Lessing, R. Reed & Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2014. Chapter 27, “The Book of the Twelve” pp. 447-450.
Lessing observes that the tradition classification of the prophets is potentially misleading. Often the longer books have been called “major prophets” while the shorter have been called “minor prophets.” Lessing consideres this to be derogatory, so prefer a category name such as “the Book of the Twelve” (Lessing 2014, 447). These twelve writings, considered together, are slightly longer than Ezekiel, but shorter than Isaiah or Jeremiah. From antiquity, the twelve have been gathered together as one. During the 20th century this gathering was sometimes posited as an editorial alteration to earlier writings. “The idea put forth is that each of the Twelve was constructed by final redactors in such a way that the message of each builds on its predecessors, picking up words and motifs from them” (Lessing 2014, 447). Lessing notes themes such as “the day of Yahweh,” and earthquake, and other apocalyptic signs (Lessing 2014, 448). However, the similarity is not so great as to require an overarching editorial plan. Lessing insists on treading the individual books “as important in and of themselves and composed by the authors who bear their names before asking questions about how they fit into a larger picture” (Lessing 2014, 449). He does note that while Christian versions of the Old Testament place these books at the end, the Hebrew Bible places them at the end of its section of Prophets, before the other part, called “writings.” This does leave the person who reads through the entire book with a different final impression. In Judaism, one is left with the idea of living in the land and worshiping in Jerusalem, based on the end of 2 Chronicles. In Christianity, one is left with the idea of looking for a coming “Elijah” who will be a forerunner of the Messiah (Lessing 2014, 449).