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Illumination from Liber Scivias, showing Hildegard of Bingen receiving a vision, dictating to her scribe and sketching on a wax tablet.
Illumination from Liber Scivias, showing Hildegard of Bingen receiving a vision, dictating to her scribe and sketching on a wax tablet.

In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.

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  • ✪ Read Scripture: Revelation Ch. 1-11
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Transcription

The Book of the Revelation of Jesus The author of this book, which is not called Revelations by the way, is named at the beginning. It was written by John which could refer to the Beloved Disciple who wrote the gospel and the letters of John or it could be a different John - a Messianic Jewish prophet who traveled about and taught in early church. Whichever John it was, he makes clear in the opening paragraph what kind of book he has written. He calls it first of all a revelation or apocalypse. The greek word is Apokalypsis and it refers to a type of literature very familiar to John's readers from the Hebrew scriptures and from other popular Jewish texts. Apokalypsis recounted a prophet's symbolic dreams and visions that revealed God's heavenly perspective on history and current events so that the present could be viewed in light of history's final outcome. And John says this apocalypse is a prophecy which means it's a word from God spoken through a prophet to God's people, usually to warn or comfort them in a time of crisis. By calling this book of prophecy, John saying that it stands in the tradition of the biblical prophets and is bringing their message to a climax. And this apocalyptic prophecy was sent to real people that John knew. The book opens and closes as a circular letter that was sent to seven churches in the ancient Roman province of Asia. Now seven is a meaningful number for John. It's a symbol of completeness based on the seven-day Sabbath cycle in the Old Testament. And John has woven sevens into every single part of this book. Now with this opening John has given us clear guidance about how he wants us to understand this book. Jewish apocalypse is communicated through symbolic imagery and numbers. It is not a secret predictive code about the timing of the end of the world rather John is constantly using these symbols that are drawn from the Old Testament and he expects his readers to go discover what the symbols mean by looking up the text he's alluding to. Also the fact that it's a letter means that John is actually addressing the situation of these first century churches. And so while this book has much to say to Christians of later generations, the books meaning must first be anchored in the historical context of John's time, place, and audience. which brings us into the book's first section Jesus' message to the seven churches John was exiled on the island of Patmos and he saw a vision of the risen Jesus exalted as king of the world. And He was standing among seven burning lights. and John's told this is a symbol of the seven churches in Asia Minor that's been adapted from the book of the Prophet Zechariah. And Jesus starts addressing the specific problems that face each church Some where apathetic due to wealth and affluence. Others were morally compromised. Their people were still eating ritual meals, and sleeping around, and pagan temples. But others among the churches remained faithful to Jesus. And they were suffering harassment and even violent persecution. And Jesus warns that things are going to get worse. A tribulation is upon the churches that will force them to choose between compromise or faithfulness. By John's day the murder of Christians by the Roman Emperor Nero was passed. And the persecution of Christians by Emperor Domitian was likely underway. And so the temptation was to deny Jesus either to avoid persecution or simply to join the spirit of the Roman age. And Jesus calls them to faithfulness so that they can overcome or literally conquer. And Jesus promises a reward for everyone in these churches who does conquer. Each reward is drawn directly from the books final vision about the marriage of heaven and earth. And so this opening section it sets up the main plot tension that will drive the storyline in this book. Will Jesus' people endure? Will they inherit the new world that God has in store? And why is faithfulness to Jesus described as conquering. The rest of the book is John's answer. After this John has a vision of God's heavenly throne room and he describes it with imagery drawn from many Old Testament prophets. Surrounding God are creatures and elders that represent all creation and human nations and they're giving honor and allegiance to the one true Creator God who is holy holy holy. In God's hand is a scroll that's closed up with seven wax seals. It symbolizes the message of the Old Testament prophets and the sealed scroll of Daniel's visions. these are all about how God's kingdom will come here fully on earth as in heaven But it turns out no one is able to open the scroll until John hears of someone who can. It's the lion from the tribe of Judah and the root of David he can open it. These are classic Old Testament desciptions of the Messianic King who would bring God's kingdom through military conquest. Now that's what John hears but then what he turns and sees is not an aggressive lion king but a sacrifice bloody lamb who's alive standing there and ready to open the scroll. Now the symbol of Jesus as the slain lamb, this is crucially important for understanding the book. John's saying that the Old Testament promise of God's future victorious kingdom was inaugurated through the crucified Messiah. Jesus overcame his enemies by dying for them as the true Passover lamb so that they could be redeemed. Because of the Resurrection Jesus's death on the cross was not a defeat, it was his enthronement it was the way he conquered evil. And so this vision concludes with the lamb alongside the one sitting on the throne and together they are worshipped as the one true creator and Redeemer and the slain lamb begins to open the scroll. It's a symbol of His divine authority to guide history to its conclusion. Which brings us to the next section of the book the three cycles of sevens seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls. And each cycle depicts God's kingdom and justice coming