From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Prophecy
involves a process in which one or more messages
allegedly communicated to a prophet
are then communicated to other people. Such messages typically
inspiration, interpretation, or revelation
of events to come (compare divine
knowledge). Historically, clairvoyance
has been used[by
whom?] as an adjunct to prophecy.
The English word "prophecy"
(noun) in the sense of "function of a prophet" appeared in
Europe from about 1225, from Old
French profecie (12th century), and from Late
Latin prophetia, Greek
prophetia "gift of interpreting the will of God",
from Greek prophetes (see prophet).
The related meaning "thing spoken or written by a prophet"
is from c. 1300, while the verb "to prophesy" is recorded
The word prophecy comes from the Greek
verb, προφημι (prophemi), which means
“to say beforehand, foretell”; it is a combination of the
Greek words, προ and φημι. The Greek
prefix προ also means "before," "in
front of," so etymologically προφημι
means to speak in front of, as a spokesperson.
The revolution of 1831. As prophecied by that learned
astrologer General Ikey Wether-Bridge
suggested that "prophecy is, in truth and reality, an emanation
sent forth by Divine
Being through the medium of the Active
Intellect, in the first instance to man's rational
faculty, and then to his imaginative
former closely relates to the definition by Al-Fârâbî
who developed the theory of prophecy in Islam.
Encyclopedia defines a Christian conception of prophecy as
"understood in its strict sense, it means the foreknowledge of
future events, though it may sometimes apply to past events of which
there is no memory, and to present hidden things which cannot be
known by the natural light of reason."
From a skeptical point of view, there is
a Latin maxim: prophecy written after the fact vaticinium
See also: Oracle
Prophecy is by no means new or limited to any one culture. It is a
common property to all known ancient societies around the world, some
more than others. Many systems and rules about prophecy have been
proposed over several millennia.
Main article: Bahá'í
In 1863, Bahá'u'lláh,
the founder of the Bahá'í
Faith, claimed to have been the promised messianic figure of all
previous religions, and a Manifestation
a type of prophet in the Bahá'í writings that serves as
intermediary between the divine and humanity and who speak with the
voice of a god.
Bahá'u'lláh claimed that, while being imprisoned in the
Iran, he underwent a series of mystical experiences including having
a vision of the Maid
of Heaven who told him of his divine mission, and the promise
of divine assistance;
In Bahá'í belief, the Maid of Heaven is a
representation of the divine.
The Haedong Kosung-jon
(Biographies of High Monks) records that King Beopheung
of Silla had desired to promulgate Buddhism as the state
religion. However, officials in his court opposed him. In the
fourteenth year of his reign, Beopheung's "Grand Secretary",
a strategy to overcome court opposition. Ichadon schemed with the
king, convincing him to make a proclamation granting Buddhism
official state sanction using the royal seal. Ichadon told the king
to deny having made such a proclamation when the opposing officials
received it and demanded an explanation. Instead, Ichadon would
confess and accept the punishment of execution, for what would
quickly be seen as a forgery. Ichadon prophesied to the king that at
his execution a wonderful miracle would convince the opposing court
faction of Buddhism's power. Ichadon's scheme went as planned, and
the opposing officials took the bait. When Ichadon was executed on
the 15th day of the 9th month in 527, his prophecy was fulfilled; the
earth shook, the sun was darkened, beautiful flowers rained from the
sky, his severed head flew to the sacred Geumgang mountains, and milk
instead of blood sprayed 100 feet in the air from his beheaded
corpse. The omen was accepted by the opposing court officials as a
manifestation of heaven's approval, and Buddhism was made the state
religion in 527.
In ancient Chinese, prophetic texts are known as Chen(谶).
The most famous Chinese prophecy is the Tui
bei tu (推背圖)
See also: Prophets
Testament refers to prophecy as one of the spiritual
gifts given by the indwelling Holy
12:6]. From this, many Christians believe that the gift of
prophecy is the supernatural
ability to receive and convey a message from God. The purpose of the
message may be to "edify, exhort
the members of the Church. In this context, not all prophecies
about the future. The Apostle
Paul teaches in First
Corinthians that prophecy is for the benefit of the whole Church
and not just of the individual exercising the gift.[1
Brueggemann, the task of prophetic (Christian) ministry is to
nurture, nourish and evoke a consciousness and perception alternative
to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture.
A recognized form of Christian prophecy is the "prophetic drama"
Dillistone describes as a "metaphorical conjunction between
present situations and future events".
