Reflection #3: Prophets
Whereas my first two reflections for the website were about writing, Id like to start reflecting on things more directly related to Kirthanin. The first of these reflections is about what it means to be a prophet, since many comments and questions that I have received about the first book really raise issues related to what a prophet is. Hopefully, this will make more sense as you read further. WARNING: IF you havent read or finished the first book, you should stop here unless you want the end spoiled.
A common question/objection to the ending of the first book is as follows: I dont understand Joraiem was a prophet. Shouldnt he have been able to foresee what was coming? There are a number of misunderstandings about what it means to be a prophet in this question, so let me address them.
First, I should be clear that my understanding of what a prophet is comes primarily from the Old Testament. Prophets in the OT are primarily seen as men who speak for God. Thus, while they are revealers, it isnt always or even primarily the future that they reveal, though they do that sometimes. In short, it is a mistake to think of prophets primarily as foretellers of the future. That happened, but it wasnt their main job. Their main job was to say whatever God wanted them to say.
Second, even when prophets were granted a glimpse of the future, it was always limited and usually something even they did not fully understand. The future was not an open book laid bare before them by virtue of their prophetic status. We have no reason to think that any of these men knew the day and manner of their own death unless God specifically revealed it. Essentially, Im saying that even prophets could be surprised, since they were by no means granted a full vision of their own future let alone the future of the world.
Third, again, even when knowledge of the future was granted, power to change it wasnt. To be sure, many prophecies have an if/then formula, where it is clear that certain consequences will only come to pass depending on other things. However, many prophecies dont come that way at all. Even if a prophet had been given answers to questions about his own life, there would be no guarantee that he could change those things if he didnt like them.
Taken together, it needs to be clear that I see no inconsistency in Joraiem being a prophet and not foreseeing the events at the end of Beyond the Summerland. As a prophet, he like Valzaan could see only what he was shown. What he was shown was not under his control. Allfather was no more obligated to reveal Joraiems future than He was obligated to reveal anyone elses, prophet or no. You may question why Allfather would let those events take place, or why Allfather wouldnt forewarn Joraiem, but you may not say that being a prophet means Joraiem should have known what was coming. That is to attribute to Joraiem omniscience, which neither he nor any other prophet has. At least, not in Kirthanin they dont. :)