here on earth as in heaven. Now some people think that the three sets of seven divine judgment represent a literal linear sequence of events that either happened in the past or could be happening now or are yet to happen in the future when Jesus returns. But notice how John has woven all the sevens together so the final seven bowls come out of the seventh trumpet and the seventh seal. and the seven trumpets emerge from the seventh seal They're like nesting dolls - each seventh contained to the next seven. Also notice how each of the series of seven culminates in the final judgment and they have matching conclusions. So it's more likely that John is using each set of seven to depict the same period of time between Jesus's resurrection and future returned from three different perspectives. So the slain lamb begins to open the scrolls first four seals and John sees four horsemen. It's an image from the book of Zechariah chapter one. And they symbolize times of war, conquest, famine, and death. In other words a tragically average day in human history. Then the fifth seal depicts the murdered Christian martyrs before God's heavenly throne. And the cry of their innocent blood rises up before God like smoke from the altar of incense. And they're told to rest because more Christians are yet to die. We're not told why but we are told that it won't last forever the sixth seal is God's ultimate response to their cry. He brings the great day of the Lord that was described in Isaiah and Joel. And the people of the earth cry out 'Who is able to stand?!' And then all of a sudden John pauses the action with an intermission to answer that question John sees an angel with a signet ring coming to place a mark of protection on God's servants who are enduring all this hardship and he hears the number of those who are sealed - a hundred and forty-four thousand. It's a military census like the one in the Book of Numbers chapter one. There are twelve thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Now pay attention. The number of this army is what John heard. Just like he heard about the conquering lion of Judah. But in both cases what he then turned and saw was the surprising fulfillment of those military images in Jesus the slain lamb. So when he sees this messianic army of God's kingdom. It's made up of people from all nations fulfilling God's ancient promise to Abraham. It's this multi-ethnic army of the Lamb who can stand before God because they've been redeemed by the lamb's blood. And now they are called the conquerer not by killing their enemies but by suffering and bearing witness just like the lamb. After this the seventh and final seal is broken but before the scroll is open the seven warning trumpets emerge and fire is taken from the incense altar it symbolizes the cry of the martyrs and it's cast onto the earth bringing the day of the Lord to its completion. Now with the seven trumpets John backs up and he retells the story again. This time with images from the Exodus story. So the first five trumpet blasts replay the plague sent upon Egypt and then the sixth trumpet releases the four horsemen that came from the first four seals. But then John tells us that despite all these plagues the nations did not repent just like pharaoh didn't in the Exodus story. So it seems that God's judgment alone will not bring people to humble repentance before him then John pauses the action again with another intermission. An angel brings the unsealed scroll that was opened by the lamb. And just like Ezekiel John is told to eat the scroll and then proclaim its message to the nations. Finally the lamb scroll is open and now we will discover how God's kingdom will come here on earth. The scrolls content is spelled out in two symbolic visions. First John sees God's temple and the martyrs by the altar and he's told to measure and set them apart. And it's an image of protection taken from Zechariah chapter 2. But then the outer courts in the city are excluded and they get trampled down by the nations. Now some think that this refers literally to a destruction of Jerusalem that happened in the past or will happen in the future. But more likely John's following the tradition of Jesus and the apostles who all use the new temple as a symbol for God's new covenant people. In that case, this is an image about how Jesus' followers may suffer persecution by the nations but this external defeat cannot take away their victory through the lamb. This idea gets expanded in the scrolls' second vision. God appoints two witnesses as prophetic representatives to the nations. And once again some people think this refers literally two prophets who will appear one day in the future. But John calls them lampstands which is one of his clear symbols for the churches. So this vision is more likely about the prophetic role of Jesus' followers who are to take up the mantle of Moses and Elijah and call idolatrous nations and rulers to turn back to the one true God. But then all of a sudden a horrible beast appears, let the reader remember Daniel chapter 7, and the beast conquers the witnesses and kills them. But then God brings them back to life and vindicates the witnesses before their persecutors and the end result is that many among the nations finally do repent and give glory to the Creator God in the day of the Lord. Now, stop. Think about the story so far. God's warning judgments through the seals and through the trumpets did not generate repentance among the nations just like the Exodus plagues only hardened Pharaoh's heart. But the lamb, He conquered his enemies by loving them, dying for them. And now the message of the lamb's scroll reveals the mission of his army, the church. God's kingdom will be revealed when the nations see the church imitating the loving sacrifice of the Lamb not killing their enemies but dying for them. It is God's mercy shown through Jesus' followers that will bring the nations to repentance. And this surprising claim is the message of the open scroll that John has placed at the exact center of the entire book. After this the last trumpet sounds and the nations are shaken as God's kingdom comes here on earth as it is in heaven. So now we know how the church will bear witness to the nations and inherit the new creation but who was that terrible beast that waged war on God's people? And how will the whole story turn out? John will tell us in the second half of the Book of the Revelation.

