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Introduction to Hosea: Literary and Theological Context

Literary Features

Hosea was a master literary craftsman. His prophetic style is so elevated that it is often difficult to distinguish between his prose and poetry. Andersen and Freedman conclude that chapters 1-3 are basically written in prose narrative, while chapters 4-14 are typical of poetry.1 As a rule of thumb such an estimate is largely helpful, but it must be pointed out that “most of the prophets were poets and their oracles were delivered and have been preserved in poetic form.”2 Indeed, “one may expect that all of the major genres with the exception of some types of instructional accounts will take on the heightened speech, literary richness, and urgency of tone and message that so characterized poetry.”3 Nevertheless, it is true that chapters 1-3 due bear marks much more characteristic of prose. For example, these chapters are distinctly more narrative in style and the oracles embedded in them are brought together as clusters within the narrative. The narrative itself is arranged in chiastic structure around the marriage theme (see Outline).

Indeed, the marriage theme is a prominent one not only in chapters 1-3 but in various places in Hosea’s prophecy. For example, God is portrayed as a jealous husband (2:2-13) due to the infidelity of his wife Israel (as symbolized by Gomer). Israel has played the harlot by flirting with pagan idolatry (e.g., 4:10-18; 5:3-4; 6:10; 7:4; 8:4-6, 9; 9:1, 10, 15; 10:5; 11:2, 7; 12:11) as well as in its unwise political alliances and unrighteous social immorality. Yet God is also portrayed as a faithful and loving husband who longs for and is willing to forgive Israel (2:14-3:5; 9:1; 14:4).

The marriage theme is also closely allied to that of the covenant. Even though God had redeemed his people out of Egypt and brought them into covenant relationship with him (11:4; 12:9; 13:4), they have violated that covenant repeatedly (e.g., 6:7; 8:11-14). Israel’s sole hope lay in the fact that God’s covenant loyalty and redemptive love for them remained (2:18-23; 3:1-5; 8:1-14; 13:16).

Due to Israel’s violation of her fidelity to God and his covenant with them, there was need of repentance. Repentance, therefore, becomes a prominent theme in Hosea (e.g., 2:14; 3:5; 5:6; 6:6-7; 7:8-10; 14:4) as well as the need for Israel to practice righteousness (10:12; 12:6; 14:9).

The themes of violation of covenant and need of repentance are closely associated with that of judgment. Judgment oracles make up a great deal of Hosea’s speeches. Thus Hosea condemns Israel’s practice of idolatry (e.g., 3:4; 4:7-13, 15-18; 5:11; 8:4-6; 9:1; 10:5, 8; 11:2, 7; 13:2; 14:8) and denounces the priests who have led the people astray (4:4-9; 5:1; 6:9; 10:5). Likewise Israel’s prophets (4:5; 6:5; 9:7-8; 12:10-13) and leaders from royal house to prominent members of society come in for their share of denunciation (5:1, 10; 7:3-7, 16; 8:4; 9:15; 10:7; 12:7). Accordingly, all society is corrupt is in danger of God’s judgment (4:1-6, 14; 5:4-5; 6:8-10; 7:1-14; 8:1; 9:1-3, 7, 15-17; 10:1-2, 9, 13-14; 11:12; 12:8, 14; 13:1-3, 12-13, 16; 14:1).4

Hosea also uses imagery drawn from the agrarian and animal worlds such as the procedures of sowing and reaping (2:3; 8:7; 10:12, 13), and threshing and harvest (2:6, 8-9, 11, 22-23; 6:11; 9:2). Hosea also speaks of vine, vineyard, and wine (2:9, 12; 9:2, 4, 10; 10:1; 14:7). Other images reflect the animal world. Israel is likened to a stubborn, trained heifer (4:16; 10:11), a wild donkey in heat (8:9-10), or a senseless dove (7:11) in her political alliances. Such unions are sapping her strength and Israel is not realizing it. Indeed, her condition is like that of a person who is growing gray but does not recognize the fact (7:9). Israel is therefore advised and warned that God will deal with them like a ravenous lion (5:14-15) or a stalking leopard or angry bear robbed of its cubs (13:7-8). In a dramatic turn of imagery with regard to a future day a forgiving and loving God is likened to a lion roaring for its young to come to him, while the Israelites are compared to doves or birds returning to their nests (11:10-11).

