Revelation

Revelation

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In religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

 and theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural
Supernatural
The supernatural or is that which is not subject to the laws of nature, or more figuratively, that which is said to exist above and beyond nature...

 or a divine entity(s)
Divinity
Divinity and divine are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in...

. Some religions have religious texts which they view as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired
Supernatural revelation
Supernatural revelation refers to a communication between a living human being and a deity or other supernatural entity, e.g. an angel. Many religions not only accept supernatural revelations, but base their fundamental beliefs on such revelations...

.

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
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

 and traditional Christianity hold that the first five books of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 were dictated by God in such a fashion.

Aristotelian rationalism


The Aristotelian scholastic philosophers of the medieval era held that revelation was the discovery of absolute truths about God, man, and man's place in God's universe, as discovered through logical philosophical inquiry. A prophet's connection to God was held to be the only way that a person could reach such a state of pure reason.

Natural


Some people believe that God reveals himself through his creation, and that at least some truths about God can be learned by studying nature, physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

, cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

, etc. Adherents of this belief often dismiss the idea of divine texts or "scriptures". For, if one accepts that truth
Truth
Truth has a variety of meanings, such as the state of being in accord with fact or reality. It can also mean having fidelity to an original or to a standard or ideal. In a common usage, it also means constancy or sincerity in action or character...

 can be determined through the study of nature, physics, cosmology, etc., then that truth has evidently
Evidence
Evidence in its broadest sense includes everything that is used to determine or demonstrate the truth of an assertion. Giving or procuring evidence is the process of using those things that are either presumed to be true, or were themselves proven via evidence, to demonstrate an assertion's truth...

 existed longer than any divine text or scripture; it has been true, longer. Thus, natural revelation would be empiricist
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

. In contrast, adherents of idealism
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

 find support in Biblical verses such as "The heaven
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

s declare the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1-4).

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
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.-Biography:...

 has written 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."

However it is contended that the Bible does indeed state exactly how certain prophets received revelation. Such as Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

, who 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 bulk of the text of the Book of Isaiah
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, preceding the books of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and the Book of the Twelve...

. The same formula of divine revelation is used by other prophets throughout the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, such as Micaiah in 1 kings 22:19-22.

Historical faith development


Some, including John Henry Newman, believe that if we assume God has a non-anthropomorphic nature (which is debated), the above listed forms of revelation are, by definition, impossible. Instead, God's will is revealed through the interaction of man and God throughout history.

For instance, Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 Louis Jacobs proposes that by viewing how the Jewish people
Jews
The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

 have understood God's will throughout history, we see how God has actually influenced the development of Jewish law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

; it is this process that we should recognize as revelation.

Existentialism


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

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
Franz Rosenzweig
Franz Rosenzweig was an influential Jewish theologian and philosopher.-Early life:Franz Rosenzweig was born in Kassel, Germany to a middle-class, minimally observant Jewish family...

. His major work, Star of Redemption, gives 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
Elliot N. Dorff
Elliot N. Dorff is a Conservative rabbi. He is a professor of Jewish theology at the American Jewish University in California , author and a bio-ethicist....

 and Neil Gillman
Neil Gillman
Neil Gillman is an American rabbi and philosopher, affiliated with Conservative Judaism.-Biography:Gillman was born in Quebec City, Canada. He graduated from McGill University in 1954. He was ordained as a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1960. He received his Ph.D...

 take the existentialist philosophy of Rosensweig as one of their starting points for understanding Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

. (They come to distinct conclusions, however.)

Paul Johannes Tillich (1886–1965) was a theologian and Christian existentialist philosopher. Tillich was, along with contemporary Karl Barth, one of the more influential Protestant theologians of the twentieth century. Tillich's approach to Protestant theology was highly systematic. He sought to correlate culture and faith such that "faith need not be unacceptable to contemporary culture and contemporary culture need not be unacceptable to faith". Consequently, Tillich's orientation is apologetic, seeking to make concrete theological answers that are applicable to ordinary daily life. Tillich sought to reconcile revelation and reason by arguing that revelation never runs counter to reason (affirming Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 who said that faith is eminently rational), but both poles of the subjective human experience are complementary.

