to Catalyst on-line. United Methodist (UM) seminarians have been receiving
Catalyst in their mail boxes since 1973.
What is Catalyst?
issues of Catalyst are mailed each academic year to some 5,000 UM theological
students in more than 100 seminaries in the U.S.A.
is a project of A Foundation for Theological Education (AFTE).
What is the John Wesley Fellowship Program?
year AFTE awards up to five John Wesley Fellowships to assist gifted United
Methodists in their doctoral studies at the finest universities.
back issues of Catalyst are now available on-line.
is free for UM seminarians, and is available to all others for $5 per year.
BUILDING AN OT LIBRARY: HOSEA—MALACHI
In the Hellenistic period, if not before, the Minor Prophets were collected
on one scroll and known as the Twelve (Sir 49:10). By analogy several modern
publishers have placed commentaries on more than one of these prophetic works
in a single volume. This practice can be helpful on student budgets and shelf
space when the quality of the collected work is good. Several examples of
collected commentaries on the Minor Prophets that are worth having in one’s
library include: The Word Biblical Commentary, which treats the Twelve in
two volumes, D.K. Stuart on Hosea-Jonah (Word, 1987) and R.L. Smith
on Micah-Malachi (1984). The format of the series allows for analyses
of translation, literary and historical matters, and each scholar offers
judicious comments on the theological significance of the text.
One can say similar things about the three volumes (so far) in the long-running
New International Commentary on the Old Testament. L. Allen produced an early,
but useful, treatment of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah and Micah (Wm.B. Eerdmans,
1976). P. Verhoef, a South African scholar, analyzes Haggai and Malachi
(1987), and O.P. Robertson does the same for Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah
(1990). Broadman and Holman’s New American Commentary offers solid evangelical
fare through a traditional format. D. Garrett contributes the volume on Hosea
and Joel (1997); B.K. Smith and F.R. Page author the volume on Amos,
Obadiah and Jonah (1995); and K.L. Barker and W. Bailey do the honors
for the volume on Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah (1999). Baker
Book House offers a three-volume set by T. McComiskey on the Twelve (1997).
One finds in these volumes a solid evangelical analysis and attention to
One can also acquire treatment of the Twelve by a very fine biblical expositor,
E. Achtemeier, with the acquisition of two volumes, each from a different
publisher: Nahum-Malachi (1986) in Westminster John Knox’s Interpretation
Commentary Series, and Minor Prophets I (i.e., Hosea - Micah) in the
New International Bible Commentary Series (Hendrickson, 1996). Achtemeier
was one of the best at setting the basic historical and literary contexts
for prophetic texts and then moving on to theological analysis. In the popular,
but unfinished NIV Application Commentary from Zondervan, G. Smith has a
volume on Hosea, Amos and Micah (2001). This series does a fine job of moving
from original context to contemporary application.
The ever-expanding Anchor Bible has substantial entries for the Minor Prophets.
With respect to historical analysis and attention to literary matters, generally
speaking these are decent, detailed works, and well worth the purchase. Attention
to theological concerns is a hit or miss proposition, however. Among the
volumes, the learned duo of D.N. Freedman and F.I. Andersen have authored
commentaries on Hosea (1980), Amos (1988) and Micah (2000),
all of which can be read profitably by evangelical students and those interested
in theological matters. These are substantial works; for example, their first
volume on Hosea runs 700 pages. Both authors have invested decades in research,
and their comments and detailed notes are mines of information. Andersen
alone recently completed the volume on Habakkuk (2001). Two other
volumes in the series deserve comment: P. Rabbe examines Obadiah,
the shortest of the Twelve, in three hundred pages (1996); and A. Hill does
a thorough job on Malachi (1998). Both of these scholars have solid
theological interests which can be discerned in their detailed historical
Finally, in this category of single volumes on multiple books, students might
consider The Berit Olam Commentary Series produced by the Liturgical Press,
which emphasizes analysis of narrative and poetry. The Twelve are treated
in two volumes by M. Sweeney, a Jewish scholar and competent exegete.
InterVarsity Press is producing a very fine series called The Bible Speaks
Today. J.A. Motyer edits the OT volumes, whose authors are evangelicals,
mostly from the UK. Individual volumes in the series typically begin with
“The Message of...,” completed by the name of a biblical book or books. These
modest-sized volumes are first-rate examples of basic exposition and theological
commentary. D. Kidner wrote the volume on Hosea (1984) and Motyer the volume
on Amos (1984). After a several year gap there is now a volume by D. Prior
on Joel, Micah, and Habakkuk (1999), one by B. Webb on Zechariah (2003),
and one by R. Nixon on Jonah (2003).
InterVarsity Press is also producing one of the most innovative commentary
series available, namely the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, edited
by T.C. Oden. The author, or perhaps better said, editor of a particular
volume, presents collected comments on the text from the early church. Volume
14, dedicated to the Twelve and edited by A. Ferreiro, has recently been
published (2003). This series should be essential reading, since it grounds
biblical exposition in the life and faith of the early church masters, a
portion of church history to which North American evangelicals often pay
lip service, but which is much underused. The volume on the Twelve is best
used as a supplement to other resources, but it should be high on the purchase
list of students.
There are some “stand-alone” works that deserve mention. J.J.M. Roberts on
Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah in the Old Testament Library Series
from Westminster John Knox (1991) is a succinct and careful treatment of
these three biblical books. In the same series comes J. Barton on Joel
and Obadiah (2001), also with a succinct and insightful approach. In
the International Critical Commentary Series published by T & T Clark,
A.A. Macintosh offers the kind of detailed exegetical and historical work
on Hosea (1997) that one expects from this venerable series, but he
also offers a number of references to classical Jewish commentators that
help round out his clear theological interest in this most enigmatic of the
Twelve. This is a “replacement” commentary for the classic work by W.R. Harper
in this same series (1905).
By J. Andrew Dearman, Professor of OT, Austin Presbyterian Theological