Cutting Room Floor: Minor Prophets – Interpretation
But as we move through the Minor Prophets we have to keep in mind that while they broadly share the modes and even the messages that they communicate in common, they are each deeply different from one another. In some cases they speak hundreds of years apart from one another; they speak to people who have deeply different ideas about God; to people who have deeply different practices and understandings of what’s normal. The prophets themselves are from different parts of Israel, different classes of Israel. They’re different from each other.
So interpreting the Minor Prophets demands that we understand them first. This shouldn’t surprise us. We’ve got to understand the world each of the Minor Prophets was communicating to before we can figure out the ways what they say is relevant for us today. We’ve got to interpret them on their own terms. They meant something to Israel when they spoke; they’ve been a part of an interpreting community long before 2017. We’ll make sure, as we move through these books, to talk about the way they mattered to Jesus, to those who wrote about him, to those who wrote after him, and to the early Church and the Church since as they’ve read them. But we can’t bridge the gap between our situation and theirs without first understanding them. If we open up a Minor Prophet, read it, and then automatically decide it’s only relevant for us, and the best way to interpret it is to read today’s newspaper, we’ve flunked Bible Study 101. We’ll have to go back to Remedial Prophecy.