Those who announce ideas (…) and at the same time live them we may call prophets. The Old Testament prophets did precisely that: they announced the idea that man had to find an answer to his existence, and that this answer was the development of his reason, of his love; and they taught that humility and justice were inseparably connected with love and reason. They lived what they preached. They did not seek power, but avoided it. (…) Because they saw the truth they felt the responsibility to tell it; they did not threaten, but they showed the alternatives with which man was confronted. It is not that a prophet wishes to be a prophet; in fact, only the false ones have the ambition to become prophets. ― (1967b: Prophets and Priests, in: R. Schoenman (Ed.): Bertrand Russell. Philosopher of the Century: Essays in His Honor, London (George Allen and Unwin) 1967, pp. 67f.)


A prophet must talk entirely out of inner need to tell his vision, and only then can his vision and voice be trusted. If, however, he is motivated by the narcissistic wish to be a leader or a savior, the validity of his message and the integrity of his voice are questionable. The absence of narcissistic motivation is one of the chief criteria for the true prophet in the past as well as now, and there is, perhaps, no other reason for their scarcity than this psychological requirement. ― (1966a: You Shall Be as Gods. A Radical Interpretation of the Old Testament and Its Tradition, New York (Holt, Rinehart and Winston) 1966, p. 94 n. 8.)

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