The gift of prophecy was acknowledged in
the Church after the death of the apostles. In his Dialogue
with Trypho, Justin
Martyr argued that prophets were no longer among Israel but were
in the Church. The
Shepherd of Hermas, written around the mid-2nd century—John
A. T. Robinson dates it before 85 AD, describes the way prophecy
was being used within the church of that time. Irenaeus
confirms the existence of such spiritual gifts in his Against
Heresies. Although some modern commentators claim that
rejected because he claimed to be a prophet, a careful examination of
history shows that the gift of prophecy was still acknowledged during
the time of Montanus, and that he was controversial because of the
manner in which he prophesied and the doctrines he propagated.
Subsequently there are few examples of the prophetic and certain
other gifts (until the Scottish Covenanters
Peden and John
Wishart). Prophecy and certain other spiritual gifts were
somewhat rarely acknowledged throughout church history. From 1904 to
1906, the Azusa
Street Revival occurred in Los Angeles, California and is
sometimes considered the birthplace of the Pentecostal
movement. This revival is well known for the "speaking
in tongues" that occurred there. Some participants of the
Azusa Street Revival are claimed to have prophesied. Pentecostals
believe prophecy and certain other gifts are once again being given
to Christians. The Charismatic
Movement, which began to move into mainline denominations, also
accepts spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues and prophecy.
The "father" of the Healing
Revival is said to have been William
M. Branham, who started a religious cult
based on his sermons and prophecies. His predictions include the End
of the World in 1977, Benito
Mussolini's last stand in Ethiopia, egg-shaped cars, and more
during sermons recorded from 1947 to 1965.
Since 1972, the neo-Pentecostal
of God Ministry of Jesus Christ International has expressed a
belief in prophecy. The church claims this gift is manifested by one
person (the prophesier) laying their hands on another person, who
receives an individual message said by the prophesier. Prophesiers
are believed to be used by the Holy
Ghost as instruments through whom God expresses his promises,
advice and commandments. The church claims people receive messages
about their future, in the form of promises given by God and expected
to be fulfilled by divine action.
In 1994, the Apostolic-Prophetic
Movement came on the scene, largely due to the influence of the
Toronto, Brownsville and Kansas City revivals. Along with the
Charismatic Movement's speaking in tongues and prophecy, the
Prophetic Movement distinguished itself from past movements with
physical twitching, moaning, sightings of gold dust, "glory
clouds" and gems that (allegedly) fell from heaven. (Maxwell,
Day Saint movement
See also: Joseph
Smith and Revelation
(Latter Day Saints)
Day Saint movement maintains that its first prophet, Joseph
Smith, was visited by God and Jesus Christ in 1820. The Latter
Day Saints further claims that God communicated directly with Joseph
Smith on many subsequent occasions, and that following the death of
Joseph Smith God has continued to speak through subsequent prophets.
Joseph Smith claims to have been led by an angel to a large hill in
upstate New York, where he was shown an ancient manuscript engraved
on plates of gold metal. Joseph Smith claimed to have translated this
manuscript into modern English under divine inspiration by the gift
and power of God, and the publication of this translation are known
as the Book of
Following Smith's murder, there was a succession
crisis that resulted in a great schism. The majority of
Saints believing Brigham Young to be the next prophet and
following him out to Utah, while a minority returned to Missouri with
Emma Smith, believing Joseph Smith Junior's son, Joseph Smith III, to
be the next legitimate prophet (forming the Reorganized
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now the Community of
Christ). Since even before the death of Joseph Smith in 1844, there
have been numerous separatist Latter
Day Saint sects that have splintered from the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. To this day, there are an
unknown number of organizations within the Latter Day Saint Movement,
each with their own proposed prophet.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) which
was maintained by Brigham Young and his followers in Utah is the
largest LDS body. The current Prophet/President
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Thomas
S. Monson. The church has, since Joseph
Smith's death on June 27, 1844, held a belief that the president
of their church is also a literal prophet of God, and the only true
prophet on the earth. The church also maintains that further
revelations claimed to have been given through Joseph Smith are
published in the Doctrine
and Covenants, one of four
sacred LDS texts. Additional revelations and prophecies outside
the Standard Works, such as Joseph Smith's "White
Horse Prophecy", concerning a great and final war in the
United States before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, can be found
in other church published works.