This underscores the fact that although Hosea’s prophecies display a rich mine of images and literary features (e.g., 6:4; 9:5; 11:8; 12:11; 13:10, 14; 14:9), his most characteristic trait is his frequent employment of metaphor and simile.5 As Johnson observes, “Indeed, a thorough treatment of all of these items would practically amount to a commentary on the whole book.”6 His use of metaphor is indeed striking.7 For example, God is portrayed both as a ferocious lion (5:14) and a healing physician (6:1). He was Israel’s provider during the period of their wilderness wanderings (13:5). Although Israel was God’s heifer trained to do plowing, yet the yoke she must bear is her coming captivity (10:11). God is the divine farmer who will reap a total harvest (= the coming judgment, 6:11). Hosea himself is God’s watchman over Israel, yet his way is made dangerous because of the traps along the pathway of his service laid for him by his adversaries (9:8).

Hosea’s similes are equally bold and well drawn. Thus because of Israel’s unfaithfulness and harlotry, she will be exposed like a newborn infant and her land will become like a desert (2:3). Israel’s failure to heed God’s word is likened to the stubbornness of a heifer (4:16). In her foreign policy she is like a silly dove flitting back and forth to Egypt and Assyria (7:11). Such a policy has made Israel to resemble “a flat cake not turned over” (7:8). Rather than trusting God, Israel has wandered over to Assyria like a wild and willful donkey (8:9). How different her present status than when God first brought her into covenant relationship. Then she showed great promise, for it was like finding grapes in the wilderness or early fruit on a fig tree (9:10). Alas, all that she now values will disappear like a bird flying away (9:11).

Israel is now not only spiritually but morally corrupt. Israelite society is so plagued by legal disputes that it resembles “poisonous weeds in the furrows of a plowed field” (10:11). Spiritually and morally bankrupt, Israel will fall to the Assyrians and her king will be carried away like a twig caught in water’s current (10:7). Israel is facing a swift and imminent judgment. Her sudden disaster is pictured in four similes: morning mist and early dew, which quickly disappears with the heat of the day, chaff blown away from the threshing floor by the wind, and smoke pouring out through a window (13:3).

At times Hosea also portrays Judah’s tenuous condition with picturesque similes. No less than Israel is Judah’s faithfulness to God—it is as short lived as the morning mist and the dew of the dawn (6:4). Moreover, Judah’s land-grabbing leadership is compared to those who seize adjacent property by moving boundary stones (5:10).

Therefore, God will deal with both kingdoms by leaving them to their fate. Rather than preserving his people, his judgment will be like the destructive forces of moth and rotting wood (5:12). As noted previously, God is pictured also in a more active sense. In his superintending judgment God is likened to ravenous and voracious animals (5:14; 13:7-8). Yet in a future day his call to them to return from exile will be like that of a lion roaring for his pride (11:10).

Outline

A man of such literary skill could be expected to write a well-structured product. And such indeed is the case. Two major divisions in the book are recognized by nearly all expositors (chs. 1-3, 4-14). The first division centers upon Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, itself symbolic of God’s relation to Israel. The second contains a collection of prophetic oracles dealing with the infidelity of God’s people and their need of repentance as well as the Lord’s faithfulness and love despite the need for his judgment against his people. An opening superscription (1:1) and a closing subscription (14:9) enclose the entire prophecy.

