SCRIPTURE-OTBOOKS Oct-3-2008 (4,470 words) With logo posted Aug. 21 and graphic posted Oct. 3. xxxn
Summaries of Old Testament books in Catholic editions of Bible
By Nancy Hartnagel
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In Catholic editions of the Bible, the Old Testament contains 46 books, divided according to the Pentateuch, or first five books, 16 historical books, seven wisdom books and 18 prophetic books.
Of the 46, seven complete books and parts of two others are not included in Protestant editions of the Bible. Catholics call them deuterocanonical, meaning they form a second or subsequent canon; Protestants call them apocryphal, meaning of doubtful authorship or authenticity. The seven books in full are Tobit, Judith,1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and Baruch; portions of Esther and Daniel are also considered deuterocanonical.
The following summaries of the Old Testament books were condensed from the introductions and texts in the New American Bible, the translation produced by members of the Catholic Biblical Association of America under the patronage of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Chapter and verse references are noted in parentheses. The Scripture readings at U.S. Catholic liturgies are taken from this edition of the Bible.
The first five books are known as the Torah to Jews and the Pentateuch to Christians; they form "the law."
Book of Genesis: 50 chapters; composed from several literary traditions, Genesis describes the beginning of God's covenant relationship with the Jews; four sections: the primeval history of the world, containing some of the Bible's best-known stories, including two poetic versions of creation, Noah's ark and the flood, and the Tower of Babel (1:1-11:26), the story of the patriarch Abraham (11:27-25:18), the story of the patriarchs Isaac and Jacob, including Jacob's theft of Esau's birthright (25:19-36:43), and the story of Joseph and his brothers (37:1-50:26).
Book of Exodus: 40 chapters; focuses on God's covenant and law and the Israelites' liberation through their Exodus from Egypt; four sections: the history of the Israelites in Egypt, including the leadership of Moses and Aaron, the struggle with Pharaoh and the 10 plagues, and the Passover ritual (1:1-12:36), the Israelites' journey from Egypt to Sinai, including the Red Sea crossing, the manna in the desert and the appointment of minor judges (12:37-18:27), the covenant at Mount Sinai, with the Ten Commandments and many other social and religious laws (19:1-24:18), and the construction of the Ark of the Covenant as God's dwelling place, along with detailed descriptions of the sanctuary's appointments and priestly regulations (25:1-40:38).
Book of Leviticus: 27 chapters; consists entirely of regulations God gave Moses in the tent of meeting to help the Israelites remain personally and communally holy; five sections: laws regarding ritual sacrifices and offerings (1:1-7:38), laws regarding priestly ordination, focusing on Aaron and his sons (8:1-10:20), laws on purity, with the establishment of Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement (11:1-16:34), laws on holiness, including prohibitions regarding blood and sex and a listing of holy feasts and times such as the sabbatical and jubilee years (17:1-26:46), and rules on offerings (27:1-34).
Book of Numbers: 36 chapters; covers the period the Israelites wandered in the desert after they left Egypt, focusing on the testing of both the people and their leaders; the book's name comes from the two censuses of the tribes taken at the beginning and end of their journey; three sections: preparations for the journey from Sinai to the Promised Land (Canaan), including the first census and second Passover (1:1-10:10), the journey from Sinai to Moab, including the people's grumbling over hardships, the scouting of Canaan and the story of the bronze serpent (10:11-22:1), and preparations on the Plains of Moab for the conquest of Canaan, including the second census, God's choice of Joshua and God's designation of Israel's boundaries (22:2-36:13).
Book of Deuteronomy: 34 chapters; the book's name means "second law"; on the plains of Moab, before the Israelites can enter the Promised Land, Moses exhorts the people to renew their relationship with God in several major discourses; four sections: Moses' first speech reviewing the history of the Israelites' journey (1:1-4:43), Moses' second speech about God's covenant, including the Ten Commandments (4:44-11:32), Moses' third speech explaining the law (12:1-26:19), and Moses' final words, death and burial, and the selection of Joshua as his successor (27:1-34:12).
In the Jewish tradition some of the books that Christians consider historical are listed with the prophets. The historical books do not provide a chronological history, but look at certain important times and leaders.
