Composition of the Book of Amos


Approximate date: 760-750 B.C.E. (Right, conservative-moderate); 587-539 B.C.E. (Left)

Time period: judgment upon Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom during a time of intense prosperity and opulence

Author: Amos and/or a close associate (Right, conservative-moderate); Amos and anonymous others (Left)

Location of prophet/author(s): Bethel (Right, conservative-moderate); somewhere in the Land of Israel (Left)

Target audience and location: primarily Northern Kingdom Israelites, but also Southern Kingdom Israelites

Theological Summary: Even though Amos (Heb. Amos) is listed in the Hebrew book order as the third of the Twelve Prophets, he was likely the first chronologically. Amos was from Tekoa (1:1), a small town just south of Bethlehem. He was not from a priestly family, but instead earned his living from the flock and a sycamore fig-grove (1:1; 7:14-15). It is unknown whether he was the owner or just a worker, and today some scholarship leans toward Amos being some kind of a civil servant involved in their maintenance. Regardless of which he was, he certainly witnessed the hardships of many such workers.

Amos was certainly not an ignorant peasant, given his skilled words that indicate he was well informed of the issues of his day, notably the great prosperity of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Amos probably did the bulk of his prophesying in Bethel (7:10-13; cf. 1 Kings 12:28-30), at the location of one of the Northern Kingdom’s primary worship centers. Consequently, most of Amos’ prophecies concern the Northern Kingdom, although there are warnings issued to the Southern Kingdom.

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages