Prophecy is a poorly understood genre, commonly understood as literature primarily focused on mantic visions of future events. A more nuanced understanding of literary prophecy recognizes the limits of this view, as well as the diversity of genres within many prophetic texts. These two views present one problem: forced readings of prophecy as a kind of reverse history on the one end and the problem of generic diversity on the other, resist an easy scheme of classification for prophetic literature. This study elucidates some of the problematic assumptions of primarily Biblical prophecy, and suggests that contemporary genre theory"“which views genre it terms of function more than a mere scheme of literary kinds"“can offer a unified conception of prophecy. From this, I suggest that prophecy can be defined as goal-oriented literary rhetoric intended to re-orient the reader or hearer into face-to-face aesthetic proximity with the Divine. The definition is defended utilizing a reading of the Denkschrift section of Isaiah, focusing primarily on chapter 5. The implications of this definition and the reading that follows are then explored through the lens of contemporary hermeneutics, where the theophanic encounter implicit in a reading of prophetic text is explored, and the proximity of second-person orientation is re-introduced to suggest that Biblical prophecy is intended to create a lived experience of the Covenant, where fidelity to the Covenant amounts to a face-to-face encounter with God.



College and Department

Humanities; Comparative Arts and Letters



Date Submitted


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prophecy, genre theory, hermeneutics, Isaiah