Revelation/Talk

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We could use more discussion of the concept of Revelation in other religious and philosophical traditions.


RK or whoever has worked on this, it looks like a great treatment of the topic. Not sure how to fit these in, but I think there is also: Natural Revelation Some believe that God reveals himself through His Creation, and that at least some truths about Him can be learned by stuying Nature. "The heavens declare the glory of God" type of passages that you see a lot in Psalms and Job, etc.

The way I understand it, this fits as a part of the Aristotelian rationalist view of revelation. It certainly is the way that many Jewish rationalists have seen this issue. This should be noted in the main body of the text.

Regarding the whole Aristotelian thing, there was an interesting controversy in the 14th century between Barlaam of Calabria and Gregory Palamas. I'm about to oversimplify for the sake of brevity, but here goes. Barlaam was an Aristotelian who thought that the philosophers had a better understanding of God than did the prophets to whom God spoke directly. He observed the monks at Mount Athos, Greece, and derided them for spending too much time in contemplative prayer and not enough time studying. One of those monks, Gregory Palamas, was asked to defend them, and he claimed that the prophets had superior knowledge of God because it was more direct. One key issue was whether mortal man could apprehend or comprehend a transcendant God who is far beyond our understanding. Gregory thought that yes, God could give grace to a person and enable that man to see Himself. He also drew a sharp distinction between seeing God in his energies or works, and seeing God in his essence. For Gregory, to see God in his energies was possible through God's grace, to see God in his essence remained impossible because of God's transcendance and complete otherness. The two went back and forth for years; in the end, the West hailed Barlaam as a saint, and the East hailed Gregory Palamas as a saint. It's known as the hesychast controversy, at least in the East, and is probably the East's most recent major theological development.

Hope I haven't bored everyone to tears. --Wesley


I like a lot of things about this article, but I do have a quibble. I think that the statement, "The recipient of revelation is commonly referred to as a prophet, and sometimes may be termed a messenger" actually depends on the views on revelation. Some religions believe that divine revelation is potentially available to anyone, or that it is a collective or continuing process, not just an elect few who are designated as prophets. I don't think that sentence applies to those individuals. But I'm not quite sure how to incorporate that point into the body of the text. -- Egern


Well, Judaism fits what you describe. Some within Judaism (such as Maimonides) teach that potentially anyone might receive some form of prophecy; it also teaches that prophecy may be a collective or continuing process. (In fact, one of the terms used by Jewish theologians is progressive revelation.) No disagreement here. Judaism simply says that if one does happen to receive revelation, then that person should be termed a "prophet". You might be using a more traditional, restrictive definition of the word prophet, such as "one who has already been recognized as a prophet by the religious community." But the word prophet doesn't necessarily imply recognition; I think it merely means that a person has received some form of revelation. RK
Interesting. Quakers have a similar concept to what you described as the views of Maimonides. They usually refer to it as "continuing revelation", although I don't recall the term "prophet" being commonly used by Quakers to describe any recipients of revelation. But based on what you have told me, and since that sentence says "commonly" and "sometimes", I retract my objections.  :) -- Egern.