Q. 1. What is the Catholic view of a Prophet?
A. 1. Nowadays, the general population understands prophets to be individuals who predict the future. Biblical prophets did not view themselves as such. When they spoke as messengers of God, they addressed the people of their own time. But because they often articulated timeless truths, their messages still bear relevance for us today.
Prophets did not appear among the people of God (Israel) until there was kings. At that time, the prophet was someone who spoke a message from God. While most messages were addressed to the king, at times they were addressed to prominent persons or the people as a while. Because prophets delivered messages to the kings on behalf of God, the general population held the belief that when the king spoke, it was on behalf of God. As such, no one questioned his words.
In the Old Testament, there are 18 books that are attributed to the prophets. Some of them are compilations of the work of more than one prophet. These writings cover the period between 750 and 450 B.C. There are also prophets mentioned in the Old Testament, like Nathan, Elijah and Elisha, whose writings were not preserved, if they ever in fact existed. There seem to have been many more prophets who lived during that period but whose names and messages were lost in time.