Tillich's radical departure from traditional Christian theology is his view of Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

. According to Tillich, Christ is the "New Being", who rectifies in himself the alienation between essence and existence. Essence fully shows itself within Christ, but Christ is also a finite man. This indicates, for Tillich, a revolution in the very nature of being. The gap is healed and essence can now be found within existence. Thus for Tillich, Christ is not God per se in himself, but Christ is the revelation of God. Whereas traditional Christianity regards Christ as wholly man and wholly God, Tillich believed that Christ was the emblem of the highest goal of man, what God wants men to become. Thus to be a Christian is to make oneself progressively "Christ-like", a very possible goal in Tillich's eyes.

According to Tillich, Christ is not God in the traditional sense, but reveals the essence inherent in all existence. Thus Christ is not different from mankind except insofar as he fully reveals God within his own finitude, something that can be done by anyone, in principle. In Tillich's book Systematic Theology I, he argued that: "God does not exist. He is being itself beyond essence and existence. Therefore to argue that God exists is to deny him."

Systematic theology


Systematic theology
Systematic theology
In the context of Christianity, systematic theology is a discipline of Christian theology that attempts to formulate an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the Christian faith and beliefs...

 is the attempt to formulate a coherent philosophy which is applicable to the component parts of a given faith's system of belief. While a systematic theology must take into account the sacred texts of its faith, it also looks to history, philosophy, science, and ethics to produce as full a view and as versatile a philosophical approach as possible.

Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

 believed in two types of revelation from God, general revelation
General revelation
General revelation is a term used by theologians which refers to a universal aspect of God, of God's knowledge and of spiritual matters, discovered through natural means, such as observation of nature , philosophy and reasoning, human conscience or providence or providential history...

and special revelation
Special revelation
Special revelation is a theological term used mainly by evangelical scientists and theologians which refers to the belief that knowledge of God and of spiritual matters can be discovered through supernatural means, such as miracles or the scriptures, a disclosure of God's truth through means other...

. General revelation occurs through observation of the created order. Such observations can logically lead to important conclusions, such as the existence of God.

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
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 and the Incarnation
Incarnation
Incarnation literally means embodied in flesh or taking on flesh. It refers to the conception and birth of a sentient creature who is the material manifestation of an entity, god or force whose original nature is immaterial....

, 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.

Karl Barth
Karl Barth
Karl Barth was a Swiss Reformed theologian whom critics hold to be among the most important Christian thinkers of the 20th century; Pope Pius XII described him as the most important theologian since Thomas Aquinas...

 tries to recover the Christian doctrine of the Trinity in theology from its putative loss in liberalism. His argument follows from the idea 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. Note here that the Bible is not The Revelation, rather, it points to revelation. Barth emphasizes again and again that human concepts can never be considered as identical to God's revelation. In this aspect, scripture is also written in human language, expressing human concepts. It cannot be considered as identical to God's revelation. However, God truly reveals himself through human language and concepts. Thus he claims that Christ is truly presented in scripture and the preaching of the church.

Prophets and epistemology


Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions
Abrahamic religions are the monotheistic faiths emphasizing and tracing their common origin to Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him...

, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam, take it as a matter of faith that God exists, and in some way can reveal his will to people. Members of those faiths distinguish between true prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

s and false prophet
False prophet
In religion, a false prophet is one who falsely claims the gift of prophecy, or who uses that gift for evil ends. Often, someone who is considered a "true prophet" by some people is simultaneously considered a "false prophet" by others....

s; and there are documents offering criteria with which to distinguish true from false prophets. The question of epistemology then arises (how to know?).

In Judaism
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

, issues of epistemology have been addressed by Jewish philosophers
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

 such as Saadiah Gaon (882–942) in his Book of Beliefs and Opinions
Emunoth ve-Deoth
Emunoth ve-Deoth or Emunoth w'D'oth written by Rabbi Saadia Gaon - originally Kitāb ul-ʾamānāt wal-iʿtiqādāt - was the first systematic presentation and philosophic foundation of the dogmas of Judaism. The work is prefaced by an introduction and has ten chapters; it was completed in 933...

