Cat here has proposed studying the Prophets for awhile. I want to continue with Luke meantime, but I hope we can combine both.

Where, how to begin?

The first really traditional prophet I thought of was Samuel, who is also featured in my favorite Biblical books (though not the most edifying.) & then I thought about Moses, who lives that role on a grand scale. In Deuteronomy he’s quoted as saying: ~”When I’m gone, God will send a prophet like me to set you all straight [and you’d better pay attention!]” I’m not clear whether this is supposed to refer to one superlative prophet (Jesus)– or whether it could be taken as a reference to the whole line of prophets, the Israelite institution of prophets striving to keep their rulers in line.

It is unusual, as far as I can gather, for any nation to have a truly independent religious opposition to royal and oligarchic power. Priests may get uppity, but a priesthood is normally content to have prominent, cushy seats at the royal table. Prophets are different. A kingdom can have a whole stable of approved prophets, assigned to produce optimistic prognoses for the king’s favorite new project– and one crazy geek will be out there yelling the truth at the top of his voice; it’s bad luck to kill him; and he wouldn’t dare take a bribe even if he wanted to.

Samuel is atypical, a prophet from before the monarchy, which he reluctantly helps to establish. In his day, there are apparently whole bands of prophets, traveling about in a contagious ecstatic frenzy. Saul, on his way home from visiting Samuel, falls in with such a band, takes off all his clothes, rolls about prophecizing with them.

One wonders about chemical aids… mushrooms, perhaps. Fasting, chanting, other practices. Later prophets were said to pray for a long time with “their heads between their knees” to get into the right kind of spiritual state. But we haven’t been given the details, on how this should be done. Were they given unique gifts?– or were they simply led to make the best use of a widespread human talent?

And what relevance do they have to our time? Messages addressed specifically to later readers? Announcements of God’s long-term objectives? A way of interpreting their times– and ours– in terms of God’s use of events for hidden divine purposes? Can we expect similar outcomes for similar conditions, read “the signs of” these times & extrapolate?


5 responses

  1. Cat C-B, Larry, Forrest, I do look forward to the prophets and Luke too. For now, a little help. Housekeeping. I found an email for Larry only. Not for Cat C-B or Forrest. I felt that Larry might not know me if I emailed him directly and out of the blue. Since none of you know me anyway, I’m posting here in a sort of 50/50 feeling of whether it’s best form to email Larry or instead to post my question here in the open. Maybe you three need to decide this together as a holy triumvate (or, is it triumvirate here?). I know how those monthly meetings can go when just one finicky Quaker holds out! Blogging etiquette is a bit of a jungle. And I’m still learning from my own run through. Please delete this post if you like. Before or after answering. My question is whether it’s your desire to have cross links (I don’t even know what to call them?) if ever I post a response to you over on my own blog as well as posting a response here too? It’s as you wish. If I’m posting responses here (by posting here) and then also by a posting response on my own blog too (somewhat edited), then what should I do on my blog – link or not link to your blog? And what should I do here – note a link to my blog or not note a link to my blog? This may not happen often. But I don’t know how often. For a concrete example, please see don’t know what to do. It’s as you wish,Cheers,Jim

  2. My email address (for sentient-being use only) is treegestaltwhich is at gmail, and this way I don't get a ton of messages about African bank accounts, cute Russian women wanting to meet USian geezers, or pills to make my pecker more of a nuisance.I'll need your email address to invite you, and can't find it on your profile either.(Larry seems to have gone inactive again; I just invited Cat on my own & I haven't worked out arrangements with her re deciding who all gets to play here. Not seeing a problem with anyone who's commented lately, I'm just grateful to see some interesting input again.)

