Judgment on Israel: Amos 3-6 read as a unity
Wilgus, Jason Blair
The last 100 years have seen biblical studies practically dominated by diachronic/historical methodologies, Amos studies have a long tradition of being read within a diachronic framework. The result of this has been an unfortunate fragmentation of the text. Within the last 40 years or so there has been a resurgence of literary studies that treat the text wholistically. Nevertheless, in research that has been done in literary studies a divergence with regard to the structure of the book as well as the function and meaning of some of its units still exists. For this reason it is necessary to approach the problem from a fresh perspective. The purpose of this thesis is to demonstrate the literary unity of Amos 3-6. In my work I show not only the legitimacy, but also the superiority of a synchronic reading of Amos 3-6 when reading the text as a whole. The book of Amos enjoys perhaps the most scholarly interest among all of the twelve prophets, which has resulted in a large body of secondary literature. Within the book of Amos, chapters 3-6 provide a closed unit which contains the major message of the book. For this reason, these four chapters afford a suitable text to apply my reading as well as a platform on which to dialogue with secondary sources. The methodology used in this thesis is a close reading of the present form of the Masoretic Text. A major part of the work is structural analysis. Through the analysis I was able to identify meaningful units that I used for my reading of the text. In this reading I looked at keywords and semantic fields, themes, repetition, parallelism, imagery, speakers and addressees, rhetorical techniques and the overall flow of the text. In my study I have shown how Amos 3-6 should be divided into three independent yet closely related units: Amos 3:1-15; 4:1-13 and 5:1-6:14. Recognition of the structure and craftsmanship of the text draws out the singular message of Amos 3-6; that Israel could no longer avoid Yahweh’s judgment for their oppression of the poor. Even if my main conclusion is similar both to scholars who work in diachronic as well as synchronic studies, my conclusion treats the entirety of Amos 3-6 and concludes that all units within it are vital to the whole and contribute to this message of judgment. My thesis offers a solution to the fragmentary text resultant from diachronic methods as well as a corrective to synchronic readings that inadequately structure the book, resulting in an unsatisfactory overall picture of the structure and meaning of Amos 3-6.