Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hymns in Amos?

I've been reading Amos quite a bit over the last few days. One of the many interesting things about Amos is the way that sometimes he just breaks off from what he was saying and inserts a random bit about God that doesn't necessarily make good grammatical sense.

There's various theories for why it happens - some people think that a later editor just bunged in chunks of a hymn, which is actually a rubbish theory because we've got lots of evidence that if there were later editors, they were pretty skilled, and it doesn't explain why they bunged it there. And if they could explain why those bits of hymn or whatever were put there, there's then no reason why Amos couldn't have done it himself.

Another theory is that Amos is using the idea of divine titularies - sometimes in some other documents from that sort of area and time, there's an interjected bit just reminding people who is speaking - kind of like in the middle of a complex sentence vaguely about the king it would say "the King of Assyria, the one who conquered nations and crushed peoples" or something like that. That's a better idea, because it actually gives a reason why this might have happened.

Another one is linked to it. Sometimes when I'm talking about a topic close to one I'm excited about, I'll just interject a random bit of enthusing into the other stuff I'm saying. I think there may well be some of that going on too. It's about reminding the readers of who God is, which helps them get the surrounding stuff in the correct light. And maybe they used bits of a hymn or something to do that, and maybe they didn't.

I think we should do that more when talking about God...

Anyhow, here are the bits in question:

For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind,
and declares to man what is his thought,
who makes the morning darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!
Amos 4:13, ESV

He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
and turns deep darkness into the morning
and darkens the day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
the LORD is his name; who makes destruction flash forth against the strong,
so that destruction comes upon the fortress.
Amos 5:8-9, ESV

The Lord GOD of hosts,he who touches the earth and it melts,
and all who dwell in it mourn,
and all of it rises like the Nile,
and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt;
who builds his upper chambers in the heavens
and founds his vault upon the earth;
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out upon the surface of the earth—
the LORD is his name.
Amos 9:5-6, ESV

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