A prophet is an individual who, in religious terms, is claimed to have been contacted by divine or supernatural entities, or to speak for such, serving as an intermediary with humanity, delivering knowledge or information of such entities to others. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy. Traditionally, prophets are regarded as having a role in society that promotes change due to their messages and actions. The English word "prophet" comes from the Greek προφήτης (profétés) meaning advocate, and has become applied generally to anyone who makes predictions based on nearly any means of analysis or assessment, whether correct or not.
- The prophet's mantle, ere his flight began,
Dropt on the world — a sacred gift to man.
- Thomas Campbell, Pleasures of Hope, Part I, line 43
- I shall always consider the beet guesser the best prophet.
- Cicero, De Divinatione, II. 5, a Greek adage
- I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
- Muad'Dib could indeed see the Future, but you must understand the limits of this power. Think of sight. You have eyes, yet cannot see without light. If you are on the floor of a valley, you cannot see beyond your valley. Just so, Muad'Dib could not always choose to look across the mysterious terrain. He tells us that a single obscure decision of prophecy, perhaps the choice of one word over another, could change the entire aspect of the future. He tells us "The vision of time is broad, but when you pass through it, time becomes a narrow door." And always, he fought the temptation to choose a clear, safe course, warning "That path leads ever down into stagnation."
- Prophecy and prescience — How can they be put to the test in the face of the unanswered questions? Consider: How much is actual prediction of the "wave form" (as Muad'Dib referred to his vision-image) and how much is the prophet shaping the future to fit the prophecy? What of the harmonics inherent in the act of prophecy? Does the prophet see the future or does he see a line of weakness, a fault or cleavage that he may shatter with words or decisions as a diamond-cutter shatters his gem with a blow of a knife?
- The prophet is not diverted by illusions of past, present and future. The fixity of language determines such linear distinctions. Prophets hold a key to the lock in a language. The mechanical image remains only an image to them. This is not a mechanical universe. The linear progression of events is imposed by the observer. Cause and effect? That's not it at all. The prophet utters fateful words. You glimpse a thing "destined to occur." But the prophetic instant releases something of infinite portent and power. The universe undergoes a ghostly shift. Thus, the wise prophet conceals actuality behind shimmering labels. The uninitiated then believe the prophetic language is ambiguous. The listener distrusts the prophetic messenger. Instinct tells you how the utterance blunts the power of such words. The best prophets lead you up to the curtain and let you peer through for yourself.
- A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country and in his own house.
- Jesus, in Matthew, XIII. 57
- If I have eschewed the word prophet, I do not wish to attribute to myself such lofty title at the present time, for whoever is called a prophet now was once called a seer; since a prophet, my son, is properly speaking one who sees distant things through a natural knowledge of all creatures. And it can happen that the prophet bringing about the perfect light of prophecy may make manifest things both human and divine, because this cannot be done otherwise, given that the effects of predicting the future extend far off into time.
- Nostradamus, in The Prophecies (1555), Preface
- I tell you in truth: all men are Prophets or else God does not exist.
- Jean-Paul Sartre, in The Devil and the Good Lord (1951), act 1
- The historian is a reversed prophet.
- Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel, in Athenäum (1798) I, 2, 20: Fragmente
- Prognostics do not always prove prophecies, at least the wisest prophets make sure of the event first.
- Horace Walpole, letter to Thomas Walpole (9 February 1785)