Book of Joshua: 24 chapters; Joshua, who leads the Israelites from victory to victory in the Promised Land, is the central figure throughout; three sections: the conquest of Canaan, including the fall of Jericho (1:1-12:24), the division of the conquered land among the 12 tribes of Israel (13:1-21:45), and Joshua's farewell address at Shechem in which he recounts Israel's history and stages a covenant renewal ceremony before dying at age 110 (22:1-24:33).
Book of Judges: 21 chapters; recounts the activities of 12 "judges," military leaders rather than magistrates, who guided the Israelites from the time of Joshua's death to the institution of the monarchy; three sections: the settlement of Palestine and the Israelites' unfaithfulness (1:1-3:6), the stories of the six major judges, including Samson (3:7-16:31), and a collection of other stories about the tribes of Dan and Benjamin (17:1-21:25).
Book of Ruth: four chapters; takes its name from Ruth, a Moabite, who is the daughter-in-law of Naomi, an Israelite widow who leaves Moab for Bethlehem after the death of her husband and sons; shows the universality of salvation and establishes the lineage of King David, the great-grandson of Ruth; two sections: the relationship of Ruth and Naomi (1:1-22), and the meeting and marriage of Ruth and Boaz, a prominent kinsman of Naomi (2:1-4:22).
First Book of Samuel: 31 chapters: the two books of Samuel were originally one book covering three important leaders, the prophet Samuel, King Saul and King David, during about 100 years from the last of Israel's judges through the early years of the monarchy; the first book also deals with the relationship between kings and prophets; three sections: the history of the last judges, Eli and Samuel, including the hymn of Hannah, Samuel's mother (1:1-7:17), the establishment of Israel's monarchy (8:1-12:25), and the kingship, rejection and death of King Saul and the ascendancy of David, including his famous defeat of the Philistine Goliath (13:1-31:13).
Second Book of Samuel: 24 chapters; the second book is mainly the story of King David, whose royal house will produce the Messiah; three sections: the continuing story of David's ascendancy (1:1-2:7), the reign of King David, including God's promise of a Davidic dynasty, David's sin regarding Uriah and Bathsheba, and the rebellion of David's son, Absalom (2:8-20:26), and a compilation of various appendixes regarding David, including his hymn of thanksgiving and last words (21:1-24:25).
First Book of Kings: 22 chapters; originally one book, the two books of Kings cover Jewish monarchs from Solomon, beginning about 970 B.C., to Zedekiah and the beginning of the Babylonian exile in 597 B.C.; the first book focuses on the centrality of the Temple in Jerusalem and God's fidelity; three sections: the 40-year reign of Solomon and the building of the Temple (1:1-11:43), the division into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south, with a listing of their successive kings (12:1-16:34), and stories regarding the prophets Elijah and Elisha (17:1-22:54).
Second Book of Kings: 25 chapters; the second book, which focuses on the consequences of rebelling against God, picks up chronologically from the first; two sections: the ongoing saga of the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, including the fall of the northern kingdom and more stories featuring Elisha (1:1-17:41), and the history of the southern kingdom of Judah until it fell to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 587 B.C. (18:1-25:30).
First Book of Chronicles: 29 chapters; the two books of Chronicles, with the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, likely formed a single work that supplemented the material in Samuel and Kings, but they reinterpret the history of Israel from the time of King Saul to the end of the Babylonian exile in 538 B.C.; the first book highlights David's reign as the ideal and Temple worship as the center of Jewish life; two sections: genealogical tables from Adam through the descendants of Benjamin (1:1-9:34), and the history of King David, focusing on his religious and cultic significance rather than his political influence (9:35-29:30).
Second Book of Chronicles: 36 chapters; the second book focuses on King Solomon's achievements, especially the Temple, and what brought about the Babylonian exile; four sections: the reign of Solomon, including the building and dedication of the Temple (1:1-9:31), the monarchy before King Hezekiah, including invasions from Ethiopia and Edom (10:1-27:9), the reforms of Kings Hezekiah and Josiah and the invasion of King Sennacherib of Assyria (28:1-36:1), and the end of the kingdom of Judah, the Babylonian exile and the beginning of the restoration with the decree of King Cyrus of Persia in 538 B.C. (36:2-23).
