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Chapter 1: Prophecy in its Various Contexts

Chapter 2: Intermediaries and Prophets in the Ancient Near East

Chapter 3: Stories of Prophets in the Pentateuch

Chapter 4: Stories of Prophets in the Deuteronomistic History

Chapter 5: The Prophetic Books

Chapter 6: Amos of Tekoa, Prophet of Doom

Chapter 7: Hosea, Prophet of the Covenant

Chapter 8: Isaiah, Prophet of Zion

Chapter 9: Micah of Moresheth

Chapter 10: Three Late Seventh-Century Prophets: Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk

Chapter 11: The Fall of Jerusalem: Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Obadiah

Chapter 12: Ezekiel, Priest and Prophet in Exile

Chapter 13: The Second Isaiah: Consolation in Exile

Chapter 14: Prophecy after the Exile (Part 1): Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi

Chapter 15: Prophecy after the Exile (Part 2): Third Isaiah, Joel, and Jonah

Chapter 1: Prophecy in Its Various Contexts

Terms to know: intermediary, Deuteronomistic History, Pentateuch, canon

1.

What are the major kingdoms of the ancient Near East that interact with Israel? Locate them on a map.

2.

Sketch the major events and people of Israel's history from Abraham to the Return from Exile.

3.

Name and discuss four cultural assumptions that make prophecy possible and acceptable in any particular society.

4.

What are two aspects of the prophet's role as a minister?

5.

Name and describe the three main blocks of material in the Bible for our study of the prophets.

6.

How does the canonical context influence our interpretation of individual verses and books within the Bible?

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Chapter 2: Intermediaries and Prophets in the Ancient Near East

Terms to know: diviner, polytheism, divine assembly, inductive and intuitive divination

1.

What is the biblical evidence for the divine assembly? How is Israel's understanding of this like and unlike that of other ancient cultures?

2.

What is the relationship between divine rule and kingly rule?

3.

Describe the divine and kingly concerns for justice.

4.

What are some of the ways in which temples and priests were important in ancient societies?

5.

What are some of the ways in which divine messages are received in inductive divination? In intuitive divination?

6.

What is the significance of the texts from Mari for our understanding of biblical prophecy?

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Chapter 3: Stories of Prophets in the Pentateuch

Terms to know: documentary hypothesis, call story, prophetic refusal, Deir {Alla, covenant

1.

In what way is Abraham considered a prophet? What does this contribute to our understanding of the role of prophets in general?

2.

Describe the role of Moses as an intercessor. Name and describe three strategies he uses to urge God to be merciful.

3.

Taken together, what do the "E" stories of Abraham, Moses, Miriam, and Balaam tells us about prophecy?

4.

What are Deuteronomy's three criteria for judging authentic prophecy? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

5.

What are the standard parts of a suzerainty treaty? How does this inform our understanding of the biblical covenant?

6.

Name and describe some of the major themes in the book of Deuteronomy.

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Chapter 4: Stories of Prophets in the Deuteronomistic History

Terms to know: tribal confederacy, judge, messenger formula, hΩerem, dynasty

1.

As modeled by Samuel, what are three social functions of the prophet?

2.

Name and describe three aspects of Royal Theology.

3.

Name and describe four prophetic speech forms.

4.

Describe the roles played by the prophets Ahijah and Shemaiah in the division of the kingdom.

5.

The stories of Elijah highlight the conflict between the Canaanite god, Baal, and the Israelite God, Yahweh. Discuss the similarities and differences between Baal and Yahweh, and illustrate them with examples from the stories.

6.

Is Elijah a "prophet like Moses"? Using evidence from the stories, present both sides of the argument and then come to your own conclusion.

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Chapter 5: The Prophetic Books

Terms to know: superscription, former prophets, latter prophets, major prophets, minor prophets, parallelism (synonymous and antithetic)

1.

What are some ways in which prophecy in the Deuteronomistic History differs from that in the prophetic books?

2.

Describe the importance of ethical conduct and the practice of social justice in the prophetic books.

3.

Discuss the theme of judgment and the use of the courtroom and of legal language in the prophetic books.

4.

Beyond judgment, the prophets maintained a sense of hope for the future. What are the sources of their hope?

5.

Describe how the power of the monarchy and the phenomenon of urbanization challenged the social and economic structures of eighth century Israel.

6.

What factors contributed to the rise and expansion of Assyria under Tiglath-pileser III?

