The book of Hosea.

Counted among the prophets.

Attributed author(s).

Text(s) available.
On site: Hosea 1-4, 5-7, 8-11, 12-14 (Hebrew only).
CCEL: Hosea (Hebrew only).
Swete LXX (Greek only).
Bible Gateway (English only).
HTML Bible: Hosea 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (Hebrew and English).
HTML Bible: Hosea 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (Latin Vulgate only).
Zhubert (Greek and English).
Kata Pi BHS: Hosea 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (Hebrew and English).
Kata Pi LXX: Hosea 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (Greek and English).
Sacred Texts: Hosea 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 (polyglot).

Useful links.
Hosea at the OT Gateway.
Hosea in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).
Hosea at Kata Pi (Oesterly and Robinson).
Hosea from the Plymouth Brethren.
Introduction to Hosea (David Malick).
Outline of Hosea (David Malick).
A Form-Critical Rereading of Hosea (Marvin A. Sweeney).
Amos and Hosea (Gerald Larue).
Hosea 2: Structure and Interpretation (David J. A. Clines).

The book of Hosea ranks among the latter prophets in the Jewish scriptures.

The book was originally written in Hebrew, but the ancient Greek translation known as the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX) is also a very important witness to the text.

Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).

Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the book of Hosea:

Gene M. Tucker writes: "Both the general period of the prophet's activity and a number of his speeches can be dated with relative certainty. The book's superscription (1:1) locates Hosea in the reigns of certain kings of the eighth century B.C. Moreover, the book contains allusions to international affairs, some of which can be identified with events known from external sources. Other such allusions remain obscure because the names of kings are not given in these cases. Hosea clearly began his work while the dynasty of Jehu was still on the throne, that is, before the death of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.). Consequently, he emerged about 750 B.C. and was active right up to the fall of Samaria in 721 B.C. What seems to be one of his latest speeches (13:16) anticipates but does not attest to the fall of the city at the hands of an Assyrian army." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 707)

J. Alberto Soggin writes: "The superscription (1.1) presents him as a contemporary of Isaiah, but this note does not seem to correspond to reality. In 1.4 his ministry begins under the last king of Jehu's dynasty, that is, at the latest under Zechariah, son of the Jeroboam II who was mentioned in the previous chapter; but 7.7; 8.4; 10.3, 15 show that he will have been a witness of the disorders which followed Zechariah's assassination. In 5.13; 7.11ff.; 8.8f.; 10.5ff.; 12.2 it seems that he knows of the tribute sent to Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria which followed that action. 5.8-6.6 seem to allude to the so-called 'Syro-Ephraimite war' which will concern us when we discuss Isaiah. On another occasion there are mentions of relations with Egypt (7.11; 9.6; 12.2), probably at the time of his namesake (King Hoshea of Israel; although the names are different in English conventional usage, they are the same in Hebrew). However, there is no hint of activity after the fall of the northern kingdom (722-20), so that the period of his ministry is put between the middle of the century and about 725. If Hosea, then, was a contemporary of Isaiah, he was an earlier contemporary, while the names of the later kings will have been added (we do not know why) by the author of the superscription." (Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 248)

Samuel Sandmel writes: "Before considering the historical times in which Hosea lived, we must take note of a related problem. The Book of Hosea contains some verses that deal with the southern kingdom, Judah. Scholars consider these passages to be secondary, that is, additions by a later scribe. As a result of these additions the message, originally meant for the north, became applicable in later times to the south as well. The principal basis for the scholarly view that Hosea's message was addressed only to the northern kingdom is that he mentions by name a good many places in the northern kingdom, but not one place in the southern kingdom. Moreover, in 7:5, where the context is unquestionably the northern kingdom, hosea speaks of its monarch as 'our king.' It is generally held that Hosea is the only literary prophet who was a northerner, and that his background was the growing crisis faced by the northern kingdom shortly after 750 B.C." (The Hebrew Scriptures, p. 71)

Dennis J. McCarthy writes: "The circumstances in which the contents were produced are clear enough. Like almost all of the prophetic books it is a collection of the oracles which the Prophet, speaking for God, delivered orally to warn, teach, and convert the people. The production of the book as a book is another matter. We do not know when and how it was composed. We assume that the process was the same as that for the other prophetic books—the Prophet's audience, especially his close followers and perhaps he himself, noted down his sayings and groups of sayings more or less close upon delivery; the collection of these notes along with memorized sayings of the Prophet into a book was a gradual process. Sayings about a common hope would be gathered into small collections (e.g., chs. 11, 12) that would later be combined with other collections and individual sayings until the book emerged. For Hos, where and how long this process took place are matters for conjecture, although the occasional glosses referring to Judah indicate that part occurred there." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. 1, p. 255)

Jay G. Williams writes: "Another very serious problem of interpretation is raised in Chapters 1-3. Ch. 1:2 reads, 'When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, "Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry, for the land commits great harlotry by forsaking the Lord."' Because of the rather shocking nature of this command, several different interpretations have been given to it. First, numbers of scholars have read this whole section as a non-historical parable of God's love for Israel. According to this theory, Hosea never really married an unfaithful harlot but only used this image of unfaithful love in order to describe Israel's apostasy. Second, some scholars have claimed that Hosea did marry Gomer, but only later did she become a prostitute. Third, others have accepted the story as told, believing that Hosea consciously married a prostitute, probably one who served the cultic purposes of a pagan temple, in order to symbolize graphically the shocking relation between Yahweh and Israel which actually obtained at his time." (Understanding the Old Testament, pp. 235-236)