Thematic and verbal associations are observable in both sections. Thus chapters 1-3 are structured chiastically with a rebuke of Israel’s infidelity forming the center of the chiasmus (2:14-23 [HB 2:16-25]). Chapters 4-14 fall into three distinct subdivisions, each climaxed or concluding with the prophet’s advice to his people followed by statements regarding the Lord’s continuing burden for his people (6:1-7:16; 10:12-11:11; 11:12-14:8 [HB 12:1-14:9]). The first two subdivisions are introduced by imperatives: “Hear the word of the LORD” (4:1); “Sound the alarm” (8:1), while the third subdivision is initiated by a statement of God’s charge against Israel (11:12 [HB 12:1]).8

The resultant outline can be shown as follows:

Superscription (1:1)

I. A portrayal of unfaithful Israel (1:2-3:5)

A. Rejection—Symbolized in Hosea’s marriage (1:2-9)

B. Restoration—On the basis of the covenant (1:10-2:1[HB 2:1-3])

C. Rebuke—Due to Israel’s infidelity (2:2-13 [HB 2:4-15])

B'. Renewal—Based on the covenant (2:14-23 [HB 2:16-25])

A'. Reconciliation—Symbolized by Hosea’s marriage (3:1-5)

II. Perspectives on unfaithful Israel (4:1-14:8)

A. Opening complaints against Israel (4:1-7:16)

1. A threefold indictment (4:1-19)

2. Three guilty parties (5:1-7)

3. A threefold alarm (5:8-15)

4. Prophetic advice (6:1-3)

5. Divine concern for unfaithful Israel (6:4-7:16)

B. Further charges against unfaithful Israel (8:1-11:11)

1. The lesson on the broken covenant (8:1-14)

2. Prophetic reaction: Israel is doomed (9:1-9)

3. The lesson on the unprofitable plants (9:10-17)

4. Prophetic reaction: Israel is a wayward vine (10:1-8)

5. Prophetic advice: Israel is a trained heifer (10:9-15)

6. Divine and Prophetic compassion for Israel (11:1-11)

C. Concluding considerations re unfaithful Israel (11:12-14:8 [HB 12:1-14:9])

1. Her deceitful politics (11:12-12:1 [HB 12:1-2])

2. Prophetic reaction: Israel’s deceitful record (12:2-6 [HB 12:3-7])

3. Her deceitful practices (12:7-11 [HB 12:8-12])

4. Prophetic reaction God’s dealings with deceitful Israel (12:12-14 [HB 12:13-15])

5. Her deceitful pride (13:1-16 [HB 13:1-14:1])

6. Prophetic advice (14:1-3 [HB 14:2-4])

7. Divine consolation (14:4-8 [HB 14:5-9])

Subscription (14:9 [HB 14:10])

Unity

The unity of Hosea has often been questioned. Two matters are particularly prominent. (1) Because the majority of Hosea’s messages are largely condemnatory, some have argued that those prophecies that contain a note of hope (e.g., 1:10-2:1; 2:14-23; 3:5; 11:8-11; 14:4-8) must be a secondary work of a later redactor.9 It should be noted, however, that the assumption that a given prophet cannot produce addresses both of judgment and hope is a mere a priori assumption. Moreover, it is patently false, as a glance at the other prophetic books makes clear. Such a blending of negative and positive prophecies is a common feature in many of the prophets.

(2) Because Hosea wrote primarily to the Northern Kingdom, some have held that those passages that refer to Judah (e.g., 1:7, 11; 3:5; 4:15; 5:5, 10-15; 6:4, 10-11; 8:14; 10:11; 11:12; 12:2) must be later interpolations.10 Thus Emmerson follows J. L. Mays in affirming that “the material in its final form has not been left unchanged by the process of its transmission in Judah.”11 It should be noted, however, that the passages referring to Judah cannot be excised without doing violence to the flow of the text. Furthermore there is little to suggest that the text of Hosea has undergone such a redactional history except the predisposition of scholars to find such a process. Indeed, as Stuart observes, “It makes sense to conclude that both Hosea and his audience would have keen interest in the fate of Judah precisely in contrast to and separate from the fate of Israel.”12

We may add that in addition to the literary skills of Hosea detailed above, it is apparent that the prophet has carefully linked each unit of the second division of his prophecy together by means of demonstrable literary hooks.13 These include both thematic and verbal elements. Thus in the first subdivision (4:1-7:16) each of the individual portions is characterized by “threeness.” Moreover, the opening unit (4:1-19) not only carries forward the themes of prostitution and adultery featured in chapters 1-3, but these themes similarly link it with the following unit, 5:1-7 (cf. 4:10, 14, 15, 18 with 5:3). Chapter 5:1-7 in turn is linked together with 5:8-15 by the subject of the need to seek the Lord (cf. 5:6 with 5:15). This in turn sets the scene for the prophet’s advice in 6:1-3 where the need to seek the Lord is furthered by the challenge to return to the Lord (cf. 5:15 with 6:1). The prophet’s advice in 6:1-3 prepares the way for the oracle featuring God’s concern for his people by means of the thought of the need to acknowledge Yahweh (cf. 6:3 with 6:6).

