The Prophetic Books are in a class by themselves. They do have historical value where we can learn some history, but not everything was meant to be interpreted literally. Common sense applies to some of this, but this is where many people get confused. The prophets are not easy to understand. They do and say strange things. They use a lot of symbolic language. Sometimes their actions can be symbolic as well as scandalous.
The Prophetic Books are broken up into the four major prophets and the twelve minor prophets. The four major prophets are: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. The twelve minor prophets are: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. There were more prophets than the books that are named. Some of them are talked about in the Bible but do not have a book named after them, like Elijah and Elisha. There are also other prophets in the Jewish history that were not recorded or written. Most bibles translate to English from the ancient Greek language.
Most of the ancient manuscripts of the Bible are in Greek. The oldest manuscripts of the Bible come from the second century AD (after Christ). In fact, the only book in the New Testament that was written in Aramaic, (a derivative of the old Hebrew), is the Gospel of Matthew. By the time the year 400 BC came around, Hebrew fell away as a common language until the Maccabean Revolt when the Greeks were forcing pagan worship on the Jewish people. It then developed into Aramaic by the time Jesus came around. As a side note on languages, the Hebrew language came from the Canaanite language. This could be another interesting conversation in the history of the Bible and God’s people.
At any rate, the Greek language became the universal language for centuries. Even after the Roman Empire was well established, they even used Greek. Since Greek was so accessible to the Jews from all over the world, they tended to use Greek. So most of the Prophetic Books were written in Greek or were quickly translated into Greek.
Even though most of the books are written in Greek, they are still written by Jewish people. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it is so hard to understand and seems so disjointed at times. After we get done with the prophets, I will spend more time on the language of the Bible. Not only is it interesting, but it is important in growing your knowledge of the Bible.