; Maimonides
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 (1135–1204) in his Guide for the Perplexed
Guide for the Perplexed
The Guide for the Perplexed is one of the major works of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, better known as Maimonides or "the Rambam"...

; Samuel Hugo Berman
Hugo Bergmann
Samuel Hugo Bergman, or Samuel Bergman was a German and Israeli Jewish philosopher.-Biography:...

, professor of philosophy at the Hebrew University; Joseph Dov Soloveitchik (1903–1993), talmudic scholar and philosopher; Neil Gillman
Neil Gillman
Neil Gillman is an American rabbi and philosopher, affiliated with Conservative Judaism.-Biography:Gillman was born in Quebec City, Canada. He graduated from McGill University in 1954. He was ordained as a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 1960. He received his Ph.D...

, professor of philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Jewish Theological Seminary of America
The Jewish Theological Seminary of America is one of the academic and spiritual centers of Conservative Judaism, and a major center for academic scholarship in Jewish studies.JTS operates five schools: Albert A...

, and Elliot N. Dorff
Elliot N. Dorff
Elliot N. Dorff is a Conservative rabbi. He is a professor of Jewish theology at the American Jewish University in California , author and a bio-ethicist....

, professor of philosophy at the American Jewish University.

It is believed by some that revelation can originate directly from a deity
Deity
A deity is a recognized preternatural or supernatural immortal being, who may be thought of as holy, divine, or sacred, held in high regard, and respected by believers....

, or through an agent, such as an angel
Angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...

. 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
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

. 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
Taoism
Taoism refers to a philosophical or religious tradition in which the basic concept is to establish harmony with the Tao , which is the mechanism of everything that exists...

 and Confucianism
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

; but similarities have been noted between the Abrahamic view of revelation and the Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 principle of Enlightenment
Bodhi
Bodhi is both a Pāli and Sanskrit word traditionally translated into English with the word "enlightenment", but which means awakened. In Buddhism it is the knowledge possessed by a Buddha into the nature of things...

.

Judaism


Rabbinic Judaism, and contemporary Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism
Orthodox Judaism , is the approach to Judaism which adheres to the traditional interpretation and application of the laws and ethics of the Torah as legislated in the Talmudic texts by the Sanhedrin and subsequently developed and applied by the later authorities known as the Gaonim, Rishonim, and...

, hold that the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 (Pentateuch) extant today is essentially the same one that the whole of the Jewish people received on Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai
Mount Sinai , also known as Mount Horeb, Mount Musa, Gabal Musa , Jabal Musa meaning "Moses' Mountain", is a mountain near Saint Catherine in the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt. A mountain called Mount Sinai is mentioned many times in the Book of Exodus in the Torah and the Bible as well as the Quran...

, from God, upon their Exodus from Egypt. 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
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

. Maimonides explains: "We do not know exactly how the Torah was transmitted to Moses. But when it was transmitted, Moses merely wrote it down like a secretary taking dictation…(Thus) every verse in the Torah is equally holy, as they all originate from God, and are all part of God's Torah, which is perfect, holy and true."

Orthodox Judaism believes that in addition to the written Torah, God also revealed to Moses a set of oral teachings, called the Oral Torah
Oral Torah
The Oral Torah comprises the legal and interpretative traditions that, according to tradition, were transmitted orally from Mount Sinai, and were not written in the Torah...

. In addition to this revealed law, Jewish law
Halakha
Halakha — also transliterated Halocho , or Halacha — is the collective body of Jewish law, including biblical law and later talmudic and rabbinic law, as well as customs and traditions.Judaism classically draws no distinction in its laws between religious and ostensibly non-religious life; Jewish...

 contains decrees and enactments made by prophets, rabbis, and sages over the course of Jewish history. Haredi Judaism
Haredi Judaism
Haredi or Charedi/Chareidi Judaism is the most conservative form of Orthodox Judaism, often referred to as ultra-Orthodox. A follower of Haredi Judaism is called a Haredi ....

 tends to regard even rabbinic decrees as being of divine origin or divinely inspired, while Modern Orthodox Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism
Modern Orthodox Judaism is a movement within Orthodox Judaism that attempts to synthesize Jewish values and the observance of Jewish law, with the secular, modern world....

