The first of the literary prophets was . He prophesied in the mid-eighth century when Israel's power was at its zenith after the power of the Syrian empire had waned. Amos appeared seemingly out of nowhere to denounce the royal shrine at as corrupt and idolatrous, declaring:
Amos' sayings are characteristic of the prophetic emphasis on justice as opposed to formalized religion. His verses are among the most quoted in the Bible. They found particular resonance in the American movement and were put to good use to preachers such as the Reverend
The last of the northern prophets was Hosea. His ministry is dated to about 735 A man of deep pathos; he reported that God commanded him to marry an adulterous woman to symbolize God's own feelings of having been betrayed by Israel's love affair with foreign gods. Like Amos, he disparaged formal religion without sincere devotion to God and warned of impending disaster for Israel if it did not repent. It was from Hosea 6:6 that Jesus quoted when he said, "Go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice'" (Mt. 9:13). Tragically, Hosea's warnings of doom proved true when Assyrian forces invaded the Northern Kingdom and its people forced into exile.
Up until this point, the activities of the prophets were preserved in the form of colorful stories with a few sparse quotations from the prophets themselves. Starting with Amos and Hosea, longer sayings of some of the prophets were preserved by scribes, and some prophets contributed to major literary works.