AS IT IS WRITTEN by Patrick Henry Reardon
Amos into Scripture
Most of us are so accustomed to finding the prophetic books included in the Bible that it is perhaps difficult to appreciate the significance of their inclusion. Although the Israelites seem always to have had their prophets—Nathan, Elijah, and so on—literary works of prophecy did not make their appearance until the eighth century before Christ, and their inclusion in the canon of Holy Scripture came later yet.
The sudden emergence of the literary prophets was an extraordinary phenomenon. Although its origins are mysterious, we do know it was tied to the political and social turmoil in the western half of the Fertile Crescent near the middle of the eighth century.
Around 765 B.C.—as though out of nowhere—the shrine at Bethel was suddenly shaken by the voice of Amos, roaring like a lion (Amos 1:2; 3:8; 5:19). Not only was the voice arresting; his words poured forth in eloquent, unrelenting cadences of condemnation. Amos began, "Thus says the Lord, 'For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not relent.'" Then, after naming the sins of the Syrians, the prophet proceeded to list the offenses of the other peoples surrounding the Holy Land: Philistines, Phoenicians, Edomites, Ammonites, and Moabites.
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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