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Israel Among the Nations

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image of Horizons in Biblical Theology

Although Amos' oracles concerning the nations (Amos 1.3-2.16) have been the subject of numerous historical, form-critical, and literary studies, their distinctive theology has so far received relatively little attention. This is the issue that I shall address here. The main theological focus of this article concerns the standing before Yahweh of Israel vis-a-vis the other nations of the world. I shall therefore begin by examining two recent theories about the basis upon which Amos1 considered the foreign nations indicted in chapters 1 and 2 (i.e., excluding Judah and Israel) to be subject to Yahweh's judgements. These theories are: (i) That since these nations are (former) members of an (idealised) Davidic Empire, they are regarded as Yahweh's 'vassals'; and (ii) That there are certain universal standards of human decency which all nations ought to observe. After discussing these theories in sections I and II, I shall then examine the literary structure of Amos 1-2, arguing that this makes an essential contribution to the theology of these chapters.2

Affiliations: 1: Cambridge, England


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