 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
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical 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
Documentary hypothesis
The documentary hypothesis , holds that the Pentateuch was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors...

. 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
Joel Roth
Joel Roth is a prominent American rabbi in the Rabbinical Assembly, which is the rabbinical body of Conservative Judaism. He is a former member and chair of the assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards which deals with questions of Jewish law and tradition, and serves as the Louis...

, following David Weiss HaLivni
David Weiss Halivni
David Weiss Halivni is an American-Israeli rabbi, scholar in the domain of Jewish Sciences and professor of Talmud.-Biography:...

, 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
Gordon Tucker
Gordon Tucker is a prominent rabbi, with a reputation as both a political and a theological liberal in Conservative Judaism. He currently has a position as senior rabbi of Temple Israel Center in White Plains, New York.-Education and career:...

 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. 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. Accordingly, Progressive Judaism
Progressive Judaism
Progressive Judaism , is an umbrella term used by strands of Judaism which affiliate to the World Union for Progressive Judaism. They embrace pluralism, modernity, equality and social justice as core values and believe that such values are consistent with a committed Jewish life...

, Reform
Reform Judaism
Reform Judaism refers to various beliefs, practices and organizations associated with the Reform Jewish movement in North America, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. In general, it maintains that Judaism and Jewish traditions should be modernized and should be compatible with participation in the...

 and Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism
Reconstructionist Judaism is a modern American-based Jewish movement based on the ideas of Mordecai Kaplan . The movement views Judaism as a progressively evolving civilization. It originated as a branch of Conservative Judaism, before it splintered...

, believe that the Torah is not entirely a direct revelation
Direct revelation
Direct revelation is a term used by some Christian churches to express their belief in a communication from God to a person, by words, impression, visions, dreams or actual appearance. Direct revelation is believed to be an open communication between God and man, or the Holy Spirit and man, without...

 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, sexist, primitive, and, sometimes, simply wrong. They believe that God's will is revealed through the interaction of humanity and God throughout history, and so, in that sense, Torah is an important part, but only a part, of an ongoing revelation.

Prophets


The Nevi'im
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

, 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
Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism or Rabbinism has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Talmud...

 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
Maimonides
Moses ben-Maimon, called Maimonides and also known as Mūsā ibn Maymūn in Arabic, or Rambam , was a preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher and one of the greatest Torah scholars and physicians of the Middle Ages...

 in The Guide for the Perplexed said that accounts of revelation in the Nevi'im
Nevi'im
Nevi'im is the second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. It falls between the Torah and Ketuvim .Nevi'im is traditionally divided into two parts:...

 were not always as literal as in the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and that some prophetic accounts reflect allegories rather than literal commands or predictions.

Conservative
Conservative Judaism
Conservative Judaism is a modern stream of Judaism that arose out of intellectual currents in Germany in the mid-19th century and took institutional form in the United States in the early 1900s.Conservative Judaism has its roots in the school of thought known as Positive-Historical Judaism,...

 Rabbi
Rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

 and philosopher
Jewish philosophy
Jewish philosophy , includes all philosophy carried out by Jews, or, in relation to the religion of Judaism. Jewish philosophy, until modern Enlightenment and Emancipation, was pre-occupied with attempts to reconcile coherent new ideas into the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism; thus organizing...

 Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel
Abraham Joshua Heschel was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century.-Biography:...

 (1907–1972), author of a number of works on prophecy, said that, "Prophetic inspiration must be understood as an event, not as a process." 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
Rabbinic literature
Rabbinic literature, in its broadest sense, can mean the entire spectrum of rabbinic writings throughout Jewish history. However, the term often refers specifically to literature from the Talmudic era, as opposed to medieval and modern rabbinic writing, and thus corresponds with the Hebrew term...

 following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

 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."

