Prophet, Priest and Plumbline

An Exegetical and Ethical Study of Power in Amos 7

The experience of an American Christian is the experience of power.

No American president, for example, has ever claimed to be an atheist, and nearly a century has passed since William Howard Taft rejected the divinity of Christ.[1] More than 78 percent of Americans self-identify as Christians; a plurality identify as evangelical Protestant.[2]

Likewise, two-thirds of American voters – who are overwhelmingly Christian – say it is at least somewhat important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs, while a significant percentage, 1 in 5, say they would not vote for a candidate whose beliefs differed significantly from theirs.

Aside from data, we can find plenty of anecdotal evidence for the power of Christianity in modern American culture.

In North Carolina, Christian groups vocally supported a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions, with even Billy Graham lending his name to full-page newspaper advertising in the case.[3] In California, the Mormon Church estimated it spent nearly $200,000 in time and other resources campaigning for the passage of Proposition 8, that state’s own gay-marriage ban. The powerful evangelical group Focus on the Family reported giving more than $650,000 in cash and services in support of the amendment.[4] When Christians choose to exercise it, they have considerable power in both the economic and the political systems.

By contrast, the median dollar American churches spend on social services is $1,200 – less than 3 percent of the average congregation’s total budget.[5]

Not surprising, the prophet Amos had much to say about the use of power by those claiming the name of God. After six chapters of oracles condemning the powerful in Israel for their abuse of the needy and voiceless, the tone of the book shifts dramatically in Chapter 7, moving away from the previously dominant poetic style and describing in prose a series of visions and a confrontation.

As Wolff puts it, Chapter 7 is “completely new and different.”[6] On the surface, the narratives provide the only real glimpse into the mind and background of Amos the man and his ministry. Looking deeper, we find that even here, Amos has much to tell us about how we, the powerful, should – and should not – use our position.

EXEGESIS

Introduction to the Passage

Amos 7 provides the bookends of Amos’ ministry. Scholars debate the timing of both the visions and the confrontation narrative, but the simplest answer is to take the text at face value, viewing the first visions as among the earliest Yahweh showed to Amos and the confrontation with Amaziah as the concluding piece of the prophet’s short tenure in the northern kingdom.

Before a more thorough exegesis, a broad overview of the chapter’s structure will help illuminate some of the debates regarding authenticity and literary coherence. I include Amos 8:1-3 because, as I’ll show, it is far more a part of the Chapter 7 narrative than the arbitrary chapter break indicates.

  • 7:1-3 – Vision of the locusts
  • 7:4-6 – Vision of the fire
  • 7:7-8 – Vision of ‘anak
  • 7:9 – Transition
  • 7:10-17 – Confrontation with Amaziah
  • 8:1-3 – Vision of the summer fruit

Amos sees five visions in the last three chapters of his book, three of them in Chapter 7 and one each to open chapters 8 and 9. The first four share a number of literary parallels – enough so that it’s fairly obvious to group them together in two pairs, the second of which is interrupted by the seemingly incongruous confrontation with Amaziah at Bethel. [7]

As with much of the Book of Amos, scholars dispute whether Chapter 7 is authentically the product of the eighth-century prophet to Israel. Coote says the entirety of Amos 7:1-9:15 was added by a Judean redactor, part of his “B stage” of the three-step writing and redaction process for the book.[8]

Coote makes this argument based on references to Isaac and Jacob and the chapter’s focus on Bethel, which he argues is a focus of Judean concern. Andersen and Freedman use the same evidence to argue Amos is prophesying against both kingdoms,[9] while Polley sees the Judaic references as Amos’ argument for Israel to return to worshipping in Jerusalem.[10]

Watts has perhaps the most creative view – that the first three visions are delivered at Bethel, then the next two (8:1-3 and 9:1 ff.) are delivered in Judah after his expulsion.[11] As we’ll see, the references to Jacob can be explained without bringing Judah into it. Coote’s redaction theory is impressive, and it may well be true, but it’s outside the scope of this study.

