Digest of terms


not to be confused with popular fortune tellers, prophets are rather conviction--based interpreters and critics of what lies ahead for society in light of its prevalent conduct and inaction. The role may be attributed to individual politicians and media commentators, but historically it is associated with leading figures in religious traditions.

They are perhaps best known and represented by the figures in ancient Israel who challenged the established social and religious order of the day as having lost its theological vision and, because of this, fallen into injustice and hypocrisy. In the Hebrew Bible some 2800 years ago, Amos, Hosea and Isaiah convey the vitality of a prophetic tradition, which continued into Christianity with John the Baptist and Jesus himself, and into Islam with Muhammad. Its force is perhaps most powerfully felt when whole sections are read out loud. The challenge to interpreters of any of these prophets, as to any would be prophets today, is simultaneously to understand society, as it really is, whilst also claiming to know the heart of God. It can be seen in a Martin Luther King, an Elie Wiesel or a Malcolm X.

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