POSTED 24 OCTOBER, 2017
Approximate date: 460s B.C.E. (Right, conservative-moderate, some Left); 400s-100s B.C.E. (some Left)
Time period: instability following the reconstruction of the Second Temple
Author(s): Malachi (Right, some conservative-moderate); an unnamed messenger (some conservative moderate, Left)
Location of prophet/author(s): somewhere in Judah (Right, conservative-moderate, Left)
Target audience and their location: Southern Kingdom Israelites and Jerusalemites
Theological Summary: The name Malachi (Heb. Malaki) means “My messenger.” Some have been tempted to believe that the title of this book is generic, as malaki is rendered in the Greek LXX as angelou autou or “His messenger” (IDB). The prophecies of Malachi appear in the period following the reconstruction of the Temple in 516 B.C.E., and the return of Nehemiah to Persia in 433 B.C.E. (cf. Nehemiah 13:6). When Nehemiah returned, the Jews had fallen back into sins such as breaking the Sabbath, intermarrying with foreigners, and the priesthood was corrupt and not performing its duties ably. These are the same sins condemned by Malachi (1:6-14; 2:14-16; 3:8-11). Many lean toward Malachi and Nehemiah being contemporaries, possibly with Malachi’s prophetic ministry occurring between Nehemiah’s departure to Persia and his return to Jerusalem. Most interpreters point to Malachi being written during the Persian period. Nothing is known in the Biblical record of Malachi, behind this as some kind of name or designation.
No specific date is given in the text of Malachi, yet it is clearly post-exilic, with specific supports for this dating inferred from the text. John Calvin believed that the “messenger” was actually Ezra the Scribe, whereas historically the Church Fathers followed Jewish tradition in ascribing Malachi’s prophecies to a real prophet named Malachi. The debate over the name of Malachi as “my messenger” led some throughout Jewish and Christian history to support a view that this is not a proper name, and that another individual, anonymous or otherwise, was this messenger. Most scholars, conservative or liberal, have maintained some kind of unity for the Book of Malachi. It is notable that Rabbinic tradition attributed that those of the Great Synagogue had the ultimate responsibility for collecting and editing the prophetic books (b.Bava Batra 14b). The Talmud classifies Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi all as three separate Prophets (b.Yoma 9b; b.Sukkah 44a; b.Rosh Hashanah 19b; b.Megillah 3a).
One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.
Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.
A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.