The First Pair of Visions – 7:1-6

Chapter 7 opens with little fanfare – “This is what the Lord God showed me”[12] – and dives into a vision of locusts. Yahweh is in the process of forming the locusts in the spring after “the late grass” had begun to sprout. Shalom Paul explains why this would be exactly the worst time for a locust plague – before the first spring crops were harvested but after the second had begun sprouting from the ground. It would devastate the entirety of Israel’s food supply. Further, whatever had been harvested was in use by the king, perhaps as fodder for his horses – making the proposed judgment from Yahweh especially alarming.[13] Amos can’t take it and intercedes, but he does so after the locusts have eaten the crops, which indicates this is purely a vision – something about to happen, perhaps already planned out in the councils of Yahweh, but not a plague that has begun on earth.[14]

Likewise in the second vision, Amos sees Yahweh “calling for judgment with fire” (7:4). The fire not only dried up the “great deep,” but it was consuming the land, as well. Andersen and Freedman see the fire as a supernatural destruction,[15] but this doesn’t fit with the natural plague of locusts from the first vision. Jeremias sees instead the use of nearly apocalyptic language as an “intensification” of the judgment – heat and drought so devastating, it dries up the supposed cosmic deep that waters the springs and wells of the land.[16] Wolff agrees with this notion: “The heat of mid-summer is here concretized into streams of fire which consume the primeval waters and hence also the tillable land.”[17]

Again, Amos intercedes. Whereas after the first vision, Amos cries out, “Forgive!” (7:2) this time he merely shouts, “Stop!” (7:5) The subtle shift perhaps indicates some time has elapsed – Amos initially had hopes that Israel will repent, but by the second vision, those ideas have collapsed, and instead Amos simply throws himself and the nation on the mercy of Yahweh. “The second vision largely destroys the hope which was alive in Amos’ first outcry.”[18]

Otherwise, Amos’ pleas are the same; in both, he cites what seems to be an odd reason for Yahweh to relent: “How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” (7:2, 5) Although scholars tend to see this as a call to recognize the powerlessness of the northern kingdom or the plight of the impoverished in the land,[19] Brueggemann is most convincing in connecting the language to law. “Small” or “little,” he argues, is a term reflecting the legal status of a party “totally dependent on another to make a case for them.” By referring to Israel as “Jacob,” Amos is reinforcing the allusion, referring to the younger sibling, who gained power only through usurping his older brother’s.[20] In this case, those with power are not the wealthy rulers of the kingdom, but the shepherd from Tekoa and his God.

In both cases, Yahweh relents. “It won’t take place,” he says of the locusts (7:3), and similarly of the fire, “This also won’t take place” (7:6).

The Second Pair of Visions – 7:7-8; 8:1-3

In the next pair of visions, Yahweh’s approach changes. Rather than give a vision of harrowing disaster, he shows Amos an everyday object and asks him to identify it. The fourth vision – which we won’t discuss in-depth because it’s technically beyond the scope of the assigned passage – involves a bowl of summer fruit. After Amos identifies it, Yahweh reveals a play on words. The word for “fruit” sounds like “end,” and Yahweh declares: “The end has come on my people Israel.”[21]

That vision must help our interpretation of the one immediately preceding because a key piece of the third vision – the object shown to Amos – occurs only in this passage.[22] The word, ‘anak, has traditionally been translated “plumb line,” so that the vision reads this way:

This is what the Lord showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall, with a plumb line in his hand. The Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?”

“A plumb line,” I said. Then the Lord said, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the middle of my people Israel. I will never again forgive them” (7:7-8).

But ‘anak’s closest relative in Akkadian means “tin,” not “lead,” and plumb lines are not made of tin.[23] Whatever the solution, it must not only fit in the palm of a hand, but have to do with walls and be able to be set in the middle of Israel. Several scholars have argued “tin” works as a reference to the weakness of the wall and an allusion to the metal of weaponry.[24] Others reject this argument because Hebrew has a word for “tin” and “sword” if the intent was really to cite those – of course, it also has a word for “lead,” and it doesn’t use that either.[25] Williamson puts it best: “Discussion of the meaning of ‘anak has reached an impasse.”[26]

Scholars in general seem to be asking the wrong thing. The question is not, “What word best fits here?” but rather, “Why did the author pick this obscure word?” Keeping the play-on-words principle in mind, Coote argues the similarity of ‘anak to the Hebrew word for “myself” (anoki) and the ungrammatical form of “you” (-ennak) provides the answer to both questions.[27] The third vision, then, could be Yahweh’s call of Amos: “I am setting you in the midst of my people Israel [to measure them].” He already knows what Amos will find after two times heeding the prophet’s cries for leniency – thus he says, “I will never forgive them again” – but this is the final chance for Israel to show signs of repentance.

