St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
“THE BOOK OF TWELVE (The Minor Prophets: Joel and Jonah)”
Group Leader / Handouts: Mike Kreutzer, Rector
Sunday, May 21, 2006
The Book of the Twelve — Adult Forum Notes
We do not know anything about Joel, except that he was the “son of Pethuel.” He seems to have lived in or near Jerusalem during the Persian period (538-336), probably between 400 and 350 (the mention of Sidon in 3:4 is a clue, since it was destroyed in 343). His name means “the Lord is God”; it is a common name in the Old Testament, appearing more than a dozen times.
Like Haggai and Zechariah he was a “cultic prophet,” participating in the liturgy and using its forms, plus some apocalyptic imagery, in his teaching.
He sometimes quotes other prophets: 1:15 cites Isaiah 13:6; 3:16 quotes Amos 1:2; 2:1-2 uses material from Zephaniah 1:14-15.
1:2-4 Here is a memorable story, to be passed on from generation to generation. Nothing like this destruction has happened as far back as any of his hearers remember, nor has there ever been such a deliverance as the one that was now coming. A terrible and devastating locust plague has destroyed the land.
Part one: 1:5 – 2:17 The locust plague as a symbol for the coming Day of the Lord
This section is in chiastic form:
Gather the people for fasting and prayer (1:5-14) >>> because the Day of the Lord is near. (1:15-20).
The Day of the Lord is near (2:1-11) >>> so gather the people for fasting and prayer (2:12-17).
1:5-14 the totality of the destruction & a call to repentance
1:15-20 The Day of the Lord is coming as a day of destruction for the whole earth.
2:1-11 the Day of the Lord as a day of deep darkness; 3 pictures the stark contrast between “before” and “after”;
2:4-11 pictures the locusts as a fierce army
2:12-17 The plague is seen as a punishment from God, so there is hope in repentance (a passage used sometimes on Ash Wednesday).
Part two: 2:18-32 God’s response to the prayers of the people
2:18-20, 24-27 God has heard his people and has pitied them. He will rescue and restore them.
2:21-23 praises of God: “Do not fear, O soil…”; “Do not fear, you animals of the field:; “O children of Zion, rejoice and be glad in the LORD your God…”
2:28-32 “Afterward” seems to indicate a far-distant future, beyond the Day-of-the-Lord events that have been described so far. God will pour out his spirit on all people. This passage is quoted by Peter in Acts 2:17-21 during his Pentecost sermon.
Part three: 3:1-21 The ultimate Day of the Lord will result in punishment of the nations
and blessings for Israel.
3:1-3 God will judge the nations. “Jehoshaphat” means “the LORD judges”; it is probably a symbolic name rather than an actual location. Joel charges them with four offenses against Israel: scattering Israel among the nations, dividing Israel’s land, selling the people into slavery, and selling even the young children into slavery.
3:4-8 The punishment of Tyre, Sidon and Philistia will fit the crime.
3:9-12 a call to judgment
3:13-17 God shall judge the nations, but protect Israel.
3:18-21 “On that day” again looks to the far-distant future, when all of Israel’s enemies shall be destroyed, and when Israel shall prosper, with the LORD dwelling in Zion.
Uses of Joel in the Sunday readings of The Revised Common Lectionary
(2:1-2,12-17 is an optional reading for Ash Wednesday of all three years)
Jonah is different from all the other prophetic books. It is actually a didactic narrative. Jonah was not a typical prophet, faithfully announcing God’s word, but tried to avoid it and struggle against it.
The historical “Jonah the son of Amittai” was an obscure prophet at the time of Jeroboam II (2 Kings 14:25 – “[Jeroboam II of Israel] restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher.”). The present book was written after the Exile, possibly in the 5th or 4th century. It shows the influence of Jeremiah and Second Isaiah.
Nahum, especially chapter 3, can serve as a background, providing an understanding of the attitude toward Nineveh
The story is not about Jonah; it is about the LORD and Jonah. God is mentioned 39 times in its 38 verses.
Jonah consists of five scenes (acc. to Limburg): Each section has a “where” and a “who”, with the Lord and Jonah speaking alone in parts 1, 3 & 5.
1:1-3 in the land of Israel: the Lord and Jonah
1:4-16 at sea Jonah and the sailors
1:17 – 2:10 in the fish the Lord and Jonah
3:1-10 in Nineveh the Lord, Jonah, the Ninevites
4:1-11 outside Nineveh the Lord and Jonah
1:1-3 The Lord calls Jonah, and Jonah tries to flee.
1:4-16 The sailors, who are not Jewish, are portrayed as honest, religious, sensible men. According to a Jewish tradition, they included members of all 27 of the peoples of the earth.
1:17 – 2:10 includes a psalm from inside the fish.
3:1-10 begins with God calling Jonah “a second time.” Nineveh hears, repents and is saved.
4:1-11 portrays a Jonah who is angry at the universality of God’s mercy. The story ends just as it began (1:2) with a reference to “Nineveh, that great city” (4:11).
Matthew 12:40 — “For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so for three days and three nights the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth.”
(see also Matthew 12: 39 & 41, Matthew 16:4 & 17, and Luke 11:29-32)
Uses of Jonah in the Sunday readings of The Revised Common Lectionary
3:1-5,10 Year B, 4th Sunday after the Epiphany
3:10 – 4:11 Year A, Proper 20