Contents

Description

Some religions have religious texts which they view as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired. For instance, Orthodox Jews, Christians and Muslims believe that the Torah was received from Yahweh on biblical Mount Sinai.[1][2] Most Christians believe that both the Old Testament and the New Testament were inspired by God. Muslims believe the Quran was revealed by God to Muhammad word by word through the angel Gabriel (Jibril).[3][4] In Hinduism, some Vedas are considered apauruṣeya, "not human compositions", and are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti, "what is heard". The 15,000 handwritten pages produced by the mystic Maria Valtorta were represented as direct dictations from Jesus, while she attributed The Book of Azariah to her guardian angel.[5] Aleister Crowley stated that The Book of the Law had been revealed to him through a higher being that called itself Aiwass.

A revelation communicated by a supernatural entity reported as being present during the event is called a vision. Direct conversations between the recipient and the supernatural entity,[6] or physical marks such as stigmata, have been reported. In rare cases, such as that of Saint Juan Diego, physical artifacts accompany the revelation.[7] The Roman Catholic concept of interior locution includes just an inner voice heard by the recipient.

In the Abrahamic religions, the term is used to refer to the process by which God reveals knowledge of himself, his will, and his divine providence to the world of human beings.[8] In secondary usage, revelation refers to the resulting human knowledge about God, prophecy, and other divine things. Revelation from a supernatural source plays a less important role in some other religious traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

Background

Inspiration – such as that bestowed by God on the author of a sacred book – involves a special illumination of the mind, in virtue of which the recipient conceives such thoughts as God desires him to commit to writing, and does not necessarily involve supernatural communication.[9]

With the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, beginning about the mid-17th century, the development of rationalism, materialism and atheism, the concept of supernatural revelation itself faced skepticism. In The Age of Reason (1794–1809), Thomas Paine develops the theology of deism, rejecting the possibility of miracles and arguing that a revelation can be considered valid only for the original recipient, with all else being hearsay.[10]

Types

Individual revelation

Thomas Aquinas believed in two types of individual revelation from God, general revelation and special revelation. In general revelation, God reveals himself through his creation, such that at least some truths about God can be learned by the empirical study of nature, physics, cosmology, etc., to an individual. Special revelation is the knowledge of God and spiritual matters which can be discovered through supernatural means, such as scripture or miracles, by individuals. Direct revelation refers to communication from God to someone in particular.

Though one may deduce the existence of God and some of God's attributes through general revelation, certain specifics may be known only through special revelation. Aquinas believed that special revelation is equivalent to the revelation of God in Jesus. The major theological components of Christianity, such as the Trinity and the Incarnation, are revealed in the teachings of the church and the scriptures and may not otherwise be deduced. Special revelation and natural revelation are complementary rather than contradictory in nature.

"Continuous revelation" is a term for the theological position that God continues to reveal divine principles or commandments to humanity.

In the 20th century, religious existentialists proposed that revelation held no content in and of itself but rather that God inspired people with his presence by coming into contact with them. Revelation is a human response that records how we respond to God.

Public revelation

The mass-revelation at the Mount Horeb in an illustration from a Christian Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company, 1907
The mass-revelation at the Mount Horeb in an illustration from a Christian Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company, 1907

Some religious groups believe a deity has been revealed or spoken to a large group of people or have legends to a similar effect. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Yahweh is said to have been revealed upon giving the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai. In Christianity, the Book of Acts describes the Day of Pentecost wherein a large group of the followers of Jesus experienced mass revelation. The Lakota people believe Ptesáŋwiŋ spoke directly to the people in the establishment of Lakota religious traditions. Some versions of an Aztec legend tell of Huitzilopochtli speaking directly to the Aztec people upon their arrival at Anåhuac. Historically, some emperors, cult leaders, and other figures have also been deified and treated as though their words are themselves revelations.