The four visions, therefore, detail the limits of Yahweh’s patience. He delays twice, then sends his prophet to measure the lean of the nation. By the fourth vision, Israel’s fate is clear: “The end has come on my people Israel” (8:2).

The Confrontation With Amaziah – 7:9-17

What is the specific impetus for Yahweh’s declaration that “the end has come”? The answer is found in the pericope inserted among these visions. The jarring shift from first- to third-person and back again makes it clear this was an addition to the visions text. Scholars such as Hoffmeier disagree, considering all of 7:1-8:3 to be the unified product of a single author.[28] That takes a good argument too far. It’s one thing to argue the pericope was inserted intentionally and skillfully to provide context for the visions surrounding it, as Wolff does,[29] and Hoffmeier has a good point when he argues the confrontation is “the key to understanding [the visions’] interrelationships,” but the pieces clearly came from separate traditions or texts before being stitched together, probably by Coote’s Judean redactor.

Verse 9 is an oddity in the chapter, as it extends the third vision beyond what the structures of the previous two would indicate. Further, it provides a degree of specificity rare for the Book of Amos, refers to Israel as Isaac, which is unusual, and mentions Jeroboam II by name, the only time Jeroboam is mentioned by name (other than to identify the timeframe of the prophet’s preaching in 1:1).

The detail – destruction of the shrines and holy places and the extermination of Jeroboam’s house – points to a later redactor, Clements argues.[30] Wolff agrees and says the addition of Jeroboam’s house is an attempt to correct the inaccurate prediction concerning the king himself in 7:11.[31] Coote provides the most detail about any possible redactor, arguing he’s a sixth-century Judean concerned about the heresy of worshipping at Bethel, which explains both the specificity and focus of 7:9 and the setting for 7:10-17.[32] The reference to Isaac remains unclear, although Wolff, among others, argues the patriarch’s ties to the southern city of Beersheba further indicates the presence of Judean redactors.[33] This verse seems to work best as a redactor’s addition, a transition between the third vision and the narrative to follow. By raising Jeroboam’s name, it provides a smoother flow into Amaziah’s reporting Amos to the king.

The confrontation itself is sparser than most would like. It raises more questions than it answers: If Amaziah truly believes Amos is a deep enough threat to report him to the king, why does he tell him to leave before he receives word back from Jeroboam? What does Amos mean when he says (literally translated): “I no prophet, I no son of a prophet”? Above all, what happens to Amos after he launches his inflammatory oracle against Amaziah and his family? The text is elusive.

Two controversies have obscured more substantive discussion here:

First, Amaziah calls Amos a “hozeh” in 7:12. Amos replies that he is or was not a “nabi” nor the son of a “nabi.” Both words mean “prophet,” but scholars disagree over what exactly each man meant when he used the word he did.[34]

Second, Amos in denying his role as a “nabi,” does so without verbs, thus meaning he could be denying that he was a prophet until Yahweh called him, or he could be denying that he is a prophet in some way, perhaps rejecting the notion that he’s being paid for his oracles. Regardless, Amos clearly sees himself as a prophet, Amaziah clearly agrees in at least some limited way (he asks him to prophesy in Judah), and I’m not sure these issues are worth all of the ink spilled over them.