See also: Prophets
believe that the Qur'an
predicted many events years before they happened and that such
prophecies are proof of the divine origin of the Qur'an. The Qur'an
itself states "For every prophecy is a term, and you will come
to know (it)." [Quran 6:67]
Muslims also recognize the validity of some prophecies in other
sacred texts like in the Bible;
however, they believe that, unlike the Qur'an, some parts of the
Bible have been corrupted over the years, and as a result, not all of
the prophecies and verses in the Bible are accurate.
See also: Prophets
in Judaism and Nevi'im
In the Torah,
prophecy often consisted of a conditioned warning by God
of the consequences should the society, specific communities, or
their leaders not adhere to Torah's instructions in the time
contemporary with the prophet's life. Prophecies sometimes included
conditioned promises of blessing for obeying God, and returning to
behaviors and laws as written in the Torah. Conditioned warning
prophecies feature in all Jewish works of the Tanakh.
The rabbinic teachings, notably
(Rambam), suggest there were many levels of prophecy, from the
highest such as those experienced by Moses,
to the lowest where the individuals were able to apprehend the Divine
Will, but not respond or even describe this experience to others,
citing in example, Shem, Eber and most notably, Noah,
who, in biblical narrative, does not issue prophetic
theory of prophecy contains two elements (1) an explanation of what
prophecy is, and (2) a ranking of the various types of prophecy and
prophecy-like phenomena. I think we can use the ranking of prophecy
implicate in Maimonides to substantiate our thesis that the
rationalism of Maimonides is essentially a moral rationalism.
Maimonides, in his The
Guide for the Perplexed, outlines twelve modes of
from lesser to greater degree of clarity:
Allegorical waking vision
Auditory waking revelation
Audiovisual waking revelation/Divine speaker (that refers
implicitly to Moses)
Of the twelfth mode,
Maimonides focuses his attention on its "implicit superiority to
the penultimate stage in the above series", and therefore above
all other prophetic and semi-prophetic modes.
Experience of prophecy in the Torah and the rest of Tanakh do not
restrict it to Jews. Nor is the prophetic experience restricted to
The Tanakh contains prophecies from various Hebrew prophets (55 in
total) who communicated messages from God to the nation
of Israel, and later the population of Judea
and elsewhere. In Jewish tradition Daniel
is not counted in the list of prophets.
whose full name was Ezra Ha'Sofer (the scribe), is acknowledged to
have been the last prophet of Israel if one accepts the opinion that
Nechemyah died in Babylon before 9th Tevet 3448 (313 BCE).
There exists a problem in verifying most Native American prophecy,
in that they remain primarily an oral
tradition, and thus there is no way to cite references of where
writings have been committed to paper. In their system, the best
reference is an Elder, who acts as a repository of the accumulated
wisdom of their tradition.
type of example, it is recorded that there are three Dogrib
prophets who had claimed to have been divinely inspired to bring the
message of Christianity's God to their people.
This prophecy among the Dogrib involves elements such as dances and
prophecy has been claimed for, but not by, Michel de Nostredame
popularly referred to as Nostradamus
who claimed to be a converted
Christian. It is known that he had suffered several tragedies in
his life, and had been persecuted to some degree for his cryptic
esoteric writings about the future, reportedly derived through a use
of a crystal
ball. Nostradamus was a French apothecary
and reputed seer who published collections of foreknowledge of future
events. He is best known for his book Les Propheties ("The
Prophecies"), the first edition of which appeared in 1555. Since
the publication of this book, Nostradamus has attracted an esoteric
following that, along with the popularistic press, credits him with
foreseeing world events. His esoteric cryptic foreseeings have in
some cases been assimilated to the results of applying the alleged
Bible code, as
well as to other purported pseudo-prophetic works.
Most reliable academic sources
maintain that the associations made between world events and
are largely the result of misinterpretations or mistranslations
(sometimes deliberate) or else are so tenuous as to render them
useless as evidence of any genuine predictive power. Moreover, none
of the sources listed offers any evidence that anyone has ever
interpreted any of Nostradamus's pseudo-prophetic works specifically
enough to allow a clear identification of any event in advance.
According to skeptics, many apparently fulfilled prophecies can be
explained as coincidences (possibly aided by the prophecy's own
vagueness), or that some prophecies were actually invented after the
fact to match the circumstances of a past event ("postdiction").
Whitcomb in The Magician's Companion observes,
One point to remember is that
the probability of an event changes as soon as a prophecy (or
divination) exists. . . . The accuracy or outcome of any prophecy is
altered by the desires and attachments of the seer and those who hear
The phenomenon of prophecy is not well
understood in psychology research literature. Psychiatrist and
neurologist Arthur Deikman describes the phenomenon as an "intuitive
knowing, a type of perception that bypasses the usual sensory
channels and rational intellect."
can be likened to a bridge between the individual ‘mystical
self’ and the communal ‘mystical body’,”
writes religious sociologist Margaret
Prophecy seems to involve “the free association that occurred
through the workings of the right brain.”