Book of Ezra: 10 chapters; takes its name from the priest and scribe Ezra, who, along with Nehemiah, was most responsible for the reorganization of Jewish life, including marriages between Jews and foreigners, after the Babylonian exile; two sections: the first return of exiles from Babylon (1:1-6:22), and the mission of Ezra, focusing on the restoration of the Jewish community, Temple and laws (7:1-10:44).
Book of Nehemiah: 13 chapters; where Ezra was a religious reformer, Nehemiah was a political reformer and lay governor of Judah who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and introduced administrative changes; focuses on obedience to the law which gave Judaism its identity; two sections: the deeds of Nehemiah, including a list of workers and a census of returning exiles (1:1-7:72), and the promulgation of the law, including a renewal of covenant promises and more on the problem of mixed marriages (8:1-13:31).
Book of Tobit: 14 chapters; a deuterocanonical book, this religious novel focuses on Tobit, a wealthy Israelite living among the captives deported to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, in 721 B.C., his trials and tribulations and those of his family; in the person of the fictional Tobit, the book illustrates Jewish piety and the power of prayer, and includes many maxims also found in the wisdom books; seven sections: Tobit's ordeals (1:1-3:6), the plight of Sarah, who became Tobit's daughter-in-law (3:7-17), Tobiah's journey and marriage to Sarah, including a visit from the angel Raphael (4:1-9:6), Tobiah's return and the cure of Tobit's blindness (10:1-11:18), Raphael's revelation of his identity (12:1-22), Tobit's song of praise (13:1-18), and an epilogue containing Tobit's final advice and death (14:1-15).
Book of Judith: 16 chapters; another deuterocanonical book, this is a tract for difficult times, with God, the master of history, delivering the Jews from the Assyrians through the pious widow Judith, who kills the Assyrian general Holofernes; the name Judith means "Jewess"; three sections: the perils the Jews are facing during the Assyrian invasion (1:1-7:32), the deliverance of the Jews through Judith's plan and leadership (8:1-14:10), and the victory over the Assyrians, including Judith's hymn of thanksgiving (14:11-16:25).
Book of Esther: 10 numerical chapters (Hebrew text) plus chapters A-F (Greek text); the supplementary Greek material is considered deuterocanonical; Esther is the cunning and brave Jewish heroine who thwarts a plot in the Persian court to kill on a single day all the Jews living in Persia; explains the origin of the feast of Purim, held to mark the Jews' victory; five sections, noting only chapters: the prologue (A), the elevation of Esther as queen (1-2), the plot of Haman, the grand vizier of Persia, against the Jews (3-5, B-D), the vindication of the Jews (6-10, E), and an epilogue containing the dream of Mordecai, Esther's uncle and adoptive father (F).
First Book of Maccabees: 16 chapters; 1 Maccabees, considered deuterocanonical, recounts the Jewish revolt against the Seleucid kings and pagan influences in the second century B.C.; the revolt was led by the heroic sons of the priest Mattathias, Judas Maccabeus, Jonathan and Simon, and by his grandson, John Hyrcanus; five sections: an introduction on Hellenism in Asia Minor (1:1-9), the Maccabean revolt (1:10-2:70), the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, called "the hammer" (3:1-9:22), the leadership of Jonathan (9:23-12:53), and the leadership of Simon (13:1-16:24).
Second Book of Maccabees: 15 chapters; also deuterocanonical, this book is not a sequel to 1 Maccabees, but covers a 20-year period in the second century B.C.; the author condenses a five-volume work by Jason of Cyrene, and there is overlap with 1 Maccabees, as the book reiterates the importance of the Maccabean revolt and introduces ideas about the afterlife; seven sections: two letters from Judean Jews to Egyptian Jews (1:1-2:18), the author's preface mentioning Jason's work (2:19-32), the attempt by the chief minister Heliodorus to profane the Temple (3:1-40), the desecration of the Temple and persecution of the Jews (4:1-7:42), the victories of Judas Maccabeus and purification of the Temple (8:1-10:8), the renewed persecution of the Jews (10:9-15:36), and an epilogue containing the author's apology (15:37-39).
The wisdom literature is mostly instructional, reflecting the ancient tradition of passing down collected wisdom from one generation to the next, but also includes the poetry of the psalms, mainly devotional lyrics, and the Song of Songs, primarily a nuptial hymn.