In fact, the very sparseness of the passage seems designed to prevent us from getting bogged down in the details.[35] Amaziah is more caricature than character. His role is to provide a more concrete picture of the corrupt religious system against which Amos has been railing for six chapters.[36] A gap between 7:10-11, when Amaziah sends word to Jeroboam, and 7:12-17, when he confronts Amos, is more telling than it seems. The missing piece – Jeroboam’s reaction – and the conspicuous absence of Amos’ fate indicate the high priest rather than the prophet is actually in the spotlight here.[37]

Amaziah’s initial response to Amos is telling. He reports to Jeroboam in starkly political terms a laughably reductive version of Amos’ oracles. He seems unable or unwilling to comprehend his own role in the religious oppression the prophet condemns. Telling, he also quotes the words of Amos, not Yahweh.[38] Then, confronting Amos personally, he tries to deal with the problem by ordering the prophet back to Judah.

The reason for the prohibition on prophecy, however, is particularly enlightening: “For it is the king’s holy place and his royal house (7:13).”  The corrupt monarchy has usurped the cult and extended the injustice, exploitation and oppression into the house of worship.[39] The mingling of church and state makes it that much easier for Amos in his response – in which “both kingship and cultus are attacked together.”[40]

In response to this final rejection of Yahweh’s word, Amos delivers Yahweh’s final rejection of Israel to Amaziah, representing the corrupt power structures of the sclerotic regime. In this way, we need not be too worried about the likely failure of this prophecy to be literally fulfilled (Amaziah, like Jeroboam, could not have been any younger than middle aged at the time of Amos’ ministry, and probably died before Assyria arrived at Bethel’s gates four decades later). As Wolff notes, “Amos specif[ies] in particular for the priest in Bethel a fate which corresponds to that announced for Israel as a whole in the threats of war and deportation.”[41]

The reason for the summer-fruit vision is now abundantly clear: Israel has rejected Yahweh’s prophet. Despite twice interceding for the kingdom, the plumb line confronted the nation’s power structure and found it out of level. “In Amos,” Coote writes, “the drama of spurning the prophet imbues the entire book, providing the rationale for Yahweh’s anger and destruction, as well as the rationale for hope that Yahweh could relent.”[42]

In this way, Chapter 7 is a history of Israel writ small. Despite prophets interceding, cajoling and threatening, it rejected them, and Yahweh’s judgment soon followed. For the Judaic and exilic compilers, they saw in the northern kingdom’s story their own story. As Coote and others argue, the Amos we have is a Judaic one in which the power of the state flexes its muscle against the messengers of God, forcing God to emphasize with whom the power truly belongs.

POWER IN AMOS 7 

For all of the high-stakes conversations taking place at one of the northern kingdom’s most holy locations, it’s not the king, the high priest or the deity who executes the most brazen display of power in Chapter 7. It’s the prophet from Tekoa.

In 7:2, as the vision of the locusts concludes, Amos emphatically objects, as discussed above. He intercedes for the nation. Yahweh did not ask him to speak; he simply did so, understanding the import of the vision he had received. Then, in 7:4, he does it again. Perhaps most remarkable, Yahweh relents.

The passages fit most comfortably with the Jewish traditions of Abraham contending over the fate of Sodom[43] and Moses’ intercession for Israel on Mount Sinai.[44] As a prophet, Amos understands the immense power he wields – literally the power of life and death over the vast majority of the population. Amos’ exercise of this power on behalf of the vulnerable who would be most harmed by Yahweh’s judgment is a stark contrast to his description of the abuses perpetrated by other powerful figures in Israel. While the rich and powerful of the nation exploited the powerless (cf. Amos 2:6-8) and “crush[ed] the head of the poor into the dirt,” Amos – a citizen of Israel’s historical enemy – “passionately suffered with Israel and, in solidarity with the helpless, strove with the Almighty on their behalf.”[45]

In fact, Amos is so effective in his use of power – Andersen and Freedman go so far as to say Yahweh was “taken off guard”[46] – that Yahweh changes the gameplan for the next two visions, reasserting his own power in the situation. Rather than showing Amos a vision of widespread destruction, he disguises the judgment in the form of an everyday object, initiates the conversation and asks a closed-ended question to limit Amos’ ability to break in with another intercession.[47] Polley puts it this way: “Amos cannot intercede [in the second pair of visions] because he did not know what the vision meant until Yahweh told him.”[48]

