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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Composition.

The present surprising form of the text (it emphasizes judgement, but ends with salvation) has been accounted for by several theories. (1) It reflects Amos's real preaching. His oracles were preserved by disciples; almost everything dates from the eighth century (e.g. Paul 1991 ). (2) An eighth-century stratum of judgement oracles against Samaria has been progressively expanded, particularly by a pro-Judean, anti-Bethel redaction in the seventh century, and an idealistically hopeful redaction in post-exilic times (e.g. Wolff 1977; Coote 1981 ). This is the majority position. (3) Most of the writing was done in the post-exilic period, utilizing earlier (possibly anonymous) poetic collections and traditions; historical and biographical information is not necessarily to be taken at face value (e.g. Davies 1989: 278, 289). Option (1) seems unlikely, given Amos's integration with the Twelve which must belong, finally, to the post-exilic period. Option (2) is plausible, though difficult to establish in detail (e.g. the same verses in 1:3–2:6 have been assigned to different editorial stages by different scholars). Option (3) plausibly emphasizes the creative role of post-exilic editors; but marked differences between individual prophetic books, and circumstantial details (e.g. the description of Amos as nōqēd in 1:1 ) perhaps point to the survival of ancient historical elements. This commentary takes the position that the received text is essentially a post-exilic literary work, produced, in the form in which we have it now, during the Persian or early Hellenistic period (6th–4th cents. BCE); it assumes that there are traces of earlier sources and traditions within ‘the words of Amos’ ( 1:1 ), but is agnostic as to whether, or how much, these can be identified. In what follows, it is assumed that ‘the words’ are understood by the book's author to apply to the whole text.

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