Prophets in the biblical sense are
spokespersons for God. Like the prophets Deborah and Ezekiel, they are divinely commanded
to deliver God's message to his people, a message that is often a call to repent and to
turn back to God. It is not uncommon for the authors of creative fiction and poetry to be
referred to as prophets. Those who do tend to do so either because the writer has great
insight into the human condition or speaks out against social and political injustice. The
more radical (and esoteric) version of this claims that literary artists are prophets by
virtue of being creative alone, that the very act of writing a poem or story is a kind of
prophecy in that it offers something of the human spirit that cannot be reduced to the
deterministic or mundane.
There are dangers in too easily applying this label to many (or even
every) creative artist. Not every one is divinely commanded of God in quite the same way
that a biblical prophet is. While artists may be gifted of God to make beautiful objects,
it doesn't always follow that they are speaking for God. Of course, some, like the prophet
Isaiah, are both voices of God and talented in their presentation.
Paul, quoting a portion of the famous poem Hymn to Zeus,
called the Cretan poet-philosopher Epimenides a "prophet" in part because the
Cretan people highly honored him and in part because his condemnation of his culture's
ethical abuses supported Titus' need for enforcing church discipline. It is likely, Paul
did not intend the title "prophet" to have the same force as when referring to
Jeremiah or Hilduh. Rather, Epimendes is prophetic in the more general sense that his
words reflect God's perspective on a matter, even if not directly inspired.
In this sense then, we might comfortably refer to some authors as
having a prophetic sense or disposition.