John T. Willis

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Structure and Types of Oracles in Amos

The oracles contained in the Book of Amos are apparently not in chronological order. The great German scholar Hans Walther Wolff reconstructs the history of the Book of Amos in six stages, and the reader can consult his work, Amos the Prophet: The Man and His Background (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1973), pp. 106-113. This or some other reconstruction is important, but it seems to be more fruitful to study the Book of Amos as a book in its present form. Here is one interpretation of the structure of this book.

I. Eight Oracles concerning the Nations. Amos 1-2.
a. Superscription. 1:1.
b. General introduction to the eight oracles. 1:2.
c. Oracle concerning Damascus [Aram; Syria]. 1:3-5.
d. Oracle concerning Philistia. 1:6-8.
e. Oracle concerning Phoenicia. 1:9-10.
f. Oracle concerning Edom. 1:11-12.
g. Oracle concerning Ammon. 1:13-15.
h. Oracle concerning Moab. 2:1-3.
i. Oracle concerning Judah. 2:4-5.
j. Oracle concerning North Israel. 2:6-16.

II. Oracles pertaining to Justice and Righteousness. Amos 3-6.
a. First Oracle beginning with "Hear this word" in 3:1a. 3.
b. Second Oracle beginning with "Hear this word" in 4:1a. 4.
c. Third Oracle beginning with "Hear this word" in 5:1a. 5:1-17.
d. Fourth Oracle beginning with "Woe" or "Alas" in 5:18a. 5:18-27.
e. Fifth Oracle beginning with "Woe" or "Alas" in 6:1a. 6.

III. Five Visions of Amos. Amos 7-9.
a. First Vision: Locusts. 7:1-3.
b. Second Vision: Shower of Fire. 7:4-6.
c. Third Vision: Plumb Line. 7:7-9.
*Dialogue between Amaziah priest of Bethel and Amos. 7:10-17.
d. Fourth Vision: Basket of Summer Fruit. 8:1-3.
*Oracle denouncing the wicked rich in North Israel. 8:4-14.
e. Fifth Vision: Yahweh standing before the altar [of Bethel?]. 9:1-10.
*Hope Oracle. 9:11-15.

We will attempt to deal with each passage as we work through the Book of Amos.

The Book of Amos contains several "types" or "genres" of oracles. Here is an introductory "sketch" of some of the main types or genres of oracles.
1. Oracles concerning the nations. Amos 1-2. [See similar oracles concerning the
nations in Isaiah 13-23; Jeremiah 46-51; Ezekiah 25-32.
2. Questions--Amos 3:3-6.
3. Oracles of Doom--Amos 3:9-15; 4:1-3, 6-13; 8:4-14.
4. Sarcasm--4:4-5.
5. Lament--5:1-17.
6. Woe--5:18-27; 6:1-14.
7. Visions--7:1-9; 8:1-3; 9:1-10.
8. Hope Oracle--9:11-15.

We will delve into each of these genres as we work through the Book of Amos.

What is YOUR "outline" of the Book of Amos? I need YOUR insights. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


Post a Comment

<< Home