Methods

Verbal

Some people hold that God can communicate with man in a way that gives direct, propositional content: This is termed verbal revelation. Orthodox Judaism and some forms of Christianity hold that the first five books of Moses were dictated by God in such a fashion.

Non-verbal propositional

One school of thought holds that revelation is non-verbal and non-literal, yet it may have propositional content. People were divinely inspired by God with a message, but not in a verbal-like fashion.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel has written, "To convey what the prophets experienced, the Bible could either use terms of descriptions or terms of indication. Any description of the act of revelation in empirical categories would have produced a caricature. That is why all the Bible does is to state that revelation happened; how it happened is something they could only convey in words that are evocative and suggestive."[11]

Isaiah writes that he received his message through visions, where he would see YHWH, the God of Israel, speaking to angelic beings that surrounded him. Isaiah would then write down the dialogue exchanged between YHWH and the angels. This form of revelation constitutes the major part of the text of the Book of Isaiah. The same formula of divine revelation is used by other prophets throughout the Tanakh, such as Micaiah in 1 Kings 22:19–22.[12][better source needed]

Epistemology

Members of Abrahamic religions, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, believe that God exists and can in some way reveal his will to people. Members of those religions distinguish between true prophets and false prophets, and there are documents offering criteria by which to distinguish true from false prophets. The question of epistemology then arises: how to know?

Some believe that revelation can originate directly from a deity or through an agent such as an angel. One who has experienced such contact with, or communication from, the divine is often called a prophet. An article (p. 555) under the heading "mysticism," and contributed by Ninian Smart, J. F. Rowny Professor of Comparative Religion, University of California, and President of the American Academy of Religion, writing in the 1999 edition of "The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought," (W. W. Norton & Co. Inc.), suggests that the more proper and wider term for such an encounter would be mystical, making such a person a mystic. All prophets would be mystics, but not all mystics would be prophets.

Revelation from a supernatural source is of lesser importance in some other religious traditions, such as Taoism and Confucianism.

In various religions

Bahá'í

'Revelation writing': The first draft of a tablet of Bahá'u'lláh
'Revelation writing': The first draft of a tablet of Bahá'u'lláh

The Báb, Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá received thousands of written enquiries, and wrote thousands of responses, hundreds of which amount to whole and proper books, while many are shorter texts, such as letters. In addition, the Bahá'í faith has large works which were divinely revealed in a very short time, as in a night, or a few days.[13] Additionally, because many of the works were first recorded by an amanuensis,[14] most were submitted for approval and correction and the final text was personally approved by the revelator.

Bahá'u'lláh would occasionally write the words of revelation down himself, but normally the revelation was dictated to his amanuensis, who sometimes recorded it in what has been called revelation writing, a shorthand script written with extreme speed owing to the rapidity of the utterance of the words. Afterwards, Bahá'u'lláh revised and approved these drafts. These revelation drafts and many other transcriptions of Bahá'u'lláh's writings, around 15,000 items, some of which are in his own handwriting, are kept in the International Bahá'í Archives in Haifa, Israel.[15][16][17]

Christianity

Many Christians believe in the possibility and even reality of private revelations, messages from God for individuals, which can come in a variety of ways. Montanism is an example in early Christianity and there are alleged cases today also.[18] However, Christians see as of a much higher level the revelation recorded in the collection of books known as the Bible. They consider these books to be written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They regard Jesus as the supreme revelation of God, with the Bible being a revelation in the sense of a witness to him.[19] The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that "the Christian faith is not a 'religion of the book.' Christianity is the religion of the 'Word of God', a word which is 'not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living".[20]

Gregory and Nix speak of Biblical inerrancy as meaning that, in its original form, the Bible is totally without error, and free from all contradiction, including the historical and scientific parts.[21] Coleman speaks of Biblical infallibility as meaning that the Bible is inerrant on issues of faith and practice but not history or science.[22] The Catholic Church speaks not about infallibility of Scripture but about its freedom from error, holding "the doctrine of the inerrancy of Scripture".[23] The Second Vatican Council, citing earlier declarations, stated: "Since everything asserted by the inspired authors or sacred writers must be held to be asserted by the Holy Spirit, it follows that the books of Scripture must be acknowledged as teaching solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation".[24][25] It added: "Since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in human fashion, the interpreter of Sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words."[26] The Reformed Churches believe in the Bible is inerrant in the sense spoken of by Gregory and Nix and "deny that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science".[27] The Westminster Confession of Faith speaks of "the infallible truth and divine authority" of the Scriptures.[28]

