The Problem with Prophets

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On January 26, Noah Crabtree will give the sixth talk in the series “It’s Complicated: The Histories Behind What We Think We Know.”

The great prophetic figures of the Hebrew Bible often garner comparison to Martin Luther King, Jr., and other heroes of social reform. This correlation has its roots in the work of nineteenth-century biblical scholars, who envisioned these “classical prophets” as leaders of a radical movement that completely revolutionized traditional conceptions of religion. Among other social, cultural, and religious breakthroughs, these prophets were seen as the innovators of ethical monotheism who laid the groundwork for the teachings of Christianity. This talk will explore the intellectual currents in nineteenth-century academia that gave rise to this longstanding consensus view of “classical prophecy” and explain how prophetic texts discovered in archaeological excavations in Syria and Iraq have lead in recent years to a wholesale reappraisal of the role of prophets in Israelite religion.

Noah Crabtree is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Gutenberg College (2010) and an M.A. in Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (summa cum laude, 2015).

This class may be attended in person at Gutenberg College or online via Zoom.

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