Book of Job: 42 chapters; takes its name from Job, a prosperous chieftain whose complete reversal of fortune prompts three cycles of speeches, in the form of an artistic dialogue, debating suffering and innocence; eight sections: background on Job's wealth and piety, including his first two trials (1:1-2:13), the first cycle of speeches featuring Job and his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar (3:1-14:22), the second cycle of speeches (15:1-21:34), the third cycle of speeches (22:1-28:28), Job's final summary of his cause (29:1-31:37), the speeches of the young Elihu defending God's absolute justice (32:1-37:24), the Lord's speech and Job's reply (38:1-42:6), and the restoration of his prosperity (42:7-17).
Book of Psalms: 150 psalms; these hymns, songs and prayers praising and beseeching God were composed for liturgical worship and form one of the most popular Old Testament books; about half the psalms are attributed to King David, though many came from different periods and collections; in the New American Bible, the numbering of the verses follows the Hebrew Psalter; five sections: the first book (psalms 1-41), the second book (psalms 42-72), the third book (psalms 73-89), the fourth book (psalms 90-106), and the fifth book (psalms 107-150).
Book of Proverbs: 31 chapters; an anthology of didactic poetry meant to teach wisdom both to those who are young and inexperienced and those seeking more advanced insights; various sections are ascribed to Solomon, Agur, Lemuel and the anonymous "wise"; eight sections: the value of wisdom, including some proverbs of Solomon (1:1-9:18), the first collection of Solomon's proverbs (10:1-22:16), the sayings of the wise (22:17-24:22), other sayings of the wise (24:23-34), the second collection of Solomon's proverbs (25:1-29:27), the words of Agur, an unknown person from Massa (30:1-6), numerical proverbs (30:7-33), and the words of Lemuel, identified as the king of Massa, including a passage on the ideal wife (31:1-31).
Book of Ecclesiastes: 12 chapters; the author of the book, Qoheleth in Hebrew, is a teacher of popular wisdom whose reflections on life lead to the conclusion that "all things are vanity"; four sections: an introduction (1:1-11), Qoheleth's investigation of life (1:12-6:9), Qoheleth's conclusions (6:10-12:8), and an epilogue (12:9-14).
Song of Songs: eight chapters; on one level, this long poem describes an ideal human love and on a deeper level the mutual love of the Lord and his people; it is attributed to Solomon in the traditional title but its language and style suggest a later time; different voices -- a bride, a chorus of daughters of Jerusalem and a bridegroom -- speak singly and in conversation about love.
Book of Wisdom: 19 chapters; also known as the Wisdom of Solomon, this deuterocanonical book is another compilation of proverbs and sage advice attributed to Solomon, but was written in Greek probably by a Jew living in Alexandria, Egypt, about a hundred years before Christ; three sections: the reward of justice, seen as the key to life and immortality (1:1-6:21), Solomon's praise of wisdom and explanation of how and why he sought wisdom (6:22-11:1), and the special providence of God shown in five examples from the Exodus experience, with a long reflection on idolatry (11:2-19:22).
Book of Sirach: 51 chapters; this deuterocanonical work is the longest of the wisdom books; its Latin name, Ecclesiasticus, means "church book," suggesting its use in teaching catechumens and the faithful; the prologue says that Jesus ben Sira taught this wisdom to boys in Jerusalem and that it was translated into Greek by his grandson around 132 B.C.; four sections: a foreword (no versification), the wisdom of Sirach consisting of duties, conduct and advice (1:1-43:35), praise of Israel's great ancestors (44:1-50:24), and an epilogue and canticles in which the author thanks God and appeals to the unlearned to acquire true wisdom (50:25-51:30).
The prophetic books contain the words of Israel's prophets, chosen by God to receive divine communications and transmit them to the people. This section is comprised of the major and minor prophets, with major and minor referring to length rather than importance; the Book of Lamentations, a series of elegies on the fate of Jerusalem; and the Book of Baruch, the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah, which focuses on the Babylonian exile.