Psychologist Julian Jaynes proposed that
this is a temporary accessing of the bicameral mind; that is, a
temporary separating of functions, such that the authoritarian part
of the mind seems to literally be speaking to the person as if a
separate (and external) voice. Jaynes posits that the gods heard as
voices in the head were and are organizations of the central nervous
system. God speaking through man, according to Jaynes, is a more
recent vestige of God speaking to man; the product of a more
integrated higher self. When the bicameral mind speaks, there is no
introspection. We simply experience the Lord telling us what to do.
In earlier times, posits Jaynes, there was additionally a visual
component, now lost.
Child development and consciousness author Joseph
Chilton Pearce remarked that revelation typically appears in
symbolic form and “in a single flash of insight.”
He used the metaphor of lightning striking and suggests that the
revelation is “a result of a buildup of resonant
Pearce compared it to the earth asking a question and the sky
answering it. Focus, he said, feeds into “a unified field of
like resonance (and becomes) capable of attracting and receiving the
field’s answer when it does form."
Some cite aspects of cognitive
psychology such as pattern forming and attention to the formation
of prophecy in modern-day society as well as the declining influence
of religion in daily life.
Guiley, Rosemary (2006). "clairvoyance".
The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy. Infobase Publishing. p. 59.
Retrieved 2015-01-10. Clairvoyance has been a valued
skill in divination, prophecy, and magic since ancient times.
Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination, (Minneapolis, MN:
Fortress Press, 1978), 13.
Christianity and Symbolism; London 1955, p275; referenced in 'The
function of prophetic drama' in "The place is too small for
us": the Israelite prophets in recent scholarship, by R. P.
Gordon, 1995 Eisenbrauns, (cf Galatians 4:24)
of Caesarea, Church History, Book V, Chapter 16 & 18
Montanus...became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of
frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange
things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of
the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning.... His
actions and his teaching show who this new teacher is. This is he
who taught the dissolution of marriage; who made laws for fasting;
who named Pepuza and Tymion, small towns in Phrygia, Jerusalem,
wishing to gather people to them from all directions; who appointed
collectors of money; who contrived the receiving of gifts under the
name of offerings; who provided salaries for those who preached his
doctrine, that its teaching might prevail through gluttony.
Vilna. "Babylonian Talmud". San.11a,
Alcalay, Reuben., The Complete
Hebrew – English dictionary, Hemed Books, New York, 1996
Tucker, T.G., Etymological
dictionary of Latin, Ares Publishers, Inc., Chicago, 1985 ISBN
Helm, June., Prophecy
and Power among the Dogrib Indians, University of Nebraska
Adamson, Peter, Prophecy, in
Muhammad in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia of the
Prophet of God (2 vols.), Edited by C. Fitzpatrick and A.
Walker, Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2014. ISBN
H. Rowley. 1956. Prophecy and Religion in Ancient China and
Israel. New York: Harper & Brothers. vi, 154 p.
Jim Thompson. 2008. Prophecy
Today: a Further Word from God?: Does God-Given Prophecy Continue in
Today's Church, or Doesn't It?. (Evangelical Press), ISBN
Tullius Cicero. 1997. De divinatione. Trans. Arthur
Stanley Pease. Darmstadt: Wissenschaflliche Buchgesellschaft.
Edward Aune. 1963. Prophecy in Early Christianity and the
Ancient Mediterranean World. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. ISBN
Christopher Forbes. 1997. Prophecy
and Inspired Speech: in Early Christianity and Its Hellenistic
Environment. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson. ISBN
Clifford S. Hill. 1991. Prophecy,
Past and Present: an Exploration of the Prophetic Ministry in the
Bible and the Church today. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Vine. ISBN
Jürgen Beyer. 2002.
'Prophezeiungen', Enzyklopädie des Märchens:
Handwörterbuch zur historischen und vergleichenden
Erzählforschung [N.B.: In English renders as
"Encyclopedia of the fairy tale: Handy dictionary for
historical and comparative tale research"]. Berlin & New
York: Walter de Gruyter. In vol. 10, on col. 1419–1432.
Stacey Campbell. 2008. Ecstatic Prophecy. Grand
Rapids, Mich.: Chosen Books/Baker Publishing Group. ISBN
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