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Chapter 6: Amos of Tekoa, Prophet of Doom

Terms to know: apostasy, nazirite, election, Day of the Lord, lectionary

1.

What are some of the signs of editorial activity in the Book of Amos? What is the significance of this activity?

2.

What are Amos' main indictments against Israel?

3.

What is Amos' assessment of religious practices in Israel? What is the relationship between religious rites and social justice?

4.

Describe Amos' role as an intercessor. What are the results and the limits of his intercession?

5.

Amos refers to two important Israelite traditions: "the day of the Lord" and the theme of "election." What did these originally refer to and how did Amos reinterpret these traditions?

6.

This chapter refers to Amos as the "Prophet of Doom." Is this justified? If so, how? If not, why not?

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Chapter 7: Hosea, Prophet of the Covenant

Concepts to know: knowledge of God, wilderness theme, marriage as a metaphor, fertility

1.

Discuss Hosea's marriage and family. How does his relationship to his wife and family reflect his understanding of God's covenant with Israel?

2.

Discuss the theme of agricultural and human fertility in the Book of Hosea. In what ways are Hosea's views similar to those of Elijah?

3.

How does Hosea employ the stories of Israel's ancestors?

4.

How does Hosea reinterpret the exodus and wilderness traditions?

5.

Discuss the theme of "knowledge." How does it relate to Hosea's interest in the covenant?

6.

Compare and contrast Amos and Hosea on the themes of judgment and hope.

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Chapter 8: Isaiah, Prophet of Zion

Terms to know: holy, Immanuel, Syro-Ephraimite War, "orphan and widow," remnant, theophany

1.

Discuss the reasons scholars believe the Book of Isaiah is a composite book written by different authors at different times.

2.

What is the theological significance of the three important historical events that happened during Isaiah's ministry?

3.

What is Isaiah's opinion of religious rites? How do his views compare to those of Amos and Hosea?

4.

Discuss the ways in which Royal Theology (God's choice of David and Jerusalem) is evident in the Book of Isaiah. God's promise to protect Jerusalem certainly was fulfilled in 701. Can you foresee any problems this might cause in the future?

5.

Discuss the importance of social justice in the theology of First Isaiah: who should do justice? Who failed to do justice? What did injustice look like? How is earthly justice related to divine justice?

6.

In what ways is the theme of trust central to the teachings of Isaiah?

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Chapter 9: Micah of Moresheth

1.

Discuss three of the problematic areas in the society of Micah's time that contributed to an overall climate of injustice.

2.

Discuss the significance of Micah 6:8.

3.

In addition to injustice, what other sins of the people did Micah target for divine judgment?

4.

Describe Micah's vision for the restoration of Judah.

5.

Discuss the traditions of Israel employed by Micah.

6.

Discuss the importance of justice for Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah who all ministered in the last half of the eighth century.

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Chapter 10: Three Late Seventh-Century Prophets: Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk

Terms to know: lament, pesher

1.

What is the importance of the discovery of "the book of the law" during Josiah's reign? What is this book? What is the relationship between law and prophecy in this story?

2.

While other prophets also preached about the "Day of the Lord," Zephaniah develops it at greater length and in more vivid detail than the prophets we have encountered so far. Discuss Zephaniah's development of this theme.

3.

Nahum rejoices in the complete destruction of Nineveh, a destruction he boasts that Yahweh brought about. Is Yahweh's judgment just or excessive? Is preserving such a text as Nahum as a religious text a good thing? Are the Jewish, Protestant, and Catholic lectionaries right to exclude Nahum from being read during worship? Why or why not?

4.

Central to the Book of Habakkuk are the themes of justice/injustice and faith/faithfulness. How are these themes related to one another?

5.

All three of these short books employ the image of God as the Divine Warrior. What have we learned about the Divine Warrior so far in this study of the prophets? What values and virtues of God does this image convey? What problems might this image pose for readers today?

6.

To this point in our study, we have seen the two sides of judgment: punishment for the wicked and deliverance for the righteous. Do you find the notion of a punishing God troubling? Does punishment conflict with love and mercy? Is punishment a necessary aspect of justice?

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Chapter 11: The Fall of Jerusalem: Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Obadiah

Terms to know: Lamentations of Jeremiah, Temple Sermon, diaspora

1.

Discuss the many ways in which Jeremiah is presented as a "prophet like Moses.

2.

What do the "Lamentations of Jeremiah" contribute to our understanding of Jeremiah's ministry as a prophet and to our understanding of prophets in general?

