In the last article of this series several notable passages from the Minor Prophets were included, as well as a short discussion about the book and message of the prophet Jonah; but two of the Minor Prophets, Obadiah and Nahum were not mentioned. Suffice it to say that the prophecy of Obadiah deals with a disagreement between Israel and Edom (the descendants of Esau), and Nahum is a prophecy concerning Assyria after its initial repentance under the prophecy of Jonah. Evidently Assyria’s repentance was short-lived, and Nahum called them on that.
During the inter-testamental period, the period of roughly 400 years between the writings of the Old and New Testaments, as our local evangelist J.A. Layman explains, there were few writings produced that dealt with that time period. However, those few that were written provide important information about the events under the Seleucids of Syria and their relationship to Israel and Jerusalem in particular. Layman continues by explaining that the books of the Maccabees, especially 1 and 2 Maccabees, are vital for understanding this time period as they provide information about the Maccabees or Hasmonean Dynasty of priests and who led a series of revolts against the Greeks, of whom the Seleucids were but one of four dynasties after the untimely death of Alexander the Great. Layman further elucidates: one of the greatest imports of these two books is the fact that the prophet Daniel recorded in his book a series of visions concerning the Seleucid Dynasty of Syria and the Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt, the kings of the north and south. Layman laments that the Protestants have chosen to remove these books from the Protestant copies of the Bible and consider them as part of the Apocrypha, effectively relegating them to a place in Protestantism in which few ever read, let alone study them. Taking it one step further, he says that the Jewish historian Josephus provides correlation to the accounts recorded in these two books of the Maccabees, and that any serious Bible student ought to at least read these books for their own edification, even if it is difficult to integrate the material that is contained in them to our Sunday School classes and sermons from the pulpit!
The Gospels contain four variant accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are sometimes referred to as the synoptic gospels for they present basically the same material, although each provides details that are not always included by the others. Layman explains, the Gospel of Matthew seems to have been written with the Jews in mind, to show them how they missed their Messiah. Layman says this is substantiated by the number of references to Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The Gospel of Mark, on the other hand, was written, he says, to the Gentiles because Mark does not concentrate on Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment, and goes to some lengths to explain Jewish customs, something that the Gentiles would have little, if any, knowledge of. Last, the Gospel of Luke identifies the intended recipient of the writing within itself, one Theophilus, an acquaintance of Luke, and needs to be understood as the first in a series of two works, the other being the Acts of the Apostles, written to the same person.
The Gospel of John is considered by most Bible scholars as separate in content and intent from the synoptic gospels. Layman comments that mystics love this gospel for it seems to present the life and ministry of Jesus from a mystical perspective referring to Jesus as “the Word” or “LOGOS” from Platonic philosophy, as one example! “Actually,” Layman says, “John presents Jesus in 21 caracatures, a different one in each chapter. The Thompson Chain Reference Bible contains a short discussion and chart of this in its Text Cyclopedia in the back of its Bibles.”
In our next segment we will consider The Acts of the Apostles, the Pauline Epistles, the General Epistles, the Biblical Soap Operas, and the Wisdom Literature.