This study guide to Amos is divided into three parts. The first sets out to describe the genre, style, shape and aim of the text, along with its leading ideas, with the help of recent scholarship on the Hebrew Bible in general and the prophets in particular. Special note is taken of the many images of violence in Amos, along with its denunciations of injustice, and its overwhelming emphasis on the ineluctable destruction awaiting Israel.
The second part sets the book in its historical and social context, with particular focus on the social context of the injustices denounced by Amos. Houston also provides an overview of the various proposals made in the last 50 years for how the book has assumed its present shape.
The final part outlines the ways in which the book has been read over the centuries, with an emphasis on the modern period, in which it has become a rallying call for those concerned with injustice in their own world.