In the New Testament, Jesus treats the Old Testament as authoritative and says it "cannot be broken" (John 10:34–36). 2 Timothy 3:16 says: "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness". The Second Epistle of Peter claims that "no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20–21). It also speaks of Paul's letters as containing some things "hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures".[29]

This letter does not specify "the other Scriptures", nor does the term "all Scripture" in 2 Timothy indicate which writings were or would be breathed out by God and useful for teaching, since it does not preclude later works, such as the Book of Revelation and the Epistles of John may have been. The Catholic Church recognizes 73 books as inspired and forming the Bible (46 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament). The most common versions of the Bible that Protestants have today consist of 66 of these books. None of the 66 or 73 books gives a list of revealed books.

Theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher Paul Johannes Tillich (1886–1965), who sought to correlate culture and faith so that "faith need not be unacceptable to contemporary culture and contemporary culture need not be unacceptable to faith", argued that revelation never runs counter to reason (affirming Thomas Aquinas who said that faith is eminently rational), and that both poles of the subjective human experience are complementary.[30]

Karl Barth argued that God is the object of God’s own self-knowledge, and revelation in the Bible means the self-unveiling to humanity of the God who cannot be discovered by humanity simply through its own efforts. For him, the Bible is not The Revelation; rather, it points to revelation. Human concepts can never be considered as identical to God's revelation, and Scripture is written in human language, expressing human concepts. It cannot be considered identical with God's revelation. However, God does reveal himself through human language and concepts, and thus Christ is truly presented in scripture and the preaching of the church.

Latter Day Saint movement

Engraving
An 1893 engraving of Joseph Smith receiving the golden plates and other artifacts from the angel Moroni.

This denomination believes that the president of the church receives revelation directly from God for the direction of the church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and some other Latter Day Saint denominations claim to be led by revelation from God to a living prophet, who receives God’s word, just as Abraham, Moses, other ancient prophets and apostles did.

Latter-day Saints believe in an open scriptural canon, and in addition to the Bible and the Book of Mormon, have books of scripture containing the revelations of modern-day prophets such as the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. LDS Church leaders (from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) have taught during the church's General Conferences that conference talks which are "…[spoken as] moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture…".[31] In addition, many Mormons believe that ancient prophets in other regions of the world received revelations that resulted in additional scriptures that have been lost and may, one day, be forthcoming. Hence, the belief in continuing revelation. Latter Day Saints also believe that the United States Constitution is a divinely inspired document.[32][33]

Mormons sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as prophet, seer, and revelator—the only person on earth who receives revelation to guide the entire church. They also sustain the two counselors in the First Presidency, as well as the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as prophets, seers, and revelators.[34] They believe that God has followed a pattern of continued revelation to prophets throughout the history of mankind (KJV Luke 1:70)--both to establish doctrine and maintain its integrity, as well as to guide the church under changing world conditions.[35] When this pattern of revelation was broken, it was because the receivers of revelation had been rejected and often killed (Matt 23:31–37, Luke 11:47–51). In the meridian of time, Paul described prophets and apostles in terms of a foundation, with Christ as the cornerstone, which was built to prevent doctrinal shift—"that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Eph 2:20 and 4:11–14, see also Matt 16:17–18). To maintain this foundation, new apostles were chosen and ordained to replace those lost to death or transgression, as when Matthias was called by revelation to replace Judas (Acts 1:15–26). However, as intensifying persecution led to the imprisonment and martyrdom of the apostles, it eventually became impossible to continue the apostolic succession.[36] Once the foundation of apostles and prophets was lost, the integrity of Christian doctrine as established by Christ and the apostles began to be compromised by those who continued to develop doctrine despite not being called or authorized to receive revelation for the body of the church. In the absence of revelation, these post-apostolic theologians couldn’t help but introduce elements of human reasoning, speculation, and personal interpretation of scripture (2 Pet 1:19–20)—which over time led to the loss or corruption of various doctrinal truths, as well as the addition of new man-made doctrines. This naturally led to much disagreement and schism, which over the centuries culminated in the large number of Christian churches on the earth today. Mormons believe that God resumed his pattern of revelation when the world was again ready, by calling the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth.[37] Since that time there has been a consistent succession of prophets and apostles, which God has promised will not be broken before the Second Coming of Christ (Dan 2:44).[38]

Each member of the LDS Church is also confirmed a member of the church following baptism and given the "gift of the Holy Ghost" by which each member is encouraged to develop a personal relationship with that divine being and receive personal revelation for their own direction and that of their family. The Latter Day Saint concept of revelation includes the belief that revelation from God is available to all those who earnestly seek it with the intent of doing good. It also teaches that everyone is entitled to personal revelation with respect to his or her stewardship (leadership responsibility). Thus, parents may receive inspiration from God in raising their families, individuals can receive divine inspiration to help them meet personal challenges, church officers may receive revelation for those whom they serve, and so forth.

