Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Former Prophets (Overview)

The Former Prophets are the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 & 2 Samuel, and 1 & 2 Kings. They are also known as the Deuteronomistic History because they follow the theological theme of the author of Deuteronomy.

They follow the history from the entrance into the Promised Land, late 13th century BCE, to the deportation to Babylon in 587 BCE. These works (along with the
Book of Deuteronomy and some editorializing of Genesis through Numbers) were likely created in the 7th century BCE during the reign of Josiah (640-609 BCE) after the conquest of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) in 722 BCE.

History is not the best word to describe these works. They are commentary and theological interpretation of history.
Former Prophets is more accurate as the authors make prophetic analysis regarding the history of Israel and Judah. That is they claim to speak for God.

The theological theme throughout the Former Prophets is that the people will be successful in the land if they worship only YHWH. If they worship and serve other gods, YHWH will either remove his presence from them or will actively support the other nations in order to punish YHWH's people.

The Former Prophets speak to the situation in Josiah's time and for Josiah. With the threat of Babylon on the horizon, the former prophets have one message, you will retain the land by fidelity to YHWH. Some scholars suggest that the Former Prophets were not completed until the Exile (587 - 539 BCE). In this setting, they speak to the people in exile that the promise that getting back the land will require fidelity to YHWH.

Michael Palmer provides an excellent overview in his article, The Former Prophets. Here is a brief outline of the writings with the aid of an excellent resource, Reading the Old Testament:

Introduction and Key Terms
Story Line
Chapters 1-12 Campaigns of Conquest
Chapters 13-21 Tribal Territories
Chapters 22-24 Covenant Considerations
Outline of Joshua
Joshua as a Whole
Take the Quiz

Introduction and Key Terms
Story Line
What is a Judge?
Chapters 1-3 Narrative Introduction
Chapters 3-16 The Judges at Work
Outline of Judges
Judges as a Whole
Take the Quiz

Introduction and Key Terms
Story Line
1 Sam. 1-12 Samuel Cycle
1 Sam. 13-31 Saul Cycle
2 Sam. 1-24 David Cycle
Outline of Samuel
Samuel as a Whole
Take the Quiz

Introduction and Key Terms
Story Line
1 Kings 1-11 Solomon and the Unified Monarchy
1 Kings 12-2 Kings 17 Parallel Histories of Israel and Judah
2 Kings 18-25 Judah to the Babylonian Exile
Outline of Kings
Kings as a Whole
Take the Quiz

Here is my quick guide to the Former Prophets and the quiz to complete and turn in for your prize! Send your quiz answers to!

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