The word prophet comes from the Greek word Prophētēs, which means a person who speaks by divine inspiration. Sometimes prophets perform great miracles, other times they give great sermons, and often, they prophesy about future events.
Ancient prophets spoke to God, beginning with Adam in the Garden of Eden. The prophet Amos states that "God reveals his secrets unto his servants, the prophets." In Deuteronomy 18:21, the prophet Moses tells how to distinguish a prophet: "If you wonder how are we to recognize the words that the Lord has uttered, here is the answer. When a word spoken by a prophet in the name of the Lord is not fulfilled, and does not come true, it is not a word spoken by the Lord.”
We do not have writings of the earliest prophets. The writing of Moses are some of the earliest writings we have of some prophets, from Adam down to Moses. The Book of Genesis contains the stories of some of the best known prophets including,
as well as other prophets.
During the time of Samuel, around 1050 BC, the political and spiritual leadership was divided between the King, who at that time was annointed Saul, and the prophet Samuel. Previous to that time, the prophet generally held both titles. At this time, prophets were more likely to write down their propecies. Some of these prophets include
as well as many others not mentioned here.
Just as God spoke to ancient prophets, the LDS church believes that God speaks to modern day prophets, starting with Joseph Smith in 1820, to the current prophet Gordon B. Hinckley in the current year, 2006.
- Prophets. A&E Home video. 1994. ISBN 0-7670-8501-9.