The first subdivision (4:1-7:16) is structured to the second (8:1-11:11) by means of the thought of praying/crying out to God (cf. 7:14 with 8:2). The lesson concerning covenant breaking in 8:1-14 is then stitched to the prophet’s reaction that follows (9:1-9) by the warning that God’s people could “return to Egypt” (cf. 8:13 with 9:3). This portion is then joined to the lesson on the unprofitable plants (9:10-15) by means of the theme of evil deeds/wickedness (cf. 9:9 with 9:15). The emphasis on plants links both the lessons concerning them (9:10-15) with the prophet’s reaction (10:1-11) that follows by means of the keyword “fruit” (cf. 9:16 with 10:1).14 “Plowing” binds the prophet’s reaction (10:1-11) to his admonition (10:12-15) that follows (cf. 10:11 with 10:12, 13). The second subdivision ends with a statement of the Lord’s compassion, which builds upon the topic of children in the prophet’s advice (cf. 10:14 with 11:1) as well as the thoughts of devastation and destruction due to the people’s wickedness (cf. 10:14-15 with 11:2, 6-7, 9).

The mention of Egypt in the closing verse of the second subdivision (11:11) prepares the way for the third subdivision (11:12-14:8 [HB 12:1-14:9]). The first portion (11:12-12:1) centers on Israel’s deceitful politics. As such it prepares the reader for the prophet’s reaction (12:2-6) that follows via by theme of treaty/covenant (cf. 12:1 with 12:2). The emphasis in the prophet’s reaction on the Lord God Almighty is taken up in the next portion (12:7-11) detailing Israel’s deceitful practices (cf. 12:5-6 with 12:9). This in turn blends into the following prophetic reaction (12:12-14) via the theme concerning prophets (cf. 12:10 with 12:13). The long discussion concerning Israel’s deceitful pride (13:1-16) builds upon the prior mention of Ephraim in the preceding portion (cf. 12:14 with 13:1). The foolishness of the sin of idolatry emphasized in 13:1-16 serves as a springboard for the next portion (14:1-3) recording Hosea’s closing advice (cf. 13:2 with 14:1, 3) as well as the impossibility of anyone but Yahweh to save Israel (cf. 13:10 with 14:3). Both prepare the way for the Lord’s closing consolation in which he urges his people to forsake idolatry (cf. 14:3 with 14:8).

Demonstrably, then, Hosea’s prophecies demonstrate his literary skill, which extends even to their ordering so that each unit prepares the reader for the next. We may safely concur with the conclusion of Garrett: “In short, the Book of Hosea should be treated as a literary unity and not as a pastiche of short sayings and messages redacted by disciples. No text is demonstrably secondary and none should be treated as such.”15

Occasion And Purpose

Because Hosea’s prophecies were delivered over so long a period of time, no one specific occasion may be cited as the controlling reason for the book. A number of events doubtless stimulated Hosea’s various prophetic oracles. For example, his opening proclamation of judgment against the dynasty of Jehu probably reflects some event late in the reign of Jeroboam II, whom he mentions in his opening ascription. For at his death his son Zechariah was assassinated shortly after taking the throne in 752 B.C. As well, in accordance with Jonah’s prophecy concerning Jeroboam’s regaining of territory lost to Assyrian advances (2 Kings 14:25), this too most likely occurred late in the reign of the weak Assyrian king Ashur-dan III (771-754 B.C.). Although it was a time of political strength for Israel, military success only engendered further spiritual apostasy. Amos, who also prophesied in this era, likewise deplored conditions in the Northern Kingdom and warned of imminent disaster to the house of Jeroboam (Amos 7:11).

