An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books

By C. Hassell Bullock
Chicago : Moody (1986). 391 Pages.

Reviewed by
2.1 (Spring 1991) : 102-103

In this volume, C. Hassell Bullock, Professor of OT Studies at Wheaton College, treats both the major and minor prophets (Christian Canon) or latter prophets (Jewish Canon) according to their chronological rather than their historical interrelationships. His primary concern is to establish "the broad picture, with the individual prophets in their historical and theological niches" (p. 11). This approach is particularly important, because each prophet draws upon the writings of others:

Though the prophets were not given to quoting one another by name, they did draw upon each other, some more than others. Once that dependence is recognized, a new view of the prophetic movement emerges. They were not lone individualists who knew nothing and cared nothing for what others who bore the name "prophet" had said. Rather they saw themselves in a line of succession and were aware of the tradition they had received from their predecessors (p. 11).

Organizing the prophets historically can be both difficult and artificial because many of the historical relations must be inferred from scanty data. But if one views prophecy as a movement, the fact that the prophets' messages arose as responses to historical and moral crises requires them to be considered within a historical framework (p. 11). The author, recognizing that his approach "carries an element of risk" (p. 11), endeavors to use all available research to accomplish the task. He locates the literary prophets within the three historical periods: the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and Persian.

Bullock introduces his discussion with Jonah instead of Amos for three main reasons:

The early date assigned to Jonah by the writer of Kings (2 Kings 14:25), the book's emphasis on the prophetic career, and the transitional nature of Jonah's prophecy from the preclassical to the classical model (p. 41).

A discussion of each prophet and his literary contribution follows in sequence, furnishing the situation of each book in the overall prophetic movement. A book outline concludes the discussion of each. A bibliography for each book and topics relating to prophecy comes at the end of the volume, along with indices by subject and person, author, and Scripture.