This children’s book introduces three minor biblical prophets—Jonah, Nahum, and Obadiah—in kid-friendly ways.
Minor prophets, Scanlon explains in her debut book, are so called simply because their books in the Bible are shorter than those of the major prophets. Although the author doesn’t explicitly define what prophets are, it’s clear from textual clues that they’re divine messengers (such as a table headed “Messages of the Prophets”). For each figure, Scanlon paraphrases the biblical account in relaxed and often humorous terms that children can understand, drawing them in with questions to help them relate. For example, after describing Jonah’s reluctance to obey God and go to Nineveh, Scanlon adds: “Have you ever been asked to do something you did not want to do?” For readers who wonder why Nahum is asked to bring the same message to the same people a hundred years later, the author provides perspective: “Have you ever been told several times to stop doing something?” She supplies background for the stories, such as God’s covenant with Abraham, to help explain them, and brings out the humanity of these men who lived so long ago, showing that they, too, had failings, like wishing to gloat over another’s punishment. The retellings are accompanied by additional questions to ponder (these sometimes don’t actually go very deep: “Is the book of Obadiah the shortest or longest book in the Old Testament?”), related New Testament verses, prayers, and simple puzzles. Even adults can find it difficult to make sense of episodes like Jacob tricking Esau out of his birthright (described in the chapter on Obadiah), and Scanlon’s explanations can be unsatisfying. The author calls Jacob’s deception “evil,” asserting that the citizens of Nineveh are threatened because they commit wicked deeds. Yet Jacob and his descendants are nevertheless favored above all others. Thoughtful readers may be troubled by what appears to be a bullying deity, but Scanlon’s only explanation is that “God had always decided and will always decide which nation is to be the most powerful.”
Sometimes raises more questions than it answers, but an accessible discussion for young Bible readers.