Although individual scholars have suggested other particular occasions, none can be ascertained with distinct certainty. Nevertheless, granted the progressive nature of Hosea’s prophecies suggested above, one can sense the increasing tension and political crises, which Israel faced, especially as the Neo-Assyrian Empire took root and expanded after the ascension of Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 B.C.) to the throne of Assyria (e.g., 5:8-15; 7:11-12; 8:7-9; 9:1; 10:6-10, 14-15; 11:5-6; 12:1; cf. 2 Kings 15:19-31).16 Sweeney adds that Hosea’s position is “markedly anti-Assyrian as he portrays Israel’s relationship with Assyria as a rejection of YHWH (cf. Hos 8:9; 10:6; 11:5, 11; 12:2 [NRSV 11:12]; 14:4 [NRSV 14:3]).”17 Thus Garrett aptly remarks, “Probably most of Hosea’s extant messages come from the last three decades of Israel’s history.”18 Throughout this period Hosea appears to reflect well the growing moral and spiritual degeneracy in God’s people (e.g., 7:1-7; 10:1-4; 11:7; 12:7-14; 13:1-3). Hosea does not specifically mention the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C., yet the demise of the Northern Kingdom appears to be increasingly imminent in Hosea’s later prophecies.19

Throughout his long ministry Hosea endeavored to communicate God’s message to his wayward people. He warned them of their constant preoccupation with Baalism and growing coolness toward Yahweh. Moreover, their immoral socio-economic policies stemmed from their spiritual abandonment of the Lord. Accordingly, his judgment must surely come. No amount of self-reliance due to economic prosperity and expanded political power due to Jeroboam’s successes could spare them. Nor could reliance on foreign powers save them. Thus Hosea urged his people to realize that what was needed before it was too late was a genuine repentance and return to the Lord in full submission to him. If they would do so, a loving God was ready to forgive and restore them. Indeed, such is his ultimate goal. Unfortunately, without Israel’s drastic and immediate change of direction, such would be accomplished through God’s judgment.

Text And Canonicity

The textual problems in the book of Hosea are many and notoriously difficult. The present status of the problem is explained well in the footnote of the NET Bible, which forms the basis for our study. Stuart, however, notes array of hope: “Frequently the Masoretic consonantal text proves largely correct and must simply be revocalized on the evidence of the Septuagint with regard for the Mosaic covenant vocabulary.”20 Concurring with Stuart’s assurance, one must approach the idea of emending the MT with utmost caution, being careful not to press one’s own interpretation of the passage at hand onto the text itself. As elsewhere in the Hebrew Old Testament, the safest course of action is to prefer the MT, which is well attested in the Qumran texts and has been handed down faithfully in the major Hebrew codices for centuries.21 Thus Würthwein remarks, “Our main interest centers in m. In every instance it deserves special attention because it is based on direct transmission in the original language, and it has been handed down with great care… . Any deviation from it therefore requires justification.”22 In sum, despite the difficulties attendant to the text of Hosea, one may say with confidence that as with the textual criticism of the Hebrew Old Testament in general, “Although variant readings have become obvious through the publication of so many manuscripts, inadequate, inferior, and secondary readings have been largely eliminated. In relatively few places is conjectural emendation necessary.”23 We follow Garrett in concluding regarding the text of Hosea, difficult though it may be at times, “The best approach is to try to stay with the Masoretic text unless compelling reasons present themselves for emending.”24

The canonicity of Hosea has never been questioned. Thus the second century B.C. apocryphal book The Wisdom of Ben Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) notes that there were just twelve Minor Prophets (Sir. 49:10). This was also the decision of others Jewish authorities as Josephus (Contra Apion, 1:7-8) and Philo who “refers to or uses as authoritative all the books of the Jewish canon except Esther, Ezekiel, Daniel, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.”25 The Christian Bishop Melito of Sardis (second century A.D.) received Hosea as canonical, as does the tract Baba Bathra of the Babylonian Talmud (fourth century A.D.).26

