(This is adapted from Known Intimately, Loved Ultimately, Vol. 1 and is available through 21st Century Christian.)
Bad decisions—we’ve all made them. Fortunately most of the ones we make are known only to us and perhaps a few others (hopefully people who love us). Then there are those bad decisions made on the world-wide stage that are impossible to keep quiet. Rather than being quickly forgotten, they become part of history. Here are a few of them in no particular order:
- Decca Records turning down the Beatles,
- Napoleon invading Moscow before winter,
- Twelve publishers rejecting Harry Potter,
- Hitler invading Moscow during winter,
- The Boston Red Sox trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees,
- Russia selling Alaska for 2 cents an acre,
- NASA taping over the moon landing.
You can probably think of some others that belong on that list. I have one more that I’d like to add—changing the way we refer to the books Hosea—Malachi from “The Twelve” to “The Minor Prophets.”
It’s probably just as well that we don’t know who is responsible for doing this (Augustine is commonly cited but there is evidence pointing to the designation existing prior to him). Their anonymity serves them well. (Maybe they’ve entered the mislabeling-the-books-of-the-Bible protection program).
The Twelve (as Israel and the early church referred to them), became known as “minor prophets” solely because the length of their messages is less than that of the “major” prophets” (i.e., Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah/Lamentations, and Daniel). However noble the intentions of this designation might have been, it was not a good decision. Labeling something by its length doesn’t seem like a great idea to begin with, and using the word “minor” inevitably carries with it the connotation that these books are somehow less important. After all, would anyone dare to label the New Testament as the “Minor Testament” because it is shorter in length than the Old Testament?
The Twelve are rich, profound, and challenging in their messages to us. There are anything but minor and we neglect them to our poverty.