“Both parties recognized that the agreement to cancel the punishment was only conditional and thus temporary,” Andersen and Freedman write. “Yahweh has reconsidered the situation, and the second time around has rendered an irreversible, permanent judgment.”[49] Amos knows better than to attempt further intercession now that judgment is final. Indeed, his shift from “Forgive!” to “Stop!” in the first two visions shows he recognized Yahweh’s decision had been made. Even so, Yahweh, holding the power over Israel’s fate, gives its leaders a final chance by sending his plumb line into their midst to test their walls, with unfortunate results.[50]

The selfless compassion with which Amos exercises his power and the incredible forbearance with which Yahweh chooses to exercise his contrast with Amaziah’s capricious, almost clueless, use of authority. As an individual, the high priest had the power to alter the nation’s focus in worship and alleviate the suffering of those who came to Bethel every day. As a representative of the kingdom, Amaziah had the power of repentance at his disposal. Instead, he never thought beyond the bureaucracy in which he was enmeshed.[51]

Amaziah thinks he has power over Amos when he reports him to Jeroboam and orders the prophet to leave the kingdom. But Amos turns the tables. Jeremias argues Amos’ response is based on his economic independence – he does not need to prophesy for food, as Amaziah perhaps implies. And when he corrects the high priest by claiming to speak for Yahweh himself, he has the upper hand[52] – only God can confer the authority that truly matters, and he was withdrawing it from the corrupt and oppressive theocratic monarchy. Amaziah unintentionally condemned himself and his king by attempting to exercise power over the prophet who was so powerful he could contend with the Lord of Hosts – and win … twice!

APPLICATION TODAY

Through exegesis and ethical analysis of Amos 7, I have shown that Amos and Yahweh saw power differently than Amaziah and Jeroboam. While the former used their power to save others and advocate for the lifting of oppression from the backs of the powerless, the latter hoarded their power and used it for self-enrichment and perpetuation of their comfort.

Examples from our modern context are easy to find:

• Perhaps this best can be seen in the halls of Washington, where 1 in every 2 of the 535 members of Congress is a millionaire and the median net worth of a Congress member is just under $1 milllion. Not only are the men and women elected to congressional seats invested with a great deal of power by virtue of their election, they have accumulated great wealth. By contrast, the median net worth of all American families is $120,000.

The 10 richest members of Congress have a combined estimated net worth of nearly $3 billion. Perhaps not surprising, all 10 of them voted to enact tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, the benefits of which accrued mostly to the wealthiest Americans.

In the past 20 years, American economic policy has shifted to benefit the wealthy. For the 400 taxpayers with the highest incomes, tax rates dropped by more than one-third while income soared by nearly 400 percent. Since 1979, the richest 1 percent saw their share of American incomes increase by more than 120 percent; the richest 20 percent saw theirs increase by nearly 30 percent. The bottom 80 percent all saw their share of income decrease relative to inflation.[53]

Despite this growing gulf of income inequality – which corresponds with tax reductions for the wealthy, deregulation of the banking and finance industries and diminished influence for groups representing workers – the U.S. House, led by its Republican majority, in 2012 passed a budget that would further reduce taxes for the top 20 percent and increase military spending. To meet those priorities while also reducing the annual deficit, as the House G.O.P. proposes, requires deep cuts elsewhere – to programs and services benefiting the powerless.[54]

Likewise the proposed tax plan of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, would increase the effective tax rate for the bottom 20 percent of income earners while providing thousands of dollars in tax breaks for the top 20 percent and, although understandably vague on the details in this election year, require spending cuts that would effectively decimate social-service programs such as Medicare and Medicaid – the money for which overwhelmingly benefits impoverished children and the elderly.[55] If budgets are moral documents written by those in power, these proposals can only be considered deeply immoral in light of the lessons in the use of power taught by Amos and Yahweh in Amos 7. More galling, the author of the Republican budget, Paul Ryan, has cited his Christian faith in defending the plan.[56]

• Of course, abuses of power can be found on both sides of the aisle; the Democratic Party’s continuing abandonment of the powerless by supporting abortion remains an egregious example.[57]

• In Texas, recent budget decisions have had the effect – whether intended or not – of slashing services, such as public education, used mostly by low-income and minority residents,[58] after legislators rejected up front any measures to raise taxes.[59]

• Within the church, pastors hold tremendous rhetorical and spiritual power over their congregants, yet we have recently seen news stories about pastors urging the physical abuse of young boys who seem too effeminate[60] or the cordoning of gay men and women behind an electrified fence.[61] Amaziah would surely be proud of how well such religious leaders use their power to increase affliction on the hurting and marginalized rather than alleviate it.