The important consequence of this is that each person may receive confirmation that particular doctrines taught by a prophet are true, as well as gain divine insight in using those truths for their own benefit and eternal progress. In the church, personal revelation is expected and encouraged, and many converts believe that personal revelation from God was instrumental in their conversion.[39] Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the LDS Church, summarized this church's belief concerning revelation by saying, "We believe… in the principle of direct revelation from God to man."[40] (Smith, 362)

Hinduism

Islam

Muhammad's Call to Prophecy and the First Revelation; leaf from a copy of the Majmac al-tawarikh (Compendium of Histories), ca. 1425; Timurid. From Herat, Afghanistan. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Muhammad's Call to Prophecy and the First Revelation; leaf from a copy of the Majmac al-tawarikh (Compendium of Histories), ca. 1425; Timurid. From Herat, Afghanistan. In The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Muslims believe that God (Arabic: ألله Allah) revealed his final message to all of existence through Muhammad via the angel Gabriel.[41] Muhammad is considered to have been the Seal of the Prophets and the last revelation, the Qur'an, is believed by Muslims to be the flawless final revelation of God to humanity, valid until the Last Day. The Qur'an claims to have been revealed word by word and letter by letter.[citation needed]

Muslims hold that the message of Islam is the same as the message preached by all the messengers sent by God to humanity since Adam. Muslims believe that Islam is the oldest of the monotheistic religions because it represents both the original and the final revelation of God to Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad.[42][43] Likewise, Muslims believe that every prophet received revelation in their lives, as each prophet was sent by God to guide mankind. Jesus is significant in this aspect as he received revelation in a twofold aspect, as Muslims believe he preached the Gospel while also having been taught the Torah.

According to Islamic traditions, Muhammad began receiving revelations from the age of 40, delivered through the angel Gabriel over the last 23 years of his life. The content of these revelations, known as the Qur'an,[44] was memorized and recorded by his followers and compiled from dozens of hafiz as well as other various parchments or hides into a single volume shortly after his death. In Muslim theology, Muhammad is considered equal in importance to all other prophets of God and to make distinction among the prophets is a sin, as the Qur'an itself promulgates equality between God's prophets.(Qur'an 3:84)

Many scholars have made the distinction between revelation and inspiration, which according to Muslim theology, all righteous people can receive. Inspiration refers to God inspiring a person to commit some action, as opposed to revelation, which only the prophets received. Moses's mother, Jochebed, being inspired to send the infant Moses in a cradle down the Nile river is a frequently cited example of inspiration, as is Hagar searching for water for the infant Ishmael.

Judaism

The term "revelation" is used in two senses in Jewish theology; it either denotes (1) what in rabbinical language is called "Gilluy Shekinah," a manifestation of God by some wondrous act of His which overawes man and impresses him with what he sees, hears, or otherwise perceives of His glorious presence; or it denotes (2) a manifestation of His will through oracular words, signs, statutes, or laws.[45]

In Judaism, issues of epistemology have been addressed by Jewish philosophers such as Saadiah Gaon (882–942) in his Book of Beliefs and Opinions; Maimonides (1135–1204) in his Guide for the Perplexed; Samuel Hugo Berman, professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University; Joseph Dov Soloveitchik (1903–1993), talmudic scholar and philosopher; Neil Gillman, professor of philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Elliot N. Dorff, professor of philosophy at the American Jewish University.

One of the major trends in modern Jewish philosophy was the attempt to develop a theory of Judaism through existentialism. One of the primary players in this field was Franz Rosenzweig. His major work, Star of Redemption, expounds a philosophy in which he portrays the relationships between God, humanity and world as they are connected by creation, revelation and redemption. Conservative Jewish philosophers Elliot N. Dorff and Neil Gillman take the existentialist philosophy of Rosenzweig as one of their starting points for understanding Jewish philosophy. (They come to different conclusions, however.)

Rabbinic Judaism, and contemporary Orthodox Judaism, hold that the Torah (Pentateuch) extant today is essentially the same one that the whole of the Jewish people received on Mount Sinai, from God, upon their Exodus from Egypt.[46] Beliefs that God gave a "Torah of truth" to Moses (and the rest of the people), that Moses was the greatest of the prophets, and that the Law given to Moses will never be changed, are three of the Thirteen Principles of Faith of Orthodox Judaism according to Maimonides.

