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Amos as a Representative Prophet

  I have been discussing the book of Amos, possibly the oldest of the “classical” prophets of the Hebrew Bible, parts of which were probably written in the 8th century, making it, arguably, the oldest book of the Bible.   I have wanted to discuss Amos a bit because his views became the more or less standard perspective of the prophets, and many centuries later it was out of such views that Jewish apocalypticism emerged, the view held by many Jews in the days of Jesus, including, I have argued, Jesus himself.  And so, in one sense, to understand apocalypticism, you have to know where it came from. Here is the final section on Amos in my textbook The Bible:  A Historical and Literary Introduction.   Especially important for what I want to say about apocalypticism is the overview I provide at the end. ****************************************************************** The Judean Redaction of Amos It is impossible, at the end of the day, to know whether Amos himself wrote down these prophecies that bear his name, or if they were penned [...]

2020-04-03T03:56:44-04:00January 12th, 2016|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Public Forum|

The Prophet Amos

In my previous post I started to give some of the background to the rise of Jewish apocalypticism by talking about the views of the classical Hebrew prophets, focusing, by way of illustration, on arguably the earliest, Amos.   Here I continue that discussion:   ************************************************************* The Message of Amos The book of Amos begins by addressing nations outside of Israel, indicating that because of their multiple sins, God would enter into judgment with them (chs. 1-2).  This is an important beginning: it shows that God is not simply the God of Judah and Israel, he is the God of all nations, and holds all people accountable for their actions.  And it shows that national suffering comes not only when one nation mistreats another, but also when God intervenes and rains his judgment down upon them.  And so Amos starts by attacking the capital of Syria, Damascus: Thus says the LORD:  For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.  So [...]

2017-11-16T21:33:25-05:00January 11th, 2016|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Public Forum|

The Prophetic Background of Jewish Apocalyptic Thought

Several members of the blog have asked me to go into greater detail to explain where Jewish apocalypticism came from.  I’m happy to do so: it’s an important topic for understanding Jesus, Paul, and other early Christians. As is true for all religious and political ideologies, the historical background to the rise of apocalyptic thinking is complicated.  To make sense of it, I have to say something about a very different perspective which provided the matrix out of which apocalyptic thought was eventually born and grew: the perspective of the “classical prophets” of the Israelite tradition.  I will spend a couple of posts explaining what the prophets of the Hebrew Bible had to say, focusing on arguably the earliest, Amos (who in many key ways is typical) before explaining how these views came to be transformed and radically altered centuries later into the apocalyptic views held by so many Jews in the days of Jesus. In these posts I will simply reproduce material on the prophets as found in my recent textbook, The Bible: A [...]

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