3.

The theme of the covenant dominates the Book of Jeremiah. Discuss Jeremiah's understanding of the covenant and the place it has in his theology.

4.

Jeremiah's words explain why the destruction of the city and the deportation of the people was justified and inevitable. What, according to Jeremiah, are the chief sins of Judah that result in this punishment?

5.

How is the problem of false prophecy evident in the Book of Jeremiah? What are several ways, according to Jeremiah, in which prophets are revealed as false?

6.

Though much of Jeremiah is concerned with punishment and destruction, there is also careful attention to the theme of hope for the future. What are some of the ways in which the Book of Jeremiah provides hope?

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Chapter 12: Ezekiel, Priest and Prophet in Exile

Terms to know: pure/impure, clean/unclean, God the Shepherd, Vision of Dry Bones

1.

Describe how and why the Torah (Law) grew in importance during the exilic and post-exilic periods.

2.

We have tracked the role of the prophet as an intercessor. Discuss how, in the time of Ezekiel, a turning point has been reached and God will no longer listen to prophetic intercession.

3.

Discuss the various ways in which Ezekiel's priestly background and worldview are evident in his prophecy.

4.

Ezekiel and Jeremiah were contemporaries who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple and the exile of the people. Yet they viewed things from different theological perspectives. Compare and contrast their respective theologies of the Fall of Jerusalem.

5.

Discuss the several ways in which Ezekiel presents to the people a message of hope and restoration.

6.

What is Ezekiel's vision for the restored Israel, Temple, and kingship?

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Chapter 13: The Second Isaiah: Consolation in Exile

Terms to know: messiah, monotheism, Servant of the Lord

1.

The exile represented more than a military defeat for Judah. In what sense was this also a religious crisis for the people of God?

2.

Explain how is the theme of creation related to the theme of redemption.

3.

Discuss the role and titles of Cyrus in the redemption of the Jewish exiles from Babylon.

4.

To this point in the history of prophecy, prophets have condemned the Israelites for their practice of idolatry. Second Isaiah, however, turns his judgment against the Babylonian gods and goddesses. Discuss how Second Isaiah attacks the Babylonian gods and their idols.

5.

Discuss the issues surrounding the controversial and anonymous "Servant of the Lord" in Second Isaiah.

6.

Discuss how the three traditional roles of the prophet make their reappearance in Second Isaiah.

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Chapter 14: Prophecy after the Exile (Part 1): Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi

Terms to know: Decree of Cyrus, Second Temple, postexilic

1.

Describe the challenges and issues faced by those who returned to Jerusalem after the exile. Pay particular attention to the rebuilding of the Temple and the increasing importance of Law.

2.

Haggai insists that the top priority of the returnees should be the rebuilding of the Temple. What values does such a priority enshrine? Does such religious devotion compete with meeting the needs of people for food and shelter? How would you balance religious devotion and meeting human needs?

3.

Previous prophets had been severe critics of the cult, urging people to practice justice and to do right. How is Zechariah both like these prophets and different from them?

4.

There are several new realities reflected in the Book of Zechariah. Comment on the role of the high priest, the form of government, and the method of divine communication.

5.

Malachi is very concerned about the issue of faithlessness. Discuss his concerns and his remedies.

6.

All three of these prophets - Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi - show considerable interest in the Temple, priesthood, and in proper worship. How are these concerns evident in their writings? How does this reflect their changed social situation, i.e., how is life different after the exile?

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Chapter 15: Prophecy after the Exile (Part 2): Third Isaiah, Joel, and Jonah

Terms to know: apocalyptic

1.

What are some of the themes and concerns of the eighth century prophets that reappear in Third Isaiah? What light does this book shed on the social situation of his community in the post-exilic period?

2.

Discuss the ways in which the works of First Isaiah (1-39), Second Isaiah (40-55), and Third Isaiah (56-66) can be considered as one book.

3.

Joel focuses at length on a great locust invasion - a common threat in the Middle East. Though reporting this ecological disaster in vivid detail, his interests are theological. What theological significance does Joel find in this natural event?

4.

Discuss the many ways in which the story of Jonah is ironic, both in terms of the plot itself and in this book's relationship with the prophetic tradition of Israel.

5.

Using Jonah as a starting point, discuss the themes of divine justice and mercy in the prophets.

6.

Review the "Important Themes and Motifs" discussed in chapter 5 of this book (pages 107-114). What more have you learned about each of these themes?

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