IV. Structure And Outline
There is little agreement as to the overall structure of the book. Many would divide it into two segments: chs. 1-3 and chs. 4-14, but few agree on how to differentiate the content of the two sections. It is tempting to call chs. 1-3 the parable and chs. 4-14 the interpretation. However, ch. 2 is as much interpretation as is anything after ch. 3. From this uncertainty, the points of agreement become even fewer, for the materials in chs. 4-14 show no clear organizing principle. Therefore, the following suggestions should be taken as suggestions only.
Chs. 1-3 may be seen as an introduction, setting the stage for the rest of the book, both by means of Hosea's experience and by means of an explanation of the parallels between Hosea and God. Then chs. 4-14 expand upon the basic points already made. This expansion does not seem to follow any particular order, as noted above. However, there are three points at which offers of restoration seem to coincide with the end of a previous discussion. These occur at 6:1-3; 11:8-11; and 14:1-9. On this basis, it may be possible to subdivide chs. 4-14 into three segments: 4:1-6:3; 6:4-11:11; 11:12-14:9. The first segment dwells on the causes of Israel's sin: the corruption of the leaders; the second details the rebelliousness of Israel; and the third emphasizes their failure to learn the lessons of the past.