JoAnna Hoyt – Amos, Jonah, and Micah Evangelical Commentary – Q & A

JoAnna Hoyt exegetical commentaryJoAnna M. Hoyt (Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary) teaches in the Department of Applied Linguistics at Dallas International University and she is Visiting Professor of Old Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary. Please see Dr. Hoyt’s faculty page at Dallas International University and Dallas Theological Seminary.

Dr. Hoyt is also the author of the new Amos, Jonah, and Micah commentary in the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary series. She is also Assistant Editor for the series.

Dr. Hoyt’s research interest and specialization include is Hebrew Linguistics with a focus in Discourse Analysis as well as Hebrew Exegesis.

Recently, she agreed to answer my questions about her new commentary.

1. What previous research and/or personal interests led you to this project and helped prepare you to write this commentary on Amos, Jonah, and Micah?

I absolutely love the Hebrew language and enjoy analyzing the details of the biblical text. Throughout my graduate programs, I was drawn to the exegetical classes where my professors equipped me to approach exegesis with the right tools, and with reverence for the biblical text. So, when I was offered this volume, I was excited to have the opportunity to put my years of training to work as well as my passion for Hebrew and my skill in analyzing details.

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

This commentary, and the series as a whole, is intended for scholars, pastors, and any student of the Bible. Since it does engage with the Hebrew text and the technicalities of it, it is helpful if the reader is familiar with the Hebrew language.

3. What is unique about this commentary? What contribution does it make to studies of Amos, Jonah, and Micah?

This commentary approaches the biblical text from an evangelical perspective and engages with critical biblical scholarship. In addition to incorporating the latest research on these books and the Hebrew language, I also questioned everything about every word. Because of this, there are several proposals in this commentary which are not found in translations or other commentaries. Many of these are fairly minor changes to traditional translations, but the biggest example of this is my proposal that Jonah 4:11 should be read as an indicative statement – not a question.

Another contribution is my approach to the oracles in Micah and Amos. As I was working on those books, I found that reliance upon form criticism to understand and interpret oracle types is lacking in precision. As a result, I went on a research tangent and worked on a basic discourse linguistic approach to prophetic oracles which I use in the commentary to classify oracle types. This ends up having a major effect on the interpretation and the function of two oracles which are often misclassified. (I have continued to work on this since submitting the manuscript and am working on polishing the approach even more so it can be of more help to future research on the prophetic texts.)

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

My work on Jonah 4:11 is, hands down, the most memorable. It was the most difficult section to research and write. I was torn between the evidence I was seeing (that it is a simple statement) and the long line of tradition of reading it as an unmarked interrogative. I value the traditions of the Church, and to stand up and disagree with such a well-known verse’s traditional translation is not to be taken lightly, nor is it for the faint of heart. But in the end, I conclude that it should be read as a statement which communicates that while God relented temporarily, he is still a God of justice, and judgment will come to Nineveh at a future time. I wrestled with every tiny aspect of that research and did not make my decision lightly. (And I lost track of how many times I rewrote that section, as I tried to frame the evidence carefully and accurately.)

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

Writing on these three books provided an immense amount of time to dwell on the theology they communicate. Each of the three reveals the consistency of God’s grace and mercy which is held in tension with his judgment. Amos and Micah proclaimed God’s coming judgment, while at the same time offering the hope of his grace and mercy. And Jonah shows us that same tension with a prophet who did not understand that tension but, instead, wanted to decree how and to whom God gave each. This tension is the same tension we see in the person of Christ. He did not shy away from proclaiming judgment, but he also loudly proclaimed grace and mercy.

One of the clearest places I saw this tension and how it leads to Christ is in the long hope oracle in Micah 4-5. This oracle uses a chiastic structure, and at the peak of that structure, the people are told they must go through their judgment (discipline/exile) but that there is hope on the other side. And in the midst of this oracle’s tension between those two, written for the ancient Israelites, we read prophecies about Christ’s incarnation and what he will do. To see the promise of Christ so intricately intertwined with the hope of the ancient Israelites who were about to go into exile affirms God’s consistency throughout time. When one reads the prophets through the lens of the cross and the empty grave, you cannot help but see the consistency of God, and the work of Christ throughout.

6. Besides your commentary, what are your top recommended books (commentaries or otherwise) on Amos, Jonah, and Micah?

Bruce Waltke’s A Commentary on Micah is excellent. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Jack Sasson’s volume on Jonah in the Anchor Bible Series is great for the technical details. (A commentary that takes nearly four hundred pages to discuss a four-chapter book must be very detailed!) As for Amos, the Anchor volume by F. Andersen and D. N. Freedman is a great resource that I interacted with frequently.

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

The primary project that currently I’m working on is the ZECOT volume on Kings. I’m still in the early stages of this volume, and it is a very different approach than the EEC volumes, which presents a fun new challenge. I’m also working with SIL on a Key Terms of the OT project. In addition, I am in the midst of several research projects on Hebrew discourse structures and features. I’m also an OT editor for the EEC, so I’m in the process of helping some other volumes in this great series make their way to the readers.

As for following my work and ministry, I’m not an avid user of social media, but I will sometimes tweet at @JoAnnaMHoyt. And I do try to keep my faculty page at Dallas International University current.

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