Reviews - What do customers think about Amos: A Commentary on the Book of Amos (Hermeneia: a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible)?
Excellent Aug 28, 2006
Hermeneia continues to provide a top-notch critical commentary for the scholastic theologian. I would never recommend Hermeneia for the layperson. This commentary was written for someone with some knowledge of the original languages, and some interest in historical context. It is not light reading; however, Shalom M. Paul is an exquisite writer. His use of the English language is colored with simile and metaphor, which makes this reading a great deal more engaging than similar titles. He truly brings Amos to life with vivid imagery likened to the prophet himself. This is a must have for those who are interested in the best biblical scholarship on Amos.
Learned, current, and respectful of the text Jul 31, 2002
First, a word on Amos -- he may be counted among the "minor" prophets, but his significance is enormous. Amos was the first of the Hebrew prophets to put his message into writing (as far as we know). His message was revolutionary, introducing themes which are standard in the later prophets: e.g., Amos elevates social mores above ritual sacrifices (5:21-25) and transcends the narrow vision his countrymen had of the Lord as the God of Israel only (9:7). Amos's prophecies were fulfilled in a remarkable way. He was particularly remembered for predicting a major earthquake two years in advance (8:8, 1:1); he also seems to have anticipated the rise of the Assyrian empire before there was any clear evidence for it. In sum, Amos is well worth studying either in his own right or as an introduction to prophetic writings in general.
Which brings us to Paul's commentary on Amos. This book is an excellent aid to one's study of the prophet.
Like all the commentators chosen for the Hermenia series, Paul is learned: the book includes a massive bibliography, categorized into numerous areas of inquiry. Because it is a very recent work, Paul is able to take advantage of ongoing advances in scholarship. (Hermenia also publishes an older, standard commentary by Wolff, but decided it was appropriate to provide an update.) Despite Paul's erudition, the commentary is readily intelligible to readers who do not know Hebrew.
Paul is a very clear writer. He summarizes various points of view in the main text but, when he interacts with other scholars in detail, he places that information in footnotes (which are extensive). Thus the reader can follow the exegesis of the text without being unduly distracted by academic minutia, or turn to the footnotes for detailed argumentation where that is desired.
Paul is conservative in his conclusions. Notably, he defends Amos's authorship of various passages which other commentators regard as interpolations: see his excursus on the doxologies in Amos (4:13, 5:8-9, 9:5-6). He also defends the authenticity of the message of hope which concludes the book. (Other commentators believe it was added for comfort only after the people of Israel had been carried off into exile.) Preachers and teachers will particularly appreciate this aspect of Paul's commentary, since their sermons and lessons are based on the text as it is found in the Bible, not on theoretical reconstructions of it.