True Prophets; Church of James Pate’s Brain

1.  I read Robert Wilson’s “Interpreting Israel’s Religion: An Anthropological Perspective on the Problem of False Prophecy.”  On page 344, Wilson says that the conflict between Jeremiah and Hananiah was one between “two prophets having different social locations and different supporters.”  Jeremiah was on the periphery, and Hananiah was an establishment prophet.  Jeremiah supported a Mosaic sort of prophet, who communicated a divine message that was audibly heard.  And Hananiah relied on dreams.   Both accused one another of being false prophets.

I remember Stephen Geller at Jewish Theological Seminary making the point that Jeremiah—in contrast to Isaiah and Ezekiel—did not discuss a vision of God that he had.  As a result, he doubted his prophetic status.  Could this relate somehow to the point that Wilson is making?  I’m not sure.  As Wilson states, Jeremiah’s criticism is that the false prophets relied on dreams from their own imaginations, which contrast with true prophecies.  True prophecies come from the divine council and are effective.  So maybe Jeremiah would regard Isaiah and Ezekiel as true prophets, for they got their message from the divine council.

2.  I read some of Dirk Schenkeveld’s essay, “Philosophical Prose”, which is in the Handbook of Classical Rhetoric in the Hellenistic Period.  The fourth-third centuries B.C.E. philosopher Epicurus advises Menoeccus to meditate on the following: “God presents no fear, death no worries.  And while good is readily attainable, evil is readily obdurable.”

That resembles the Church of James Pate’s Brain, in which I tell myself soothing sermons to help me fall asleep.  I try to meditate on the love, grace, and sovereignty of God, which takes care of the “God presents no fear, death no worries” (though Epicurus would probably disagree with me, since, if I understand him correctly, he didn’t believe that the gods were active in human affairs).   And, in the Church of James Pate’s Brain, I aim to cultivate good attitudes towards people, while suppressing bad ones.  I try to see everyone as a person of value, created in God’s image.  That’s what I do when I’m trying to fall asleep.  As far as my day-today life goes, well, that’s a different story!

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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