Poets, Prophets, Critics, and Exegetes in Classical and Biblical Antiquity, and Early Christianity



Already in Antiquity poetry used to be seen as originating from divinely inspired ecstatic prophecy. The earliest Biblical prophets too were celebrated poets. But when the poetic tradition was fixed in writing, a more ‘rationalistic’ force seems to have taken over. The works of prophetic poets, results of divine ecstasy, were now exposed to the rather un-ecstatic looking methods and techniques of exegetes and critics. However, this article argues that critics and exegetes were from earliest times onwards aware of this connection, and down to the Christian exegetes of Late Antiquity traditional (‘Classical’) concepts and techniques were being used to explain the role of prophetic ecstasy in the production of poetry, prophecy, and other literature considered to be divinely inspired. As a consequence an unbroken tradition exists between the earliest written documents of western literature and their archaic (‘shamanic’) sources (be they Classical or Biblical) and the literary-religious experience of late-antique Christian authors and exegetes.
  • Year: 2007
  • Volume: 1
  • Page/Article: 1-16
  • DOI: 10.18573/j.2007.10290
  • Published on 15 Dec 2007