Of special interest is the evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. Hosea is cited in ten different manuscripts, in seven of which the exact twelve accepted Minor Prophets are found and with Hosea as the first in the traditional Hebrew order. Moreover, the earliest manuscripts of the Septuagint present the same order for the Minor Prophets with Hosea at the head, as does Jerome’s Latin Vulgate. Among the New Testament writers and personalities, Hosea is cited or alluded to as authoritative by Jesus (cf. Hos. 6:6 with Matt. 9:13; 12:7; Hos. 10:8 with Luke 23:30), by Matthew (cf. Hos. 11:1 with Matt. 2:15), by Paul (cf. Hos. 13:4 with 1 Cor. 15:55), by Paul and Peter (cf. Hos. 1:10; 2:3, 25 with Rom. 9:25-27; 1 Pet. 2:10) and in John’s Apocalypse (cf. Hos. 10:8 with Rev. 6:16)27. Thus there is uniform early witness as to the inspiration and authoritative place of Hosea in the biblical canon.28


Theological Context

Hosea’s theological perspective begins with the opening verses. Israel’s spiritual harlotry will bring God’s certain judgment of exile to the nation (1:1-9). Yet the overriding theological truth is that of God’s love. The Lord’s great unfathomable love will one day result in Israel’s forgiveness and restoration in a new exodus event that will bring his people back home (1:10-11). These themes with deep significance resound throughout the book.

Israel’s sin is termed harlotry and Israel is depicted as a harlot (cf. 1:2 with 2:1-13; 3:1; 4:10-18; 5:4; 6:10; 7:6; 9:1). Her sinfulness is that of infidelity against Yahweh her Redeemer expressed in the worship of idols (4:1, 17-18; 5:7; 8:5-6; 9:10) and the pursuit of sinful practices associated with them (4:14; 9:15; 10:5-6; 12:11; 13:2; 14:8). Because Israel has broken its covenant with God (6:7; 8:1, 11-14; 10:1-3; 12:14; 13:16), God’s judgment must come, for Yahweh is a God of justice (4:19; 5:5, 8-12, 14; 6:4-5; 7:12-16; 8:12-14; 9:3-9, 17; 10:7-10, 14-15; 11:5-6; 13:5-9, 15-16). Moreover, Israel has repeatedly violated the terms of the law. Thus Stuart rightly points out, “Understanding the message of the book of Hosea depends upon understanding the Sinai covenant. The book contains a series of blessings and curses announced for Israel by God through Hosea. Each blessing or curse is based upon a corresponding type in the Mosaic law.”29

As noted under Themes, Hosea has much to say concerning genuine repentance and God’s forgiveness as well (e.g., 2:18-20; 6:1-3; 10:12; 12:6; 14:1-4). Such is based upon the fact that Yahweh is Israel’s only Redeemer. It is he who will one day return a repentant and forgiven people to the land (11:1-4; 12:9; 13:4-6, 14) and initiate a new covenant with them (2:18-23; 3:5). For despite Israel’s propensity to sin, Yahweh is a God of love. His undying faithfulness (11:12) and love for his people will ultimately triumph to his glory and for their good (11:6-11; 14:4-7). Tucked here and there within the book is a hint of God’s means of carrying all of this out—a new leader, a longed-for and needed Messiah (1:10-11; 3:5). For his love is but an aspect of that basic quality among his attributes—his holiness (11:9, 12). Ultimately Israel must realize that there is only one God and they belong to him (2:23; 12:9).

 

 


1 Francis L. Andersen and David Noel Freedman, Hosea, AB (Garden City: Doubleday, 1980), 60-66.

2 David Noel Freedman, Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1980), 18.

3 Richard D. Patterson, “Old Testament Prophecy,” in A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible, eds., Leland Ryken and Tremper Longman III (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 305-306.

4 For the important theme of knowledge in Hosea, see the additional note on 13:5.

5 These and other figures of speech and images will be considered in the Exposition and Notes section.

6 Rick Johnson, “Hosea 4-10: Pictures at an Exhibition,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 36 (1993): 20.

7 See further F. Landy, “In the Wilderness of Speech: Problems of Metaphor in Hosea,” Biblical Interpretation 3 (1995): 35-39

8 It should be noted that the first subdivision is also characterized by the frequent use of imperatives to introduce still smaller subdivisions (e.g., 4:1; 5:1, 8; 6:1).

