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1-Page Summary of The Prophet
The Prophets by Abraham J. Heschel is a book that describes the era of prophets in the Old Testament and also details many of those prophets themselves. The author explains what drove these men to speak out against injustice, as well as their relationship with God.
Heschel starts his book by discussing the attributes of a prophet. He states that prophets are people who feel guilty about sin and speak to God’s word to their people. Prophets often have to be alone, as they’re often tormented over how they can best serve God’s will. Heschel talks about some Old Testament prophets including Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Micah.
Heschel discusses the prophets and their lives, how they lived and what influenced them. He also discusses the differences between each of their messages and the similarities. Heschel discusses prophecy in general, both ancient times and today’s world. He compares different religions to one another as well.
When looking at the topic of chastisement, Heschel discusses first that it is futile and that God used love to direct his people more than punishment. The ultimate thing a person can lose is freedom which comes from God. When he takes away freedom, a person cannot turn to him and their heart becomes hardened. In part one of this book, Heschel looks at how justice was lacking in Israel during the time of the prophets because there were corrupt judges who lacked righteousness.
Heschel spends the second part of his book discussing ecstasy and pathos in relationship to the prophets. He discusses other parts of the world and religions that use ecstasy, as well as how they differ from Old Testament prophets. He also examines how we can assess their validity. Heschel gives a lot of information in these chapters. He takes a look at the connection between leaders of land, kings, princesses, and religious leaders—priests or prophets—and points out why it’s important for religion to be separate from politics when possible. One reason is because it helps keep religion pure by avoiding political entanglements that could defile its laws.
In the last chapter, Heschel talks about God and how he relates to his followers. He contrasts this with other gods that didn’t have relationships with their subjects. Heschel believes that it is important for people to understand God in order to understand themselves.
Part 1: Chapters 1-4
The Prophets by Abraham J. Heschel is a book that describes the prophets in the Old Testament and also gives details to many of them. The author explains why they were different from other followers of God, as well as detailing what made them so special.
Heschel begins his book by describing the type of man a prophet was and what defined him. He states that prophets were hypersensitive to sin, so they felt things more strongly than others around them. For example, Heschel says that if someone had a beautiful home but acquired it in an immoral way, then the home is sinful as well.
The author describes the story of a prophet named Amos. He was called by God to be a prophet, and he did not understand why he was chosen for such an important task. God’s voice sounded like a lion roaring in his ears. When people tried to banish him from their city because they didn’t want to hear what he had to say, Amos told them that they needed to listen carefully because it would affect how they lived their lives. The end result is that God changed his mind about destroying the Israelites and allowed them another chance at redemption. The author also finds that Amos cared deeply for those whom he was trying to protect, which made him more effective as a leader than if he were just preaching doom and gloom without any compassion or empathy for others.