5. Step Three: Start with what you know

ScribbleLet us do just that. Take a blank piece of paper or open a new document on your word processor and list everything you already know about the Prophet Amos. Do not use a Bible or any type of reference book and do not use your Internet search engine. At least not yet. Allow yourself five or six minutes for this. Do not try and structure your notes yet; just write a stream of consciousness list of anything and everything that comes to mind about Amos.

Keep this list – you may need it later and it should be submitted as part of your assignment pack.

The question gives you a big hint. It refers to “The Prophet Amos”. So we know that Amos is a prophet. But what is a prophet? This may need developing in your essay, if you have time and space. (Remember, you have not yet been given a word limit so you do not know if you can investigate Biblical prophecy within this essay.) If you do not know that Amos is one of the Twelve Prophets of the Old Testament you have not remembered what we did in Unit One. If this is so, perhaps you should break off at this point and go and review that material once more.

Please do not read on until you have written your list of what you already know about Amos. Of course it may be that Amos is your favourite character in the Bible and that you have taught many classes and preached many sermons on him. If that is the case I have picked the wrong example and you will have to pretend that you do not know everything there is to know before you start. Please wait quietly while the rest of us catch up!

Now you have written your list of facts about Amos you can look at mine. You will find them here: “Steven’s List of Facts”.

So we start with some facts (Amos is a ‘Minor Prophet,’ etc.) and some ideas to check out (is Amos Amoz, etc.) We also have some themes that we could develop if space allows (e.g., the nature of Old Testament prophecy) but only if this helps to answer the question set. Keep checking. I find it helpful to write the essay title on a separate sheet and pin it above my desk so I literally do not loose sight of what I am meant to be doing.

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