What would Amos say about our leaders’ use of power today? On all fronts – political, financial, spiritual – those in charge, including many claiming the name of Yahweh, seem intent on enriching the economically powerful at the expense of the most vulnerable, and on using their religion to bully, disenfranchise and alienate the hurting.

Confronted with such outrages in the person of Amaziah, Amos the plumb-line prophet was unsparing in his assessment, and Yahweh declared his patience at an end. It’s summer in America; is the plumb in our midst? If so, can the fruit be far behind?


[1] David Henry Burton, Taft, Holmes and the 1920s Court: An Appraisal (Cranbury, N.J.: Associated University, 1998), 24.

[2] “Statistics On Religion in America Report – Pew Forum On Religion,” Pew Forum, http://religions.pewforum.org/reports (accessed May 23, 2012). Of all respondents, 26.3 percent identified as evangelical, compared to 23.9 percent Catholic and 18.1 percent mainline Protestant.

[3] Associated Press, “Billy Graham Backs N.C. Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment,” USA Today, May 3, 2012. http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-05-03/billy-graham-gay-marriage/54725250/1 (accessed May 23, 2012).

[4] Associated Press, “More Than $83 Million Spent on Prop 8,” MSNBC, February 2, 2009. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28985504/ns/us_news-life/t/more-million-spent-prop/#.T72SAe2ZNTF (accessed May 23, 2012).

[5] Mark Chaves, Congregations in America (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 2004), 48-50.

[6] Hans Walter Wolff, Joel and Amos, trans. by Waldemar Janzen, S. Dean McBride Jr. and Charles A. Muenchow, ed. by S. Dean McBride Jr. (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977), 294.

[7] Francis I. Andersen and David Noel Freedman, Amos, (New York: Anchor Bible, 1989), 611-12.

[8] Robert B. Coote, Amos Among the Prophets: Composition and Theology (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981), 65.

[9] Andersen and Freedmen, Amos, 633.

[10] Max E. Polley, Amos and the Davidic Empire: A Socio-Historical Approach (New York: Oxford University, 1989), 160.

[11] John D.W. Watts, Vision and Prophecy in Amos (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans), 1958.

[12] All biblical citations are from the Common English Bible.

[13] Shalom M. Paul, Amos, ed. by Frank Moore Cross (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1991), 227.

[14] Polley, Amos and the Davidic Empire, 157, against Andersen and Freedman, Amos, 742.

[15] Andersen and Freedman, Amos, 613.

[16] Jorg Jeremias, The Book of Amos: A Commentary, (OTL; Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 129.

[17] Wolff, Joel and Amos, 298.

[18] Ibid., 303.

[19] Bruce C. Birch, Hosea, Joel and Amos, WBC (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1997), 232.

[20] Walter Brueggemann, “Amos’ Intercessory Formula,” VT 19 No. 4 (1969): 387-88.

[21] Andersen and Freedman, Amos, 794.

[22] Paul, Amos, 233.

[23] H.G.M. Williamson, “The Prophet and the Plumb-Line: a Redaction-Critical Study of Amos vii,” in In Quest of the Past: Studies on Israelite Religion, Literature and Prophetism (ed. A.S. Van der Woude; Leiden, Neth.: E.J. Brill, 1990), 105.

[24] e.g., Paul, Amos, 233-35; Jeremias, The Book of Amos, 131-33; Andersen/Freedman, Amos, 754-59.

[25] Williamson, 105-12, is the best source for all of your plumb-line debate needs.

[26] Ibid, 112.

[27] Coote, Amos Among the Prophets, 92-93.

