A Hebrew Bible/Old Testament scholar looks at the Bible and culture…

Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

book coverThe Abingdon Old Testament Commentaries provide compact, critical commentaries on the book sof the Old Testament for the use of theological students and pastors. The commentaries are also useful for upper-level college or university students and for those responsible for teaching in congregational settings. In addition to providing basic information and insights into the Old Testament writings, these commentaries exemplify the tasks and procedures of careful interpretation, to assist students of the Old Testament in coming to an informed and critical engagement with the biblical texts themselves.

The six books found at the close of the Minor Prophets (Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) present distinctive understandings of God, humanity, and the future. This commentary engages those understandings, considers what the books may have meant in the past, and describes how they resonate with contemporary readers. With attention to issues of gender, violence, and inclusivity, O’Brien explores the ethical challenges of the books and asks how faithful readers can both acknowledge the problems these biblical books raise and appreciate their value for contemporary theological reflection.

In characteristically interesting and well-written commentary, Julia M. O’Brien provides not only a detailed exegesis of the prophetic books from Nahum to Malachi, but also a profound theological analysis of the prophetic message. She situates this message both in the ancient context of the prophets and in the modern world in which we read them, with its concerns for divine and human justice. An exceptional contribution to the Abingdon series.
– John Barton, Oriel and Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford

This eminently readable commentary on the last six of the books of the Twelve distinguishes itself by its attention to the way th eprophetic books both use and inculcate violence. O’Brien refuses to let readers whitewash the violence of God or ignore the violent imagery and ethos of these books. Yet she insists that studying these short prophetic texts in their historical contexts will cause them to critique us even as we critique them. Her exegetical attention to the ancient Near Eastern background and literary beauty of these books reveals their theological power to name forces at work in our world and press us toward fidelity to the God of peace.
– Kathleen M. O’Connor, Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

O’Brien’s new commentary on the last half of the Minor Prophets offers a nicely balanced treatment of literary, historical, and theological issues. These books pose diverse interpretive challenges. O’Brien capably treats topics such as the ideology of revenge in Nahum, theodicy in Habakkuk, visionary rhetoric in Zechariah, and paternal language in Malachi. Further, her treatment of these prophetic books as contextualized theology presents a model for theological analysis of biblical literature. Her interpretive work includes attention to the Hebrew text, thus making this commentary useful to both beginning and advanced students. Readers will be well served by this clear and up-to-date volume.
– David L. Petersen, Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University