The Minor Prophets or Twelve Prophets (Hebrew: שנים עשר, Shneim Asar; Imperial Aramaic: תרי עשר, Trei Asar, "Twelve") (Ancient Greek: δωδεκαπρόφητον, "the Twelve Prophets"), occasionally Book of the Twelve, is a collection of prophetic books, written between about the 8th and 4th centuries BCE, which are in both the Jewish Tanakh and Christian Old Testament.

In the Tanakh, they appear as a single book, "The Twelve", which is the last book of the Nevi'im, the second of three major divisions of the Tanakh.

In the Christian Old Testament, the collection appears as twelve individual books, one for each of the prophets: the Book of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Their order, and position in the Old Testament, varies slightly between the Protestant, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles.

The name "Minor Prophets" goes back apparently to St. Augustine,[1][non-primary source needed] who distinguished the 12 shorter prophetic books as prophetae minores from the four longer books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.


A high resolution scan of the Aleppo Codex containing parts of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets (the eighth book in Nevi'im), from 10th century.

Individual books

Scholars usually assume that there exists an original core of prophetic tradition behind each book which can be attributed to the figure after whom it is named.[2] In general, each book includes three types of material:

The noteworthy exception is the Book of Jonah, an anonymous work which contains a narrative about the prophet Jonah.

As a collection

It is not known when these short works were collected and transferred to a single scroll, but the first extra-biblical evidence for the Twelve as a collection is c. 190 BCE in the writings of Yeshua ben Sirach,[4] and evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that the modern order of the Tanakh, which would potentially include the twelve, had been established by 150 BCE.[5] It is believed that initially the first six were collected, and later the second six were added; the two groups seem to complement each other, with Hosea through Micah raising the question of iniquity, and Nahum through Malachi proposing resolutions.[6]

Many, though not all, modern scholars agree that the editing process which produced the Book of the Twelve reached its final form in Jerusalem during the Achaemenid period (538–332 BCE), although there is disagreement over whether this was early or late.[7]

The comparison of different ancient manuscripts indicates that the order of the individual books was originally fluid. The arrangement found in current Bibles is roughly chronological. First come those prophets dated to the early Assyrian period: Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah; Joel is undated, but it was possibly placed before Amos because parts of a verse near the end of Joel (3.16 [4.16 in Hebrew]) and one near the beginning of Amos (1.2) are identical. Also we can find in both Amos (4.9 and 7.1–3) and Joel a description of a plague of locusts. These are followed by prophets that are set in the later Assyrian period: Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. Last come those set in the Persian period: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, although some scholars date "Second Zechariah" to the Hellenistic Era.[8] However it is important to note that chronology was not the only consideration, as "It seems that an emphatic focus on Jerusalem and Judah was [also] a main concern.[4] For example, Obadiah is generally understood as reflecting the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE,[9] and would therefore fit later in a purely chronological sequence.

Sequence of books

The first part of the book of Twelve Minor Prophets (the first book is the Book of Hosea) in the Codex Gigas, the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world, from 13th century. Now at the National Library of Sweden in Stockholm.

In the Hebrew Bible, these works are counted as one anthology. The works appear in the same order in Jewish, Protestant and Catholic Bibles, but in Eastern Orthodox Christian Bibles they are ordered according to the Septuagint. The books are in rough chronological order, according to explicit statements within the books themselves.

The twelve books are:

Order Orthodox
Book Traditional date
1 1 Hosea (Osee) 8th century BCE (before the fall of the Northern Kingdom)
2 4 Joel uncertain
3 2 Amos 8th century BCE (before the fall of the Northern Kingdom)
4 5 Obadiah (Abdias) uncertain (9th century or 6th century BCE)
5 6 Jonah (Jonas) uncertain (8th century BCE or post-exilic period)
6 3 Micah (Micheas) 8th century BCE (before the fall of the Northern Kingdom)
7 7 Nahum 7th century BCE (before the fall of the Southern Kingdom)
8 8 Habakkuk (Habacuc) 7th century BCE (before the fall of the Southern Kingdom)
9 9 Zephaniah (Sophanias) 7th century BCE (before the fall of the Southern Kingdom)
10 10 Haggai (Aggeus) 6th century BCE (after return from exile)
11 11 Zechariah (Zacharias) 6th century BCE (after return from exile)
12 12 Malachi (Malachias) 5th century BCE (after return from exile)

Christian commemoration

In the Roman Catholic Church, the twelve minor prophets are read in the Tridentine Breviary during the fourth and fifth weeks of November, which are the last two weeks of the liturgical year, before Advent.

In Year 1 of the modern Lectionary, Haggai, Zechariah, Jonah, Malachi, and Joel are read in weeks 25–27 of Ordinary Time. In Year 2, Amos, Hosea, and Micah are read in weeks 14–16 of Ordinary Time. In Year 1 of the two-year cycle of the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours, Micah 4 and 7 are read in the third week of Advent; Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, and Habakkuk are read in weeks 22–29 of Ordinary Time. In Year 2, Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 are read in weeks 11–12 of Ordinary Time; Obadiah, Joel, Malachi, Jonah, and Zechariah 9–14 are read in Week 18.

They are collectively commemorated in the Calendar of Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church on July 31.

See also


  1. ^ Augustine (1866). Civ. 18.29: Corpus scriptorum ecclesiasticorum latinorum (Vienna 1866–). Vol. 40.2.306.
  2. ^ Floyd 2000, p. 9.
  3. ^ Coogan 2009.
  4. ^ a b Ben Zvi 2004, pp. 1139–42.
  5. ^ Redditt 2003, p. 1.
  6. ^ Coggins & Han 2011, p. 4.
  7. ^ Redditt 2003, pp. 1–3, 9.
  8. ^ "Book of Zechariah".
  9. ^ Ben Zvi 2004, pp. 1193–94.

Further reading

Preceded byEzekiel Hebrew Bible Followed byPsalms Preceded byDaniel Christian Old Testament End of Old TestamentNew Testament begins withMatthew