Christianity



Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 regards varied collections of books
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

 known as the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 as authoritative and written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

. However, it should be noted that the mainstream tradition regards Jesus as the supreme revelation of God, with the Bible being a revelation in the sense of a witness to him. The Catholic Catechism 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"

Some Christians believe that the Bible is inerrant
Biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is accurate and totally free of error, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact." Some equate inerrancy with infallibility; others do not.Conservative Christians generally believe that...

 (in its original form, totally without error, and free from all contradiction, including the historical and scientific parts) or infallible
Biblical infallibility
Biblical infallibility is the belief that what the Bible says regarding matters of faith and Christian practice is wholly useful and true. It is the "belief that the Bible is completely trustworthy as a guide to salvation and the life of faith and will not fail to accomplish its purpose...

 (inerrant on issues of faith and practice but not history or science). In the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 treats the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 as authoritative and says it "cannot be broken" (John 10:34–36). 2 Timothy 3:16 says: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correction and training in righteousness", and the Second Epistle of Peter
Second Epistle of Peter
The Second Epistle of Peter, often referred to as Second Peter and written 2 Peter or in Roman numerals II Peter , is a book of the New Testament of the Bible, traditionally ascribed to Saint Peter, but in modern times NT scholars regard it as pseudepigraphical.It is the first New Testament book...

 claims that "no prophecy of Scripture … was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

" (2 Pet 1:20–21). That epistle also claims divine authority
Authority
The word Authority is derived mainly from the Latin word auctoritas, meaning invention, advice, opinion, influence, or command. In English, the word 'authority' can be used to mean power given by the state or by academic knowledge of an area .-Authority in Philosophy:In...

 for the Apostles (3:2) and includes Paul's letters as being counted with the Scriptures
Religious text
Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition...

 (3:16), see Development of the New Testament canon
Development of the New Testament canon
The Canon of the New Testament is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the New Testament of the Christian Bible. For most, it is an agreed-upon list of twenty-seven books that includes the Canonical Gospels, Acts, letters of the Apostles, and Revelation...

 for details.

Historians note that the doctrine of the Bible's infallibility was actually adopted hundreds of years after those books were written. The first formal confession of the Bible's inspiration and infallibility as a basis for its authority is in the Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...

.

The most common versions of the Bible that Protestant Christians have today consist of 66 books determined mainly by the Council of Nicaea to be those "authoritative works". This "package" consisting of the entirety of the 66 books is what most Protestant Christians today consider to be "the Bible". Roman Catholic Christians, however, recognize 73 books as canonical (46 books of the Old Testament
Development of the Old Testament canon
The Old Testament is the first section of the two-part Christian Biblical canon, which includes the books of the Hebrew Bible or protocanon and in some Christian denominations also includes several Deuterocanonical books or Biblical apocrypha...

 and 27 books of the New Testament). While none of the 66 books of the Protestant Bible refer specifically to the set of exactly 66 books as a whole, they do make references such as the term "all scripture" as used in 2 Timothy
Second Epistle to Timothy
The Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to simply as Second Timothy and often written 2 Timothy, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament...

 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God". In this case, the term "all scripture" is used to mean all "authoritative works" of the Bible. At the time 2 Timothy was written, there were more "authoritative works" to come, such as the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 and the Epistles of John
Epistles of John
Three books in the New Testament, thought to have been written between 90-100, are collectively called the Epistles of John:*First Epistle of John*Second Epistle of John*Third Epistle of JohnThe traditional author of these letters is John the Evangelist....

. However, the term "all scripture" was used in 2 Timothy in a general way implying "all divinely given, authoritative works of scripture". The term does not preclude books written subsequent to 2 Timothy from being included in the definition. Hence, it can be said that the Bible does refer to itself as a whole in references such as in 2 Timothy. In addition, since this reference in 2 Timothy refers to "all scripture" as being "given by inspiration of God", it carries the implication of the whole set of "authoritative works" as being given by inspiration of God, even though the identification of exactly what those "authoritative works" were would be a source of future controversy in the minds of men. Therefore it can be said that in this sense the Bible does refer to itself as a whole, and it moreover declares itself to be both authoritative and divinely inspired.

In addition, for the Protestant Christian it may be inferred that the Bible cannot both refer to itself as being divinely inspired and also be errant or fallible. For if the Bible were divinely inspired, then the source of inspiration being divine, would not be subject to fallibility or error in that which is produced. If the Bible is errant or fallible, it cannot be inspired for the God who is presented in it being infallible and inerrant cannot produce that which is faulty or in error. To do so would require him to change the essential nature that inspired Bible attributes to him. Therefore the doctrines of the infallibility, the inerrancy, and the divine inspiration of the Bible, although having their particular individual meanings, are inseparably tied together for the Christian who accepts the inspiration of the Bible. Some Christians hold that as God possesses all three of these attributes
Attributes of God
The Attributes of God in Christian theology are those characteristics of God revealed in the Bible.-Classification:Many Reformed theologians distinguish between the communicable attributes and the incommunicable attributes...

, they draw the conclusion that the inspired Bible possesses them also, while other Christians would consider that conclusion to be a form of Bibliolatry
Bibliolatry
Bibliolatry is the worship of a particular book. See also Idolatry and Idolatry and Christianity.-Bibliolatry in Christianity:...

.

Therefore, although these doctrine
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

s may not have yet been formally stated in the councils and creeds of the church fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 prior to the First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
The First Council of Nicaea was a council of Christian bishops convened in Nicaea in Bithynia by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in AD 325...

 in 325, a period referred to as Early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

, they were from the beginning present in the scriptures of the church that formed the basis of those ecclesial councils and creeds. Hence the revelation of God to man, as held by Christians to be given in the Bible, is acknowledged to be inspired, inerrant, and infallible, by those who hold to those beliefs.

Latter Day Saint movement




This denomination claims 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 (or LDS Church) and some other Latter Day Saint denominations claim to be led by revelation from God to a living prophet
Prophet, seer, and revelator
Prophet, seer, and revelator is an ecclesiastical title used in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that is currently applied to the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles...

, who receives God’s word, just as Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, other ancient prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

s and apostles did.

Latter-day Saints believe in an open scriptural canon, and in addition to the Bible
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 and the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2600 BC to AD 421. It was first published in March 1830 by Joseph Smith, Jr...

, have books of scripture containing the revelations of modern-day prophets such as the Doctrine and Covenants
Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a part of the open scriptural canon of several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement...

 and the Pearl of Great Price
Pearl of Great Price (Mormonism)
The Pearl of Great Price is part of the standard works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and some other Latter Day Saint denominations....

. LDS Church leaders (from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is one of the governing bodies in the church hierarchy...

) have taught during the church's General Conference
General conference (Mormonism)
In the Latter Day Saint movement, a general conference is a meeting for all members of the church for conducting general church business and instruction....

s that conference talks which are "…[spoken as] moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture…". 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
United States Constitution
The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the United States of America. It is the framework for the organization of the United States government and for the relationship of the federal government with the states, citizens, and all people within the United States.The first three...

 is a divinely inspired document.

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
Stewardship
Stewardship is an ethic that embodies responsible planning and management of resources. The concept of stewardship has been applied in diverse realms, including with respect to environment, economics, health, property, information, and religion, and is linked to the concept of sustainability...

 (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. Joseph F. Smith
Joseph F. Smith
Joseph Fielding Smith, Sr. was the sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...

, 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." (Smith, 362)

Islam




Divine revelation plays a very important role in the Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic faith. While religious books of most faiths acknowledge their human author's contribution to the divine text, the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 claims to have been revealed word by word and letter by letter. Muslims believe that God revealed his final message to humanity through Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

 (c. 570 - July 6, 632) via the angel Gabriel
Gabriel
In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel is an Archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God.He first appears in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel's visions. In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus...

. Muhammad is considered to have been God's last law-bearing prophet
Seal of the Prophets
Seal of the Prophets is a title given to the Islamic prophet Muhammad by a verse in the Qur'an. Muslims traditionally agree upon that Muhammad received the final revelation in the form of the Qur'an for all mankind, for all time....

. Muhammad's revelations form the holy book of Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

, the Qur'an. The Qur'an is believed by Muslims to be the flawless final revelation of God to humanity, valid until the Last Day.

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. From an Islamic point of view, Islam is the oldest of the monotheistic religions because it represents both the original and the final revelation of God to Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

, David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, and Muhammad
Muhammad
Muhammad |ligature]] at U+FDF4 ;Arabic pronunciation varies regionally; the first vowel ranges from ~~; the second and the last vowel: ~~~. There are dialects which have no stress. In Egypt, it is pronounced not in religious contexts...

. Likewise, Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s believe that every prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

 received revelation in their lives, as each prophet was sent by God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 to guide mankind. Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 is significant in this aspect as he received revelation in a twofold aspect, as Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

s believe he preached the Gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

 while also having been taught the Torah
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

.

According to Islamic traditions, Muhammad began receiving revelations from God (Arabic: ألله Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

) 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, 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. The Qur'an, along with the details of Muhammad’s life as recounted by his biographers and his contemporaries
Sahaba
In Islam, the ' were the companions, disciples, scribes and family of the Islamic prophet...

, forms the basis of Islamic theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

. Within Islam, he is considered the seal of the Prophets (Quran 33:40) and equally important as all other prophets of God. In Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, to make distinction amongst the prophets is a sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

, as the Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 itself promulgates equality between God's prophets.

Many scholars have made the distinction between revelation and inspiration. Inspiration, according to Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, all righteous people can receive. Inspiration refers to when God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 inspires a person to commit some action, as opposed to revelation, which only the prophet
Prophet
In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning "foreteller", is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people...

s received. Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

's mother, Jochebed
Jochebed
According to the Torah, Jochebed was a daughter of Levi and mother of Aaron, Miriam and Moses. She was the wife of Amram, as well as his aunt. No details are given concerning her life. According to Jewish legend, Jochebed is buried in the Tomb of the Matriarchs, in Tiberias.-Birth of Moses:The...

, being inspired to send the infant Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 in a cradle down the Nile river is a frequently cited example of inspiration, as is Hagar
Hagar
-People:* Hagar , handmaid of Sarah and mother of Abraham's son Ishmael* Hagar Finer, Israeli WIBF bantamweight champion* Albert Hagar, Canadian politician* Mandy Hagar, New Zealand children's author...

 searching for water for the infant Ishmael
Ishmael
Ishmael is a figure in the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, and was Abraham's first born child according to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Ishmael was born of Abraham's marriage to Sarah's handmaiden Hagar...

.

Bahá'í




The Báb
Báb
Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází was the founder of Bábism, and one of three central figures of the Bahá'í Faith. He was a merchant from Shíráz, Persia, who at the age of twenty-four claimed to be the promised Qá'im . After his declaration he took the title of Báb meaning "Gate"...

, Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh
Bahá'u'lláh , born ' , was the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. He claimed to be the prophetic fulfilment of Bábism, a 19th-century outgrowth of Shí‘ism, but in a broader sense claimed to be a messenger from God referring to the fulfilment of the eschatological expectations of Islam, Christianity, and...

 and `Abdu'l-Bahá
`Abdu'l-Bahá
‘Abdu’l-Bahá , born ‘Abbás Effendí, was the eldest son of Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith. In 1892, `Abdu'l-Bahá was appointed in his father's will to be his successor and head of the Bahá'í Faith. `Abdu'l-Bahá was born in Tehran to an aristocratic family of the realm...

 received thousands of written enquiries, and wrote thousands of responses, hundreds of which amount to whole and proper books, while many are the shorter texts, 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. Additionally, because many of the works were first recorded by an amanuensis
Amanuensis
Amanuensis is a Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour...

, 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 the writings of Bahá'u'lláh's, circa 15,000 items, some of which are in his own handwriting, are kept in the International Bahá'í Archives in Haifa
Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.

