[Gr., = foreteller], a religious leader and spokesperson, particularly used in the Bible. The prophets emitted messages from the divine through inspired speech, the interpretation of omens and dreams, and the casting of lots and divination. The word derives from Greek cults, in which prophets interpreted answers to questions put to oracular mediums (see oracles
). The concept of a divine interpreter is common in religion, yet the function varies according to culture; thus the term can be defined only with respect to a particular religion. Usually prophet
connotes inspired utterance of a spontaneous nature, while priest
suggests established ritual duties.
Sections in this article:
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Religion: General