Book of Isaiah: 66 chapters, divided into the Book of Judgment and Book of Consolation, and also by authorship, with Isaiah writing during the Assyrian assaults on Israel and Judah during the second half of the eighth century B.C. (Chapters 1-39), Second or Deutero-Isaiah writing toward the end of the Babylonian exile (Chapters 40-55), and Third or Trito-Isaiah with oracles from a later period (Chapters 56-66); 10 sections: an indictment of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah (1:1-5:30), the Immanuel prophecies and fall of the northern kingdom, including the poetry celebrated in Handel's "Messiah" (6:1-12:6), oracles against the pagan nations (13:1-23:18), the apocalypse of Isaiah (24:1-27:13), the Lord alone as the savior of Israel and Judah (28:1-33:24), the Lord as the avenger of Zion (34:1-35:10), a historical appendix focusing on King Sennacherib of Assyria and King Hezekiah of Judah (36:1-39:8), the Lord's glory in Israel's liberation, including the first "suffering servant" song (40:1-48:22), the expiation of sin and spiritual liberation of Israel, including the other three "suffering servant" songs (49:1-55:13), and the restoration of Zion with the return from Babylon of the first exiles (56:1-66:24).
Book of Jeremiah: 52 chapters; the greatest prophet of the seventh century B.C., Jeremiah supported the reforms of King Josiah and suffered greatly for his repeated warnings about the Jews' return to idolatry and the growing power of Babylon; six sections: oracles in the days of the reform-minded King Josiah and the call of Jeremiah (1:1-6:30), oracles mostly in the days of King Jehoiakim (7:1-20:18), oracles in the last years of Jerusalem, including the oracle of the New Covenant (21:1-33:26), the fall of Jerusalem, including Jeremiah's message to Baruch (34:1-45:5), oracles against the nations, including the first and second prophecies against Babylon (46:1-51:64), and a historical appendix on the capture and destruction of Jerusalem (52:1-34).
Book of Lamentations: five chapters; each chapter is a lament by an eyewitness to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.; the laments express the Jews' grief and humiliation, their torments and miseries at being subjugated and exiled, and their ultimate faith in God's constancy and mercy; the book also uses an interesting literary device: the first four laments, or poems, are acrostics in which the individual stanzas begin with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, from beginning to end.
Book of Baruch: six chapters; this deuterocanonical book, ascribed to Baruch, the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah, contains different compositions, in prose and poetry, Hebrew and Greek, collected around the theme of the Babylonian exile; five sections: a prose prayer of the exiles in Babylon (1:1-3:8), a poem on praise of the wisdom in the law of Moses (3:9-4:4), a poem in which Jerusalem bewails and consoles her captive children (4:5-29), a poem in which Jerusalem is consoled as the Babylonian captivity is about to end (4:30-5:9), and the prose letter of the prophet Jeremiah against idolatry (6:1-72).
Book of Ezekiel: 48 chapters; Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, was both priest and prophet, but his focus on the Temple and liturgy earned him the title "father of Judaism" in postexilic Israel; deported with the exiles in 597 B.C., Ezekiel began prophesying in Babylon, first reproaching Israel for its sins and predicting further devastation, then after the fall of Jerusalem shifting to the promise of salvation in a new covenant; five sections: the call of the prophet (1:1-3:27), before the siege of Jerusalem (4:1-24:27), prophecies against the foreign nations (25:1-32:32), salvation for Israel (33:1-39:29), and a lengthy vision of the new Israel focusing on a new Temple in Jerusalem (40:1-48:35).
Book of Daniel: 14 chapters; considered apocalyptic literature, looking ahead to the Day of the Lord and the end of history; describes the heroic exploits of Daniel, a young Jew taken early to Babylon; the final two chapters are considered deuterocanonical; three sections: Daniel and the kings of Babylon, including the stories of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace and Daniel in the lions' den (1:1-6:29), Daniel's visions of the four beasts, Gabriel and the 70 weeks, and the Hellenistic wars (7:1-12:13), and the appendix, containing the stories of Susanna's virtue and Bel and the dragon (13:1-14:42).
Book of Hosea: 14 chapters; Hosea was a prophet of the northern kingdom in the eighth century B.C. and a contemporary of Isaiah, Amos and Micah; his marriage to the unfaithful Gomer symbolized Israel's infidelity; he began the tradition of describing the relationship between God and Israel in terms of marriage; two sections: the prophet's marriage and its lessons (1:1-3:5), and Israel's guilt and punishment (4:1-14:10).
Book of Joel: four chapters; not much is known about Joel, but his postexilic prophecy contains many apocalyptic images and stresses the Day of the Lord, or day of judgment; the book deals with the land of Judah ravaged by locusts and a call to penance, the Day of the Lord, blessings for God's people and a judgment upon the nations.
