Texte anglais sur la bible

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Classical Prophecy
Prophets in the Ancient Near East
Prophecy in Israel
Prophets and Politics
Words for Prophet in the Bible
Views of Prophecy in Israel and Judah
Prediction and Proclamation
Prophetic Guilds


Prophets in the Bible were not primarily foretellers. Simplyread through the book of Amos at one sitting and you will hear how little Amos is concerned to predict. Most of his "words" are addressed to criticizing present wrongdoing. Injustice, oppression, and rich, even luxurious, worship while the poor starve, are the issues he speaks about most. Where he looks to the future most often it is to warn: if you act like this God's punishment will come. On thepunishment itself his descriptions vary, from seeming to envisage invasion (3:11; 4:10; 5:3; 6:7-14 etc.) through earthquake (8:8) and drought (4:7-8) to God's personal intervention (4:13).

Classical Prophecy
Already in the second century BC the prophetic books had begun to become classical and canonical. In the celebration of heroes of the faith in Ecclesiasticus we find listed in order Isaiah(Sir 48:22-25), Jeremiah (49:6-7), Ezekiel (49:8-9) and the twelve Minor Prophets (49:10). Copies of Isaiah (with text very close indeed to the MT) and commentaries on several biblical prophetic books - Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk - were in use in Qumran before the time of Jesus, as was the phrase "the law and the prophets".

Prophets in the Ancient Near East
Prophets were by no meansunique to Israel. The people of Ebla (north Syria) in the 23rd Century already used the term nabi' and several official letters from the 18th century royal archive of Mari on the Euphrates convey prophetic messages to the ruler, who was away from the city. The behavior of the prophets of Mari was similar to that of Israel's prophets. Once after blaming King Zimri-lim for not being faithful inconsulting the deity the prophet promises

"Then I will make the sheikhs of the Jaminites wriggle in a fish basket and will place them before you."

(Mari text quoted in Koch, 10.)

Both the bold promise on behalf of the god, and the vivid picture language, are like the messages we find in the prophets of the Bible.

Prophecy in Israel
Israel's Historical Traditions tell us of the importanceof prophets to her political life. Remember the story of the institution of the monarchy and the rise to power of Saul, where Samuel plays a major role in the decisions and actions. Samuel was also at the forefront in the appointment of David (1 Sam 8-12; 15-16). Gad is described as "David's seer" (in 2 Sam 24:11 cf. 1 Crone 21:19). However it is Nathan's relationship to his king whichillustrates best the prophet's role: on building the temple (2 Sam 7); the Bathsheba affair (2 Sam 12) and during Adonijah's rebellion when David was old, Nathan's advice and criticism sway the king. Nathan is active too in the moves to anoint Solomon, while his father still lives (1 Kings 1).

These early prophets were consulted about the future. They were thus in conflict with other less personal waysof predicting, such as omens, necromancy and astrology (Dt 18:9-22; cf. 1 Sam 28:3-25, esp. 6). However they were by no means simply fortune tellers. They were powerful to bless or curse, as the story of the Moabite prophet Baalam illustrates (Num 22ff.).

The prophets whose names are attached to books in the Bible: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Micah and the like, stand apparentlyisolated. However, this may well reflect the scarcity of stories about them rather than suggesting that they were individualists. Even Jeremiah, who sometimes stresses his own isolation (e.g. Jer 20:10) had friends and supporters in Jerusalem e.g. the sons of Shaphan (Jer 26:24; 36:10, 25) and Baruch (Jer 36:4).

Certainly prophets were often found in groups in Israel. They lived together (2 Kings...