9 See for example, W. R. Harper, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Amos and Hosea, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1936), clix, clx; W. O. E. Oesterley and T. H. Robinson, An Introduction to the Books of the Old Testament (New York: McMillian, 1937), 349; Grace I. Emmerson, Hosea An Israelite Prophet in Judean Perspective (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1984), 1.

10 See for example, B. S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979), 377-78; H. W. Wolff, Hosea, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1974), xxxi-xxxii.

11 Emmerson, Hosea, 2.

12 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 14.

13 For the practice of literary stitching see U. Cassuto, Biblical and Oriental Studies (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1973), 1:1-6; H. Van Dyke Parunak, “Transitional Techniques in the Bible,” JBL 102 (1983): 540-41; Richard D. Patterson, “Of Bookends, Hinges, and Hooks: Literary Clues to the Arrangement of Jeremiah’s Prophecies,” JWT 51(1989): 109-31.

14 The prophet’s reaction is climaxed by citing God’s own words concerning “plowing and sowing” (10:9-11).

15 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 25.

16 A growing importance of Israelite relations with Egypt can also be seen (e.g., 7:11; 9:1-6; 11:5; 12:1; cf. 2 Kings 17:3-4).

17 Sweeney, Twelve Prophets, 5; see further Laetsch, Minor Prophets, 10-17.

18 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 24.

19 For the suggestion that Hosea may have ministered beyond the time of the fall of the Northern Kingdom, see Thomas Edward McComiskey, “Hosea,” in The Minor Prophets, ed., Thomas Edward McComiskey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1992), 1:3.

20 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 13.

21 For the translation of the existing Qumran manuscripts of Hosea see Martin Abegg, Jr., Peter Flint and Eugene Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (San Francisco: Harper, 1999), 419-32.As for the Minor Prophets, they conclude, “The text is … in the main that of the Masoretic text” (p.418). For a concise history of the text of the Old Testament and the problems relative to the establishment of a pristine Hebrew text, see Emanuel Tov, Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 155-197.

22 Ernst Würthwein, The Text of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), 113. Würthwein does not claim impeccable infallibility for the MT but simply goes on (p.114) to demonstrate that “if a reading of m is rejected, every possible interpretation of it must first have been fully examined.”

23 Mark R. Norton, “Texts and Manuscripts of the Old Testament,” in The Origin of the Bible, ed., Philip Wesley Comfort (Wheaton: Tyndale, 2003), 182. See further the incisive study by Martin Jan Mulder,, “The Transmission of the Biblical Text,” in Mikra, eds., Martin Jan Mulder and Harry Sysling (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2004), 87-135.

24 Garrett, Hosea, Joel, 27. Andersen and Freedman (Hosea, 67) add, “The knowledge of ancient Hebrew gained through epigraphic studies and related disciples has provided new ways of explaining the text without changing it… . As a result, there is less need to alter the text to remove a supposed difficulty.”

25 R. Laird Harris, Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1969), 185. Roger Beckwith (The Old Testament Canon of the New testament Church [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985], 79) points out that Josephus in his Antiquities clearly recognized and accepted the traditional Minor Prophets.

26 For a list of early authorities with regard to the extent of the Old Testament canon, see Paul D. Wegner, The Journey from Texts to Translations (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999), 108-114.

27 Corroborative confirmation comes from Jesus’ and the Apostles’ use of the Old Testament in their debates with their detractors Thus F.F. Bruce (The Canon of Scripture [Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1988], 41-42) observes, “When in debate with Jewish theologians Jesus and the apostles appealed to ‘the scriptures,’ they appealed to an authority which was equally acknowledged by their opponents. This near-unanimity might suggest that some widely acknowledged authority had promulgated a decision on the matter… . as later with the New Testament, so with the Old Testament it is probable that, when the canon was ‘closed’ in due course by competent authority, this simply meant that official recognition was given to the situation already obtaining in the practice of the worshipping community.”

28 For the use of Hosea by the early church, see Alberto Ferreiro, ed., The Twelve Prophets, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 1-56

29 Stuart, Hosea-Jonah, 6-7.