In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Prophets

  • Introduction
  • Bible Dictionaries
  • Introductions to Hebrew Bible or Old Testament
  • Congresses and Festschriften
  • Surveys
  • Form, Redaction, and Genre Criticism
  • Social Location
  • Bibliography
  • Canon
  • Preexilic and Exilic Prophets
  • Postexilic Prophets
  • Major Prophets
  • Minor Prophets (Book of the Twelve)
  • Theology and Ideology

Biblical Studies Prophets
Stephen Breck Reid
  • LAST REVIEWED: 09 April 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 August 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0051


“Prophets,” “prophecy,” and “prophetic” are the three words that form the core of this research area. Prophets interpret the present in light of a specific type of divination practices. Divination was and is a resource to provide a human client, individual, or group access to divine information about the present and the future. Prophets work within the institution and practices called prophecy. The artifacts left by the prophets are prophetic, whether literature or speech. The material described in this bibliography focuses on the prophetic books. These books are referred to as the Prophets in many circles but sometimes are referred to as the Latter Prophets (Judges through Kings have the designation the Former Prophets.).

Bible Dictionaries

Bible dictionaries and companions often provide introductory material suitable for the advanced undergraduate, ministerial student, or minister. Napier 1962 provides a substantial presentation from the perspective of mid-20th-century scholarship. Koch 2000, Petersen 2002, and Petersen 2009 provide the most extensive essays and bibliographies in this category. Buss 1976, Wilson 1996, and Wilson 1998 provide more brief discussions and bibliographies. Ramlot 1972 provides a thorough presentation with bibliographic data.

  • Buss, Martin J. “Prophecy in Ancient Israel.” In Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible: Supplementary Volume. Edited by Lloyd Richard Bailey, Victor Paul Furnish, and Emory Stevens Bucke, 694–697. Nashville: Abingdon, 1976.

    Buss provides a form-critical examination of the topic with particular attention to sociological and anthropological readings of prophetic literature. Short essay with bibliography.

  • Koch, Klaus. “Propheten/Prophetie II: In Israel und seiner Umwelt.” In Theologische Realenzyklopädie. Vol. 27.3. Edited by Claus-Jürgen Thornton, 477–499. Studienausgabe 2. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2000.

    Koch gives an extensive treatment of the phenomenon of prophecy as a type of religious sociology. He outlines the development of the phenomenon and its literary witness. There is also an extensive bibliography.

  • Napier, B. D. “Prophet, Prophetism.” In Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible. Vol. 3. Edited by George Arthur Buttrick, 896–919. Nashville: Abingdon, 1962.

    This substantial essay with short bibliography provides an apt snapshot of American research on the topic during the middle of the 20th century. This material is provided for the advanced undergraduate, seminarian, or minister. However, the continuing consensus reconstructions in this article will be found in the more recent essays.

  • Petersen, David L. “Introduction to Prophetic Literature.” In New Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 6. CD-ROM. Nashville: Abingdon, 2002.

    This substantial essay covers definitions and origins of prophecy as well as the diverse roles, historical settings, and growth of prophetic literature.

  • Petersen, David L. “Prophet, Prophecy.” In New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Vol. 4. Edited by Katherine Doob Sakenfeld, 622–648. Nashville: Abingdon, 2009.

    Petersen provides a guide for the advanced undergraduate, seminarian, or minister. Substantial essay with a short bibliography.

  • Ramlot, L. “Prophétisme.” In Supplément au Dictionnaire de la Bible. Vol. 8. Edited by Henri Cazelles and André Feuillet, 811–1222. Paris: Letouzey & Ané, 1972.

    Ramlot gives a description of the phenomenon of prophecy in Egyptian Mesopotamia, Canaan, and elsewhere and its cultural, theological, and literary manifestations in ancient Israel and Judea. Bibliographic resources are also provided.

  • Wilson, Robert R. “Prophet.” In HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Rev. ed. Edited by Paul J. Achtemeier and Roger Boraas, 884–889. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996.

    Wilson summarizes the issues in a short essay with a short bibliography. This is most helpful for the general reader, providing a more accessible version of the Cambridge Companion to the Bible (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

  • Wilson, Robert R. “The Prophetic Books.” In The Cambridge Companion to Biblical Interpretation. Edited by John Barton, 212–225. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

    DOI: 10.1017/CCOL0521481449

    Wilson gives this topic a more substantial treatment than that provided in the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary (Wilson 1996).

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.