Orthodox Judaism believes that in addition to the written Torah, God also revealed to Moses a set of oral teachings, called the Oral Torah. In addition to this revealed law, Jewish law contains decrees and enactments made by prophets, rabbis, and sages over the course of Jewish history. Haredi Judaism tends to regard even rabbinic decrees as being of divine origin or divinely inspired, while Modern Orthodox Judaism tends to regard them as being more potentially subject to human error, although due to the Biblical verse "Do not stray from their words" ("Deuteronomy 17:11) it is still accepted as binding law.

Conservative Judaism tends to regard both the Torah and the Oral law as not verbally revealed. The Conservative approach tends to regard the Torah as compiled by redactors in a manner similar to the Documentary Hypothesis. However, Conservative Jews also regard the authors of the Torah as divinely inspired, and many regard at least portions of it as originating with Moses. Positions can vary from the position of Joel Roth, following David Weiss HaLivni, that while the Torah originally given to Moses on Mount Sinai became corrupted or lost and had to be recompiled later by redactors, the recompiled Torah is nonetheless regarded as fully Divine and legally authoritative, to the position of Gordon Tucker that the Torah, while Divinely inspired, is a largely human document containing significant elements of human error, and should be regarded as the beginning of an ongoing process which is continuing today.[citation needed] Conservative Judaism regards the Oral Law as divinely inspired, but nonetheless subject to human error.

Reform and Reconstructionist Jews also accept the Documentary Hypothesis for the origin of the Torah, and tend to view all of the Oral law as an entirely human creation. Reform believe that the Torah is not a direct revelation from God, but is a document written by human ancestors, carrying human understanding and experience, and seeking to answer the question: 'What does God require of us?'. They believe that, though it contains many 'core-truths' about God and humanity, it is also time bound. They believe that God's will is revealed through the interaction of humanity and God throughout history, and so, in that sense, Torah is a product of an ongoing revelation. Reconstructionist Judaism denies the notion of revelation entirely.

Prophets

Although the Nevi'im (the books of the Prophets) are considered divine and true, this does not imply that the books of the prophets are always read literally. Jewish tradition has always held that prophets used metaphors and analogies. There exists a wide range of commentaries explaining and elucidating those verses consisting of metaphor. Rabbinic Judaism regards Moses as the greatest of the prophets, and this view is one of the Thirteen Principles of Faith of traditional Judaism. Consistent with the view that revelation to Moses was generally clearer than revelation to other prophets, Orthodox views of revelation to prophets other than Moses have included a range of perspectives as to directness. For example, Maimonides in The Guide for the Perplexed said that accounts of revelation in the Nevi'im were not always as literal as in the Torah and that some prophetic accounts reflect allegories rather than literal commands or predictions.

Conservative Rabbi and philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972), author of a number of works on prophecy, said that, "Prophetic inspiration must be understood as an event, not as a process."[47] In his work God in Search of Man, he discussed the experience of being a prophet. In his book Prophetic Inspiration After the Prophets: Maimonides and Others, Heschel references to continued prophetic inspiration in Jewish rabbinic literature following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and into medieval and even Modern times. He wrote that

"To convey what the prophets experienced, the Bible could either use terms of descriptions or terms of indication. Any description of the act of revelation in empirical categories would have produced a caricature. That is why all the Bible does is to state that revelation happened. How it happened is something they could only convey in words that are evocative and suggestive."[48]

Recent revelations

The miracle of the Sun is probably the best-known revelation of recent times, but while some still consider it to be a genuine miracle, others regard it as a natural phenomenon with a natural explanation.[49]

