Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won’t come again
And don’t speak too soon
For the wheel’s still in spin
And there’s no telling who that it’s naming
For the loser now will be later to win
Cause the times they are a-changing
We have spoken several times in class about what a prophet is in the biblical sense. The modern notion, it seems, is to think of a prophet as one who foretells the future. My best teacher, Dr. S. Robert Weaver, emphasized, time and again, that a biblical prophet was not so much a foreteller as a “forthteller.” In his fine book,Reading Dante, Yale Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta agrees and expounds on that idea:
. . . do not make the mistake of thinking for a moment that prophets are those who foretell the future, as that’s not really their role. In fact, Dante later goes out of his way . . . to highlight the differences between prophets and diviners. The diviners are those who predict the future, while the prophets are literally readers of the present . . . The prophets are, in a way, commentators. . .
Given that definition – which Mazzotta says first applies to the biblical, Old Testament-type prophets – let’s look again at Eugene Peterson’s translation of the words of Micah, one of those commentators who knew God, who was actually inspired by the Spirit of God, and who, thus, is recorded in the Biblical Canon, as he dresses down the chattering classes of his own day:
The sun has set on the prophets
They’ve had their day; from now on it’s night
Visionaries will be all confused
experts will be all mixed up
They’ll hide behind their reputations and make excuses
to cover up their ignorance of God.
Do these words ring true to those of us who have followed the “news” and the pundits in the past few months?