Analysis of the Structure of Amos -- By: Stephen J. Bramer

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 156:622 (Apr 1999)
Article: Analysis of the Structure of Amos
Author: Stephen J. Bramer

Analysis of the Structure of Amos*

Stephen J. Bramer

The purpose of this article is to evaluate ways in which scholars have seen the overall structure of the Book of Amos, based on various literary forms and kinds of subject matter. Sanderson finds that

the book can be outlined according to form or content. In form, poetic oracles (1:2–6:14) are followed by four first-person vision reports (7:1–9; 8:1–3) surrounding a third-person narrative (7:10–17), which are followed in turn by poetic oracles (8:4–14; 9:7–15) surrounding another first-person vision report (9:1–4). Hymn fragments appear in 4:13; 5:8–9; and 9:5–6. In content, the book opens with oracles against foreign nations, accusing them of a variety of war crimes and climaxing with an oracle against Israel (1:2–2:16). Most of the book is devoted to the evils within Israel and the destruction God will bring as judgment (3:1–9:10), but it concludes with a brief promise of restoration (9:11–15).1

The search for chiasmus or thematic patterning and other literary features is also helpful. Ignoring proposals that involve redactional levels and formation,2 the following are some proposals for the structure of Amos, grouped by the number of divisions into which commentators divide the book.

* This is article two in the three-part series “Studies in the Structure of the Book of Amos.”

Stephen J. Bramer is Associate Professor of Bible Exposition, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas.

Two-Division Structures

Since about half the Book of Amos consists of oracles against the nations and five visions, it is not surprising that these two forms should occupy a prominent place in some writers’ outlines of the book. In fact for some these are the two sections around which the rest of the book is constructed. For instance Weiser identifies a “Book of Visions,” consisting of only the five vision passages (which he says occurred befo...

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