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Major prophets is not a name inherent to the text of the Bible. In fact, most names for every book come from later scholars and readers. The division of manor prophets and minor prophets is fairly intuitive, but would be clearer (though less noble) as wordy prophets and succinct prophets. There was never a time when Jeremiah’s mom and Micah’s mom were at a party and Jeremiah’s mom made a big deal, saying, “it is so wonderful that Micah is a prophet now, though, of course, my son, Jeremiah, is a major prophet. It’s not his fault there aren’t more major prophets…”

The major prophets consist of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Each text is enormous with a lot of textual issues. The Greek Septuagint version of Jeremiah is 1/8 shorter than the Hebrew Masoretic text. It gets more complicated because the Septuagint is from the 2nd Century BC while the Masoretic text is from about a thousand years later. All translation is challenging, but no bit of translation can make up for the difference. What is interesting is that when the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the last century, there were fragments of Jeremiah in Hebrew that matched the Septuagint more than the Masoretic text.

Is one version more right than another? Is the Hebrew more authentic than the Greek? There is one way that we can be tempted to rule in a certain direction. Martin Luther certainly was, but I personally think that it was because Luther’s Hebrew was much better than his Greek.

With Isaiah, most scholars divide the book into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Isaiah due to the language being used and the topics under discussion. 

So there are textual challenges here. If our faith is week, they could be terminal. If our faith is in the integrity of the Bible rather than in the life-giving love of Jesus Christ and the revelation of God found in the Scriptures, it could be terminal. But to read the Bible as Holy Scripture is to see it all as God-breathed, to read God present here in ways beyond our control or mastery. God is present in the Septuagint and in the Masoretic. God is present in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Isaiah. God is present throughout the Prophets. 

The prophets have hard words for the people of Israel and hard words for us today. These books are not easy to read. One of my teachers used to call Isaiah the 5th Gospel. As Christians, Jesus is found throughout the prophets and it is not very hard to read him there. We should seek God not just in the simple and direct texts, but in the challenging and confusing ones. There is fruit to be had for our lives and our faith.