Classics 332: Prophets of the Bible

Nathaniel Greene
Literature, Intermediate
4 credits

What is “prophecy”? What is a “prophet”? For many, the idea of prophecy implies future prediction and divination. While Israelite prophets did occasionally do colorful or bizarre things, their lives and schools of thought were much more nuanced and complex than modern assumptions about prophecy might otherwise suggest. The Prophetic Traditions of the Hebrew Bible represent a vital third of the corpus of Hebrew scriptures. These texts have their origins in a socio-cultural phenomenon of prophetic activity much older than Israel itself, however. This course will examine the prophetic texts of the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, The Book of the Twelve), their cultural roots in the larger ancient Near East (especially Mesopotamia), and the way in which they helped shape the evolution of religious thought in the Eastern Mediterranean—particularly the origins of Christianity and the life of Jesus of Nazareth.