Objective: To recognize what the primary role of biblical prophets was, how they lived it out, and what messages they have for us today.

Biblical prophets are often characterized as foretellers of the future.  While that element frequently was part of their message, it was never the gist of it.  Biblical prophets spoke for God.  It’s that simple.  One of the reasons we see Scripture as inspired is that words spoken centuries ago by prophets to people of their own day frequently resonate in ours.  Meeting the prophets can be an eye-opening experience.

A four-week course would include:

When the Prophets Roared for Justice By Virginia Smith.  N0298

The primary role of a biblical prophet was quite simple: to serve as a mouthpiece for God.  To these frequently beleaguered persons fell the unenviable task of being Israel’s conscience, of reminding the straying Israelites of their covenant obligations, of recalling for a forgetful people the real implications of being God’s chosen people.

Isaiah: One Prophet or Three? By Lawrence Boadt, C.S.P.  N1298

“The Book of Isaiah has greater power than almost any other book of the Bible because it testifies to the enduring will of God to save in every age.  It is no wonder that the New Testament cites Isaiah as the prophetic preparation for Jesus Christ more than any other book in the Old Testament,” Boadt writes.  He explains the stages of development of this magnificent literary and religious document and its importance and impact in our religious tradition.

Jeremiah: Prophet of Tough Love By Daniel Durken, O.S.B.  N0299

“Read and reflect on this prophet of wrath who roars and rages against the corruption and complacency of his age and every age,” Durken says.  “We who are tempted to use the comforting concept of God’s unconditional love as a cover-up for the outrages and atrocities of our times, we need especially to hear and heed his strident statements.”

Ezekiel: Difficult Prophet in Difficult Times By Irene Nowell, O.S.B.  N0700

Called by some “the prophet of the Exile” and by others “the father of modern Judaism,” Ezekiel deserves more respect than he sometimes gets.  That may be due to the apocalyptic writing style of parts of the book.  But life wasn’t easy for Ezekiel.  As Nowell points out, “They [the Chosen People] are in a foreign land.  God seems distant.  They need a dramatic message of hope.”  It falls to Ezekiel to provide it.

Readings from the prophets are especially meaningful during Lent.  To create a five-week Lenten experience, add the following issue:

The Bible’s Human Bridges By Virginia Smith.  N0799

The Bible’s many historical periods were often linked by larger-than-life figures who, like bridges, stood with one foot in the era just ending and the other in the one that lay ahead.  Prophets such as Samuel and Jeremiah acted in that capacity, speaking for God and moving God’s relationship with his people forward.

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Scripture from Scratch Mini-Courses

Catholic Approach to Scripture
Hebrew Scriptures
Morality and Justice
Nature of God