See also

References

  1. ^ Beale G.K., The Book of Revelation, NIGTC, Grand Rapids – Cambridge 1999. = ISBN 0-8028-2174-X
  2. ^ Esposito, John L. What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 7–8.
  3. ^ Lambert, Gray (2013). The Leaders Are Coming!. WestBow Press. p. 287. ISBN 9781449760137.
  4. ^ Roy H. Williams; Michael R. Drew (2012). Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future. Vanguard Press. p. 143. ISBN 9781593157067.
  5. ^ Maria Valtorta, The Poem of the Man God, ISBN 99926-45-57-1
  6. ^ Michael Freze, 1993, Voices, Visions, and Apparitions, OSV Publishing ISBN 0-87973-454-X p. 252
  7. ^ Michael Freze, 1989 They Bore the Wounds of Christ ISBN 0-87973-422-1
  8. ^ "Revelation | Define Revelation at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
  9. ^ "Joyce, George. "Revelation." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 13. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 3 May 2014". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  10. ^ Paine, Thomas (1987) [1794]. Foot, Michael; Kramnick, Isaac (eds.). The Thomas Paine Reader. New York: Penguin Books. p. 403. ISBN 0-14-044496-3.
  11. ^ God in Search of Man
  12. ^ "1 Kings 22 / Hebrew – English Bible / Mechon-Mamre". Mechon-mamre.org. Retrieved 2012-01-27.
  13. ^ "Book of Certitude: Dating the Iqan". Kalimat Press. 1995. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
  14. ^ The Writings of Baha'u'llah, Published in The Bahá'í World. 14. Bahá'í World Centre. pp. 620–32. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
  15. ^ "A new volume of Bahá'í sacred writings, recently translated and comprising Bahá'u'lláh's call to world leaders, is published". Bahá'í World Centre. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
  16. ^ Taherzadeh, A. (1976). The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 1: Baghdad 1853–63. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. ISBN 0-85398-270-8.
  17. ^ For extended comments on the divine revelation of the Báb, Bahá'u'lláh, and `Abdu'l-Bahá see Number of tablets revealed by Bahá'u'lláh by Robert Stockman and Juan Cole, Numbers and Classifications of Sacred Writings texts by the Universal House of Justice, and Horace Holley's preface of The Bahá'í Revelation, including Selections from the Bahá'í Holy Writings and Talks by `Abdu'l-Bahá.
  18. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church, 67". Vatican.va. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  19. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 426, 516.
  20. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed., para. 108
  21. ^ Geisler & Nix (1986). A General Introduction to the Bible. Moody Press, Chicago. ISBN 0-8024-2916-5.
  22. ^ Coleman, R. J. (1975). "Biblical Inerrancy: Are We Going Anywhere?". Theology Today. 31 (4): 295. doi:10.1177/004057367503100404.
  23. ^ "Cardinal Augustin Bea, "Vatican II and the Truth of Sacred Scripture"". Archived from the original on 2012-05-08. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  24. ^ "Second Vatican Council, ''Dei Verbum'' (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation), 11". Vatican.va. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  25. ^ "Catechism of the Catholic Church, 105-108". Vatican.va. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  26. ^ Dei Verbum, 12
  27. ^ Second Helvetic Confession, Of the Holy Scripture Being the True Word of God; Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, Online text
  28. ^ Wikisource:Confession of Faith Ratification Act 1690
  29. ^ 2 Peter 3:15–16
  30. ^ Systematic Theology I, by Paul Tillich, University of Chicago Press, 205. 0-226803-37-6. Paul Tillich. Systematic Theology. p. 307. ISBN 0-226-80336-8.
  31. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 68:4
  32. ^ Dallin H. Oaks (Feb 1992). "The Divinely Inspired Constitution". Ensign.
  33. ^ See D&C 101:77–80
  34. ^ "Prophets". Lds.org. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  35. ^ "Revelation". Lds.org. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  36. ^ "Gospel Principles Chapter 16: The Church of Jesus Christ in Former Times". Lds.org. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  37. ^ "Gospel Principles Chapter 17: The Church of Jesus Christ Today". Lds.org. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  38. ^ "The Church of Jesus Christ". Lds.org. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  39. ^ "Continuing Revelation". Mormon.org. Retrieved August 5, 2005.
  40. ^ Smith, Joseph F. "41: Continuing Revelation for the Benefit of the Church". Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. p. 362. ISBN 1-59955-103-9. Archived from the original on |archive-url= requires |archive-date= (help).
  41. ^ Watton (1993), "Introduction"
  42. ^ Esposito (2002b), pp.4–5
  43. ^ [Quran 42:13]
  44. ^ The term Qur'an was first used in the Qur'an itself. There are two different theories about this term and its formation that are discussed in Quran#Etymology
  45. ^ ""Revelation", Jewish Encyclopedia". Jewishencyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2014-05-12.
  46. ^ Rabbi Nechemia Coopersmith and Rabbi Moshe Zeldman: "Did God Speak at Sinai", Aish HaTorah
  47. ^ Heschel, Abraham Joshua (1955). God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. Noonday. p. 209. ISBN 0-374-51331-7.
  48. ^ Heschel, Abraham Joshua (1987). God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. ason Aronson Inc. ISBN 0-87668-955-1.
  49. ^ "The Lady of Fátima & the Miracle of the Sun". LiveScience.com. Retrieved 2015-10-13.

External links

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