Question and Answer with Michael Shepherd on The Minor Prophets

Learn more about The Book of the Twelve in the Kregel Exegetical Library Series

bible commentary minor prophetsMichael Shepherd (Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Cedarville University.

Dr. Shepherd previously taught Old Testament and Hebrew at Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, for nine years (2006-2015). He has published seven academic monographs and more than a dozen peer-reviewed journal articles, essays, and book chapters in his field. He is currently working on a commentary on the book of Jeremiah for the Kregel Exegetical Library series.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on the Minor Prophets?

My interest in the composition of the Book of the Twelve began about fifteen years ago. I published the earliest expression of my understanding of this composition in a 2008 ZAW article entitled, “Compositional Analysis of the Twelve.” This led to my 2011 book, The Twelve Prophets in the New Testament (Peter Lang), in which I tried to articulate the way in which reading in the context of the Twelve as a whole influenced the manner of citation from the Twelve in the NT documents. More recently, I contributed an essay entitled, “The New Exodus in the Composition of the Twelve,” to a Festschrift in honor of John Sailhamer (Text and Canon: Essays in Honor of John H. Sailhamer [Pickwick]).

2. Who is the intended audience for this commentary? Would it benefit pastors? professors? students? lay Christians in the local church?

The intended audience is anyone who is interested in studying the Book of the Twelve seriously and for its own sake. It is designed to make an original contribution to scholarship, but I believe that it is also accessible to pastors and students who have invested in exegesis in the original languages. There is also something for the local church member who does not mind putting in the hard work that the Scriptures require. The commentary is formatted to be read linearly, so there is no confusion about where to find what within multiple sections on the same passage.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of the Minor Prophets?

This is the first ever single-volume commentary on the Book of the Twelve that argues for a single compositional stratum produced by a single prophetic composer/author. Much work has been done in journal articles and scholarly monographs over the last thirty years that has taken into account the transmission of the Twelve in antiquity as a single work as well as the internal clues to the composition of this work, but this has not found its way into many of the commentaries, in part because these commentaries are generally on sections of the Twelve rather than the whole. This commentary will enable readers to see how the final composer has brought the parts together to function with ongoing relevance as a unified, messianic, and eschatological document.

4. What section or passage of this commentary was particularly memorable to research and write? Why?

The most memorable part of this project will always be the compositional seams that tie together the individual books of the Twelve. The commentary follows three criteria for identification of this compositional activity: (1) distinctive material at the end of one book that connects to similarly distinctive material at the beginning of the next; (2) development of the program of the Twelve set forth in Hosea 3:4–5; and (3) citation from the book of Jeremiah. It is this seam work that provides a superstructure within which to read lower levels of the text.

5. What personally edified you in writing this commentary, increasing your affections for Christ?

I agree with Psalm 1 that the blessed person is the one who “murmurs” (i.e., reads aloud quietly to oneself) in the text of Scripture at all times (Ps. 1:2). In my opinion, the oldest and best way to communicate exegesis of Scripture in its original languages and on its own terms is the translation and commentary format. It allows the Scripture to dictate the agenda. The exegetical process has allowed me to enter a textual world that has a grand vision of Christ and his kingdom, and I will continue to live in that world.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on the Minor Prophets?

James Nogalski’s many publications on the Twelve have been helpful to me from the very beginning. I would also like to recommend Rolf Rendtorff’s The Canonical Hebrew Bible: A Theology of the Old Testament (Deo), Christopher Seitz’s Prophecy and Hermeneutics: Toward a New Introduction to the Prophets (Baker), and O. H. Steck’s The Prophetic Books and Their Theological Witness (Chalice).

7. What is next for you? What project are you currently working on? How can people follow your work and ministry?

I have recently agreed to do the Jeremiah volume in the KEL series, so I will be working on that for the next few years. I am very grateful to the folks at Kregel. I have nothing but good things to say about them.


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