[28] James K. Hoffmeier, “Once Again the ‘Plumb-Line’ Vision of Amos 7.7:9: An Interpretive Clue from Egypt?” in Boundaries of the Ancient Near Eastern World: A Tribute to Cyrus H. Gordon, ed. Meir Lubetski, Claire Gottlieb and Sharon Keller (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic, 1998), 306-07.

[29] Wolff, Joel and Amos, 295.

[30] Ronald E. Clements, Old Testament Prophecy: From Oracles to Canon (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1996), 25-27.

[31] Wolff, Joel and Amos, 309-10.

[32] Coote, Amos Among the Prophets, 59.

[33] Wolff, Joel and Amos, 301-02.

[34] Cf. Smith, Amos, 239 (n.37 below) for a good rundown of the various positions.

[35] Although that doesn’t stop biblical scholars, as evidenced by Andersen and Freedman’s incredibly complex 11-page restructuring of the passage on pp 781-92.

[36] Paul R. Noble, “Synchronic and Diachronic Approaches to Amos 7-8,” in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 60 (1998): 427.

[37] Gary V. Smith, Amos: A Commentary, (LBI; Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox, 1998), 228.

[38] Ibid., 237.

[39] Birch, Hosea, joel and Amos, 239-40.

[40] Wolff, Joel and Amos, 309.

[41] Ibid., 316.

[42] Coote, Amos Among the Prophets, 61.

[43] Wolff, Joel and Amos, 303.

[44] Polley, Amos and the Davidic Empire, 158-60.

[45] Wolff, Joel and Amos, 302.

[46] Andersen and Freedman, Amos, 627.

[47] Ibid., 615.

[48] Polley, Amos and the Davidic Empire, 157.

[49] Andersen and Freedman, Amos, 627-28.

[50] Wolff, Joel and Amos, 303.

[51] Noble, “Synchronic and Diachronic Approaches,” 428.

[52] Jeremias, The Book of Amos, 140.

[53] Dave Gilson and Carolyn Perot, “It’s the Inequality, Stupid: Eleven Charts That Explain What’s Wrong With America,” Mother Jones, March/April 2011. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/ 2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph (accessed May 23, 2012).

[54] Ezra Klein, “Paul Ryan’s Budget: Should the Poor Pay for Deficit Reduction?” The Washington Post, March 20, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/paul-ryans-budget-should-the-poor-pay-for-deficit-reduction/2011/08/25/gIQAxawWPS_blog.html (accessed May 23, 2012).

[55] Derek Thompson, “Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan is a Moral (and Mathematical) Failure,” The Atlantic, March 2, 2012 http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/03/mitt-romneys-tax-plan-is-a-moral-and-mathematical-failure/253874/ (accessed May 23, 2012).

[56] David Gibson, “Analysis: Paul Ryan’s Not-Very Catholic Catholic Budget,” USA Today, April 26, 2012. http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-04-26/paul-ryan-catholic-budget/54563592/1 (accessed May 23, 2012).

[57] Paul A. Anthony, “Abortion takes center stage at interfaith gathering,” Rocky Mountain News, August 24, 2008. http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/aug/24/abortion-takes-center-stage-interfaith-gathering/ (accessed May 23, 2012).

[58] “For Immediate Release: New Data Reveals Significant Cuts … ,” Children at Risk, March 15, 2012. http://childrenatrisk.org/2012/03/staffingrelease/ (accessed May 23, 2012.

[59] Brad Watson, “Will No Taxes in Texas Just Mean Higher Fees, Charges?” WFAA, January 24, 2011. http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Will-no-tax-increases-in-TExas-just-mean-highers-fees-charges-113639029.html (accessed May 23, 2012).

[60] Bryan Mims and Ken Smith, “Fayetteville Pastor: Telling Parents To Punch Kids Was a Joke,” WRAL, May 3, 2012. http://www.wral.com/news/state/story/11052412/ (accessed May 23, 2012).

[61] “N.C. Pastor: Lock Up Gays, Let Them Die Out,” The News Herald, May 22, 2012. http://www2.morganton.com/news/2012/may/22/nc-pastor-lock-gays-let-them-die-out-ar-2300214/ (accessed May 23 2012).

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