Prophets and Public Intellectuals

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From an interview link sent to me by Lew, Chomsky offers this compelling insight on the role of the Prophet in Hebrew scripture:

“there were people in the Bible whom we would call intellectuals. Then they called them a word that is translated as ‘prophets’ but they weren’t prophesizing anything. They were basically intellectuals and were giving geo-political analyses. They were calling for moral behavior, treating orphans and women properly and so on. They were public intellectuals criticizing power and calling for moral behavior and they were also predicting that the efforts of the kings trying to extend their power would lead to destruction – all the things that critical intellectuals are supposed to do. How were they treated? Were they praised? No, they were imprisoned, driven into the desert, despised. Hundreds of years later they were honored.”

8:57 am on December 22, 2003
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