The Rabbis and Prophecy

in Review of Rabbinic Judaism
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Abstract

To represent the Rabbis and their views, I cite stories and sayings that I claim characterize the canonical consensus. No contradictory findings on the fundamental issues taken up in the cited stories and sayings circulate. And a fair number of rulings confirm and reinforce the indicated conception. The upshot is simple. On fundamental issues, a coherent structure and system of theology and law sustains discourse of “the Rabbis” and “their position.” By “the Rabbis” therefore I mean the canonical consensus upon issues of law, theology, and hermeneutics of the late antique Rabbinic literature. Here I present evidence of the Rabbinic consensus on Prophecy. I cite passages that represent a common conviction—passages that do not conflict with other compositions on the same topic but that conform to a fundamental principle everywhere affirmed and nowhere contradicted. The result of this analysis is to show that the Rabbis made the heritage of ancient Israelite Prophecy their own by dismantling the Prophetic documents into bits and pieces of philological evidence. Scripture thus was treated as a collection of inert facts, sentence by sentence, available for service where and as required. Scripture lost its coherence and no longer conveyed the context in which to read complete passages. The Rabbis read the Prophetic record as a collection of random facts awaiting systematization within the Rabbinic program and only there.