As It Is Written . . .
The Many Storied Prophets
by Patrick Henry Reardon
It is easy to detect, over the course of biblical history, significant changes in Israel's interest in the prophets. The most significant change, I suppose, comes with the emergence of literary prophecy in the eighth century. In the previous century, Israel's interest in the prophets was especially expressed in narrative form; major sections of the books of Kings are taken up with stories of Micaiah, Elijah, and Elisha. Although rather little of the teaching of these men is preserved in the Sacred Text, many pages are devoted to stories about them. With respect to Elisha, for example, we do find him in the posture of a teacher (cf. 2 Kings 4:38), but no one bothered to write down very much of what he taught. Instead, they recorded anecdotes of his extraordinary exploits: making iron float, purifying a spring of water, striking an entire army with blindness, healing a leper, and restoring life to a dead child.
In the big shift of interest during the eighth century, it is not as though Israel gave up its "biographical" approach to the prophets. On the contrary, details were included of the personal lives of Amos (cf. Amos 1:1; 7:10–15), Hosea (cf. Hosea 1:1–9), and Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 6:1–8; 7:1–3; 8:1–3; 36—39; etc.). On the whole, however, far more pages of Israel's eighth-century literature are devoted to the teaching of the prophets than to stories about them. Of the personal life of Micah, indeed, we are told next to nothing.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor