Christian Prophecy: The Post-Biblical Tradition

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9780195314472: Christian Prophecy: The Post-Biblical Tradition

Throughout the Hebrew Bible, God guides and saves his people through the words of his prophets. When the prophets are silenced, the people easily lose their way. What happened after the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ? Did God fall silent?

The dominant position in Christian theology is that prophecy did indeed cease at some point in the past -if not with the Old Testament prophets, then with John the Baptist, with Jesus, with the last apostle, or with the closure of the canon of the New Testament. Nevertheless, throughout the history of Christianity there have always been acclaimed saints and mystics -most of them women-who displayed prophetic traits. In recent years, the charismatic revival in both Protestant and Catholic circles has once again raised the question of the place and function of prophecy in Christianity. Scholarly theological attitudes toward Christian prophecy range from modest recognition to contempt. Mainstream systematic theology, both Protestant and Catholic, has mostly marginalized or ignored the gift of prophecy. In this book, however, Niels Christian Hvidt argues that prophecy has persisted in Christianity as an inherent and continuous feature in the life of the church. Prophecy never died, he argues, but rather proved its dynamism by mutating to meet new historical conditions. He presents a comprehensive history of prophecy from ancient Israel to the present and closely examines the development of the theological discourse that surrounds it. Throughout, though, there is always an awareness of the critical discernment required when evaluating the charism of prophecy.

The debate about prophecy, Hvidt shows, leads to some profound insights about the very nature of Christianity and the church. For example, some have argued that Christianity is a perfect state and that all that is required for salvation is acceptance of its doctrines. Others have emphasized how God continues to intervene and guide his people onto the right path as the full implementation of God's salvation in Christ is still far away. This is the position that Hvidt forcefully and persuasively defends and develops in this ambitious and important work.

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About the Author:


Niels Christian Hvidt earned his doctoral degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is currently Associate Professor in the Research Unit of Health, Man and Society at the University of Southern Denmark.

Review:


"Surprisingly, reflections on prophecy take the reader to the center of the Catholic theological tradition concerning God's revelation to the church. Prophecy represents 'the dynamism of liminality' for the renewal of the faithful life of the church."--Choice.


"That the prophetic impulse has never been silent in the church is widely held but rarely given the scholarly attention it deserves. Hvidt's comprehensive work remedies that lacuna in the theological literature. More admirably, he articulates the criteria necessary to judge the prophetic claim while demanding that we attend to the prophetic voice. This excellent study is a welcome addition to contemporary theological discussion with special pertinence to any serious work on the theology of revelation." --Lawrence S. Cunningham, John A. O'Brien Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame


"What is a prophet? Do prophets still exist? How can we distinguish prophet from charlatan? How does God communicate with the prophet? Is prophecy the main characteristic of Christian revelation? Are new visions compatible with a definitive revelation? Can the free and unpredictable features of prophecy be accommodated within an institution? Niels Christian Hvidt's amazing book replies in depth to these questions. His historical overview sheds important new light on contemporary issues. The reader discovers that this book was actually much needed." --Charles Morerod OP, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, Angelicum University, author of Ecumenism and Philosophy


"In this important book, Niels Hvidt focuses on the Catholic theological blackout on the controversial subject of the charism of prophecy. Hvidt first surveys the phenomenon of Christian prophecy from the Bible through to the 21st-century figure Vassuly Ryden. Then, working carefully and skillfully within the normative parameters of Catholic theology, he links continuing prophecy with the actualization of revelation in the church. This is an enormously significant contribution to a generally neglected and difficult subject." -- David E. Aune, University of Notre Dame, author of Prophecy in the New Testament and the Ancient Mediterranean World


"Many Christians think that the gift of prophecy, central to God's interaction with humanity in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, ended with the death of the last of the apostles, so that for almost two millennia the Church has enjoyed only dubious "private" revelations made to a few individuals and their immediate followers. Niels Christian Hvidt's ground-breaking historical and systematic study of prophecy shows that God has continued to speak to the whole Church through select witnesses in every age without, however, creating a new scriptural canon. This insightful book marks a new stage in the retrieval of the charism of prophecy and is a major contribution to contemporary discussion of prophecy, both within Christian theology and in the wider ecumenical perspective." --Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus, The University of Chicago Divinity School, author of The Presence of God: A History of Western Christian Mysticism


"A welcome addition to the current collection of scholarly research on Christian prophecy." --Pneuma


"This work should attract Pentecostal and Charismatic readers whose movements have led to an awakened interest in the Pauline gifts of the Spirit in modern Christianity, but have produced few analyses of the depth and breadth comparable to this volume." --Religious Studies Review


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