Some environments are more conducive to solitude than others. They offer more space between people, even more distance from other living things. But they might, in their quiet, also offer room for an unusual kind of conversation, in unusual kinds of voices. In Western monotheistic traditions, the desert is a traditional site of solitude but also of encounter between human and divine. In the stories of such encounters for a series of biblical prophets—Moses, Elijah, Ezekiel, and John the Baptist—isolation and encounter entangle. This article focuses on that encounter as a matter of voice. Drawing in particular on the theoretical work of Maurice Blanchot and Jean-Luc Nancy, it argues that prophetic voice is polyphonic in its isolation, as some trace of divinity always echoes through it. In most circumstances, such echoes are inaudible over the noise of many speaking voices. The desert setting both offers enough quiet for prophetic voices to be heard, and itself enters into the conversation as a voice—for example, of thunder or wind—that can sound in the silence in ways it could not in the city.

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