Though most scholars agree that the prophetic books identified as “The Twelve” (or “The Book of The Twelve”) have gone through extensive stages of redaction, debate ensues as to whether they should be read as a literary unity or as a collection of independent prophetic works. A closer look at the framework surrounding this material—the book of Hosea and the book of Malachi—suggests that the primary purpose of the redaction of The Twelve was not to be read as a literary unity or as an anthological collection, but to establish a model of how priestly scribes were to countenance and teach diverse textual corpora in the context of a single, dominant temple establishment. The redactors of the Twelve were probably a Levite scribal group, who created the work to affirm their own status within the hierarchy of the Jerusalem temple in the Late Persian period.
Ehuz Ben Zvi“Is the Twelve Hypothesis Likely from an Ancient Reader’s Perspective?”Two Sides of a Coin: Juxtaposing Views on Interpreting the Book of the Twelve/Twelve Prophetic Books(ed. Thomas Römer; Piscataway 2009) pp. 47-96.
Van der ToornScribal Culture pp. 205-221idem “Mesopotamian prophecy between Immanence and Transcendence: A Comparison of Old Babylonian and Neo-Assyrian Prophecy” Prophecy in its Ancient Near Eastern Context (ed. Martti Nissinen SBLSym; Atlanta 2000) pp. 82-87.
BlenkinsoppJudaism: The First Phase pp. 77-85; David Janzen “The Cries of Jerusalem: Ethnic Cultic Legal and Geographic Boundaries in Ezra-Nehemiah” Unity and Diversity in Ezra-Nehemiah (ed. Mark J. Boda and Paul L. Redditt; Sheffield 2008) pp. 117-135; Peter R. Bedford “Diaspora: Homeland Relations in Ezra-Nehemiah” VT 52 (2002) pp. 147-165.
See the similar position of NogalskiLiterary Precursors pp. 276-277. Ben Zvi notes that “prophetic books did not stand for themselves but as tools for didactic instruction” (“Twelve Hypothesis” p. 81). Ben Zvi sees this taking place in the mind of the elite reader encountering each individual book which is clearly evidenced in the ancient witnesses he discusses. However this does not preclude the didactic function of a broader theme (i.e. Levite mythology and/or socio-religious function) that obtains via the recurrence of cultic rhetoric within a succession of independent prophetic books.