’, in G. MacRae, op. cit., pp. 104–105.

18 1 Sam. 9:9.

19 McKane, p. 165.

20 See, e.g., R. E. Clements, Isaiah and the Deliverance of Jerusalem (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1980), pp. 52ff.

21 Koch, vol. 1, p. 12.

22 Cp. Hayes, p. 64; see also, G. Hölscher, Die Profeten: Untersuchungen zur Religionsgeschichte Israels(Leipzig: J. Heinrichs, 1914); J. Lindblom, Prophecy in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Blackwell, 1962); A. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper & Row, 1962).

23 Lindblom, pp. 1–46.

24 David L. Petersen, The Roles of Israel’s Prophets (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1981), pp. 9–15.

25 Cp. McKane, p. 167.

26 Hayes, pp. 76–79; Koch, vol. 1, p. 24.

27 See, e.g., G. E. Wright, ‘The Lawsuit of God: A Form-Critical Study of Deuteronomy 32’, in B. W. Anderson and W. Harrelson (eds.), Israel’s Prophetic Heritage (London: SCM, 1962), pp. 26ff.

28 Wilson, p. 118.

29 See Aubrey R. Johnson, The Cultic Prophet and Israel’s Psalmody (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1979); Robert R. Wilson, Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980.

30 McKane, p. 168.

31 Cp. Ward, pp. 15–20.

32 Koch, vol. 1, pp. 13, 14.

33 Cp. Nu. 12:6; 1 Sa. 3:4–14, etc.

34 See Calvin’s sermon on Dt. 5:22 in G. Baum, E. Cunitz, and E. Reuss (eds.), Corpus Reformatum Ioannis Calvini: Opera Quae Supersunt Omnia (Brunswick: C. A. Schwetschke and Sons, 1883), vol. 27, p. 387.

35 Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology, 2 vols., trans. D. M. G. Stalker, vol. 2, The Theology of Israel’s Prophetic Traditions (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1965), pp. 155–169.

36 Clements, Isaiah and the Deliverance of Jerusalem, pp. 72ff.

37 Richard Victor Bergren, The Prophets and the Law (Cincinatti: Hebrew Union College, 1974), pp. 80–150, 204–220.

38 Koch, vol. 2, p. 190.

39 Ibid., vol. 2, p. 193.

Paul E. Copeland

Paul E. Copeland is a minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, who for some years has been doing research at Glasgow University on the Septuagint as a witness to ancient exegesis (with special reference to the minor prophets).