  3. A good beginning in the main introduction. Perhaps Cat C-B has a stirring for where to start? – or some well-worn, or a novel unexplored potential favorite? Samuel is a dear favorite. And the curious note about prophets in/before those times as seers? How well did Eli “see” as Samuel’s mentor and predecessor? Eli is curious because if Eli is not portrayed overtly as tied into royal and oligarchic power (Eli’s era before the era of the kings), then is Eli – and his sons – a foretaste and early example of the kind of oligarchic privilege and cushy seats available by perfunctory service or by manipulating the priesthood for cushy ends? To which Samuel stands in contrast? And Samuel in contrast to Saul who maximizes or amplifies the landed and wealthy privilege taken to a tragic end? Perhaps I fantasize Samuel as more stable and fixed and enduring than Samuel is intended to be seen? – am I romancing my own fantasy of the prophets? Or start with Moses – before Pharaoh was Moses or Aaron the prophet? – is there collaboration, shared burden, mutual feeling in prophetic work? – including these same features of collaboration in the prophet or the many prophets to come after Moses and Aaron? – if prophetic work is shared rather than composed only of individual islands of solo charismatic wild men and women (including crazy ecstatics), then what happens to the shared prophetic burden when Aaron later turns against Moses? – is the prophetic voice broken, divided, at odds with itself? – if so, how is this resolved? With regard to Moses, I like the idea of Jethro as a prophet to Moses – Jethro an outsider (yes I know of the relation by marriage, but still) – Jethro an outsider prophesying to the insider? – how often does prophecy come from the so-called outside? – how global is prophecy? – how universal? – how about the earlier incident involving Abraham (mighty father of un-faith?) where an intense dream from the realm of spectral evidence falls strong and hard upon an ‘outsider’ – “But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, ‘Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married’” (Gen 20:3) – and Abimelech now becomes the better prophet to the lesser prophet, Abraham? What of that? How often does the Spirit of Prophecy give prophecy to an ‘outsider’ to demand that ‘insiders’ fulfill their prophetic niche? – how often does outsider-to-insider prophecy happen in the crazy and multiple axes of prophecy? – do these distinctions make much difference if prophecy is ubiquitous? (continued)

  4. (concluded) Deborah – what about Deborah calling herself – mother – instead of relying on fancy formal high and holy titles and grandiose claims for herself? – a mother? – do mothers prophesy? – and what of this mother’s prophetic blessing of Jael, another woman and outsider, “most blessed of all women in their tents” – what of that? – as prophecy? I’m happy to start in unfamiliar places – sometimes wondering whether naming the animals involved prophecy? – whether God personally acted as first prophet in speaking things into existence? – in predicting the coming of one or many who would crush the serpent’s head? – was the serpent too a prophet? All these texts overlain with the royal and oligarchic mischief of functionary editors along the way. Dare we – do we really want to see the full editorial intrusions or maybe amplifications of the prophetic voice? – what is the meaning of the king editing Jeremiah’s prophecies by throwing Jeremiah’s entire book into the fire? – quite an editorial feat! – and then Jeremiah coming hard back by writing yet a second and bigger book of prophecy? – how tough is prophecy against our many burnings? – what does it mean for Saul to attempt his own editions and redactions of prophecy until the Spirit leaves Saul and Saul knows it not? – that frankly scares me and makes me wonder how close to prophecy I really want to come? Just some ramblings. I’m happy to start anywhere.Perhaps Forrest can bootstrap the two studies – Luke and the Prophets – by seizing especially on Luke’s incorporation and novel uses and possible abuses of the Prophets? – or some such approach?I must confess that I have a vivid and robust charismatic bent to compliment my ancestor ants who behave by complex mathematical vectors of navigation to forage for their manna (not that ants are reading the prophecies of Newton’s “Principia” to get their calculus for predictive prophecies, since they’re ever so much better at the calculus without the formulas) – and I’ve a commitment to daily privacy and quiet prayer and daily listening to Voice and text as much as I too need my peers – though I’d insist that no charismatic be allowed to speak aloud and must instead sit in Quaker silence until memorizing Saint David Hume’s hard-skeptical musings against miracles. Me? – I’m only confused about where I fit in when I try to fit in. When I try to characterize myself – maybe too much prophecy over-determines and squelches the Spirit?Again, all questions … open ramblings … hoping to punctuate my windy and lengthy blathers of this free-wheeling moment with future shorter, terse, short, sweet spots of observation along the Way … Cheers,Jim

  5. Wow! Lots to talk about, & where to begin?I'm not sure David Hume applies, coming from a different worldview than any of the Biblical writers (except maybe "Solomon".) That is, to them a "miracle" is not "a violation of the laws of nature," but "a mighty act of God." It's all one piece, with God (not human experience of the world) at the center.How does a modern "know" that a miracle has taken place? This may be a different question than: 'How does a modern convince himself and (perhaps) others?'Anyway, the story of Samuel & Eli seems to be the first good example of how prophecy came to work in Israel… actually just before Samuel plays any role but altar boy. So let me put that in a post.

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