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Tragic and Comic Forms in Amos

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image of Biblical Interpretation

The literary distinction between the poetry of Amos and its prophetic update is matched by a difference in the form of the two works. Amos composed a dramatic piece, and its plot structure has the downward movement of tragedy. His commentator changed the tragic poetry into a historical piece, and its narrative structure has the upward movement of comedy. Each narrative movement takes on a definite but contradictory form, and the form structures each literary text as a whole and also shapes its individual components. Understanding the tragic and comic forms in Amos is the way to capture the flow and meaning and interwoven complexities of the whole book. The idea that Amos composed a dramatic monologue or tragic monody for recitation before an audience is supported by the literary evidence and corroborated by the wider cultural background of the Mediterranean world. The comic author, in common with Greek comic writers, commented on the tragic poet and his poetry by way of parody, imitation, quotation and allusion.

Affiliations: 1: Atlantic School of Theology, Halifax, Nova Scotia


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