Book of Amos: nine chapters; a shepherd of Judah, he prophesied in Israel at the cult center Bethel during the reign of Jeroboam II in the eighth century B.C.; Amos denounces the hollow prosperity of the northern kingdom and calls the people back to the high moral and religious demands of God's revelation; four sections: a judgment of the nations (1:1-2:16), words and woes for Israel (3:1-6:14), the threats and promises of symbolic visions (7:1-9:8b), and an epilogue giving the messianic perspective (9:8c-15).
Book of Obadiah: 21 verses; the shortest and sternest prophecy in the Old Testament; Obadiah, about whom little is known, utters a bitter prophecy against the Edomites, longtime enemies of the Israelites, who committed heinous crimes after being forced to leave their ancient home near the Gulf of Aqaba and settling in southern Judah in the fifth century B.C.
Book of Jonah: four chapters; this postexilic book, probably from the fifth century B.C., tells the fantastical story of Jonah, a disobedient prophet swallowed by a great fish while trying to flee his divine commission; after his rescue, Jonah proceeds to Ninevah, where everyone in the wicked city heeds his message of doom and repents; Jonah and God then have an exchange over Jonah's bitterness about the success of his mission and God's mercy.
Book of Micah: seven chapters; this prophet, from an obscure village in the Judean foothills, denounces the social evils in both Samaria and Jerusalem, the capitals of the divided kingdoms, and points to Israel's restoration through the house of David; the prophet Jeremiah notes that King Hezekiah's reforms were influenced by Micah's prophecy; three sections: the punishment of Israel's sins (1:1-3:12), the new Israel, including the passage quoted in the infancy narrative in the Gospel of Matthew (4:1-5:14), and an admonition (6:1-7:20).
Book of Nahum: three chapters; this oracle about the hated city of Ninevah, the capital of Assyria, was made shortly before Ninevah and the Assyrian empire were destroyed by Babylon; Assyria had been the scourge of the ancient Near East for nearly three centuries, which helps explain Nahum's jubilant tone; two sections: the Lord's coming in judgment of Ninevah (1:1-2:3), and the fall of Ninevah (2:2-3:19).
Book of Habakkuk: three chapters; this oracle, received in a vision by Habakkuk, dates from the years just before Babylon's King Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah in 597 B.C.; the first two chapters are a dialogue in which the prophet complains about the ways of God and God responds; the third chapter is a later liturgical prayer of praise that recalls some of Israel's past glory.
Book of Zephaniah: three chapters; this prophecy, during the reign of King Josiah in the seventh century B.C., condemns the religious degradation of Jews reverting to old idolatries, and focuses on God's impending judgment on the Day of the Lord; three sections: the Day of the Lord as a day of doom, including the lines that inspired the Christian hymn "Dies Irae" (1:1-18), the Day of the Lord as a day of judgment (2:1-15), and a reproach and promise for Jerusalem (3:1-20).
Book of Haggai: two chapters; Haggai, who received his commission to prophesy in 520 B.C., is the first postexilic prophet; his prophecy contains five oracles: a call to rebuild the Temple; the future glory of the new Temple; the unworthiness of a people, possibly the Samaritans, to offer sacrifice in the newly restored Temple; a promise of immediate blessings for the rebuilding of the Temple; and a pledge to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah and a descendant of David, that continues messianic hopes.
Book of Zechariah: 14 chapters; the first eight chapters, dating to 520 B.C., contain the oracles of Zechariah, while the rest of the book is attributed to an unknown author or authors referred to as Deutero-Zechariah; two sections: the prophet's eight symbolic visions, intended to promote the rebuilding of the Temple and encourage the returned exiles (1:1-8:23), and oracles on the restoration of Israel under a Messiah who would be "meek, and riding on an ass," which the Gospel writers all saw fulfilled in Jesus (9:1-14:21).
Book of Malachi: three chapters; Malachi is not a proper name but the Hebrew expression for "my messenger"; this anonymous author, writing around 455 B.C., criticizes the postexilic abuses of the priests and Levites and the indifference of the people to their religious heritage, especially regarding marriage with pagans; this prophecy may have set the stage for the reforms of Ezra and Nehemiah, and the messenger reference in the third chapter was quoted by Jesus in the Gospels as referring to John the Baptist.
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