Zephaniah 1:1—Hasn’t it been demonstrated that Zephaniah is actually composed of two books with different messages?

Problem: Conservative scholars maintain that the Book of Zephaniah is a single work composed by the prophet Zephaniah. However, modern scholarship claims that the book is actually two books with different messages put together as if it were one. The very beginning of this book is a message of dread and coming judgment. The overriding theme is the devastation and destruction that is about to fall in the swiftly approaching Day of the Lord (1:7, 8, 10, 14–15, etc.) However, verses 8–13 of chapter 3 present a message of hope that seems completely out of keeping with the theme of the book as a whole. How can this book be considered the sole work of one person, Zephaniah?

Solution: There is no reason to suppose that the messages of judgment and hope are incompatible. In fact, it is the message of the Book of Zephaniah that the coming judgment of the Day of the Lord is the very means by which God would bring about the ultimate restoration of His people. The Day of the Lord is a day of purification from sin and salvation of the remnant. The hope of salvation in the midst of judgment, is found as early as 2:1–3 and 3:8–9, clearly pointing out that it is this purifying judgment that will prepare the way for the restoration of God’s people. Zephaniah is a single unified work by the prophet Zephaniah.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.