Criticism


The concept of supernatural revelation has been criticized by atheists, agnostics and deists. In his 18th-century
book The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a deistic pamphlet, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, that criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, the central sacred text of...

, Thomas Paine
Thomas Paine
Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

 summarized these criticisms and advocated reason
Reason
Reason is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs. It is closely associated with such characteristically human activities as philosophy, science, language, ...

 in the place of revelation, leading him to reject miracle
Miracle
A miracle often denotes an event attributed to divine intervention. Alternatively, it may be an event attributed to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader. A miracle is sometimes thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature. Others suggest that a god may work with the laws...

s. Paine wrote that a revelation can only be considered valid for the original recipient. When it is then communicated by the recipient to a second person, it becomes hearsay, a secondhand accounting, and consequently the second person is not obliged to believe it:

"… it is hearsay upon hearsay, and I do not choose to rest my belief on such evidence."

See also


  • Book of Revelation
    Book of Revelation
    The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

  • Continuous revelation
    Continuous revelation
    Continuous revelation or continuing revelation is a theological belief or position that God continues to reveal divine principles or commandments to humanity...

  • Darśana
  • Disciple (Christianity)
    Disciple (Christianity)
    In Christianity, the disciples were the students of Jesus during his ministry. While Jesus attracted a large following, the term disciple is commonly used to refer specifically to "the Twelve", an inner circle of men whose number perhaps represented the twelve tribes of Israel...

  • Epistemology
  • Gnosis
    Gnosis
    Gnosis is the common Greek noun for knowledge . In the context of the English language gnosis generally refers to the word's meaning within the spheres of Christian mysticism, Mystery religions and Gnosticism where it signifies 'spiritual knowledge' in the sense of mystical enlightenment.-Related...

  • God helmet
    God helmet
    God Helmet refers to an experimental apparatus used in neuroscience, primarily in the field of neurotheology. Originally called the "Koren helmet" after its inventor Stanley Koren, it was conceived to study creativity and the effects of subtle stimulation of the mesiobasal temporal lobes...

  • Hierophany
    Hierophany
    The term "hierophany" signifies a manifestation of the sacred.-In Mircea Eliade's writings:...

  • Holy spirit
    Holy Spirit
    Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of the Hebrew Bible, but understood differently in the main Abrahamic religions.While the general concept of a "Spirit" that permeates the cosmos has been used in various religions Holy Spirit is a term introduced in English translations of...

  • Intuition (knowledge)
    Intuition (knowledge)
    Intuition is the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason. "The word 'intuition' comes from the Latin word 'intueri', which is often roughly translated as meaning 'to look inside'’ or 'to contemplate'." Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot necessarily justify...


  • Jean-Luc Marion
    Jean-Luc Marion
    Jean-Luc Marion is among the best-known living philosophers in France, former student of Jacques Derrida and one of the leading Catholic thinkers of modern times. Marion's take on the postmodern is informed by his expertise in patristic and mystical theology, phenomenology, and modern philosophy...

  • Nous
    Nous
    Nous , also called intellect or intelligence, is a philosophical term for the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, very close in meaning to intuition...

  • Oracle
    Oracle
    In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

  • Private revelation
    Private revelation
    In the teaching of the Catholic Church, a private revelation refers to visions and revelations from God to a specific Christian which have taken place since the completion of the New Testament...

  • Progressive revelation (Christian)
    Progressive revelation (Christian)
    Progressive revelation in Christianity is the concept that the sections of the Bible that were written later contain a fuller revelation of God compared to the earlier sections. For instance, the theologian Charles Hodge wrote,...

  • Prophecy
    Prophecy
    Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

  • Religious experience
    Religious experience
    Religious experience is a subjective experience in which an individual reports contact with a transcendent reality, an encounter or union with the divine....

  • Revelation (The Urantia Book)
  • Theology
    Theology
    Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

  • Theophany
    Theophany
    Theophany, from the Ancient Greek , meaning "appearance of God"), refers to the appearance of a deity to a human or other being, or to a divine disclosure....