The Structure Of Amos As A Testimony To Its Integrity -- By: Duane A. Garrett

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 27:3 (Sep 1984)
Article: The Structure Of Amos As A Testimony To Its Integrity
Author: Duane A. Garrett


The Structure Of Amos As A
Testimony To Its Integrity

Duane A. Garrett*

Scholars have long recognized the constructions used in Hebrew poetry such as chiasmus and parallelism. In addition to increasing our appreciation of the literature, knowledge of poetic structure can be a valuable tool in the higher criticism of the OT—that is, one may have reason to doubt the authenticity of a line that breaks the flow of a passage, whereas it would be almost impossible to challenge the integrity of an acrostic poem. Likewise, wherever it can be shown that a Hebrew text is carefully (but not artificially) constructed after the patterns of chiasmus or parallelism, the integrity of that text is virtually assured. Two disputed texts in Amos illustrate this principle: 5:10–13 and 8:7–9:15.

I. Amos 5:10-13

Mays in his commentary on Amos says that 5:13 is an addition to the original text of Amos, “a judicious comment of a follower of wisdom.”1 The passage, however, is structured as follows:

(A) 10 They hate the one who rebukes in the gate,

and the one who speaks honestly they abhor.

(B) 11 Therefore, because you tread down upon the poor

and take a grain tax from him,

(C)houses of hewn stone you have built,

but you shall not live in them;

beautiful vineyards you have planted,

but you shall not drink their wine,

12 because I know how many are your rebellions,

and how vast are your sins.

(B’) You oppose the righteous man, you take a bribe,

you turn the poor away from the gate.

(A’) 13 Therefore the wise man is silent at this time,

for it is an evil time.

The chiasmus is clear:

A—the prudent man’s words are hated

B—the wealthy abuse the poor in the gates

C—judgment will befall the wealthy

B’—the wealthy abuse the poor in the gates

A’—the prudent man must keep silent

* Duane Garrett is associate professor of Old Testament at Korea Baptist Seminary in Taejeon.

Therefore the proposal that 5:13 is a later insertion is not only unnecessary but against the evidence, as it is very unlikely that Amos would write an...

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