Last updated: December, 2009: Inclusion of Syllabus.

Foundations of Biblical Prophecy

Class Outline
Winter, 2007

Biblical Theological Seminary


J. Robert Vannoy

Emeritus Professor,
Biblical Theological Seminary

This electronic edition was prepared by Dr. David C. Bossard
from original documents.

March, 2007.

Electronic Version Copyright © 2007 by Dr. J. Robert Vannoy. All Rights Reserved.

This course includes the course outline (below), powerpoint slides, and audio lectures.  The slides and audio lectures are keyed to the outline.


"Foundations in Biblical Prophecy" has a twofold purpose:  1) to introduce the student to the phenomena of "prophecy" in Ancient Israel, and 2) to familiarize the student with the general content of the prophetic corpus of the Old Testament.  The first purpose will be accomplished by classroom discussion of such questions as: did all of Israel's prophets receive a special "call" to their prophetic task; how is the origin of prophetism in Israel to be explained; are there analogies to Israel's prophetism to be found among other ancient peoples; how could the ancient Israelite distinguish between a true and a false prophet; were the prophets cultic functionaries; were the prophets writers; does biblical prophecy have apologetic value, etc.  Beyond these general features of the prophetic phenomena in the Old Testament, attention will be given to hermeneutical principles that are important for a proper interpretation of the Old Testament prophetic writings.  This will include discussion of such things as the prophetic time perspective, the conditionality of prophetic statements, and the idea of double sense or double reference in prophetic statements.  The student will read each of the major and minor prophetic books along with C. H. Bullock's An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books.  Interpretive issues in the books of Obadiah, Joel, Jonah and Amos will be discussed in the classroom.

    Note: Truetype fonts "hebrew" and "greek" are used in the outline and in some of the slides. They are available as shareware from Galaxie.

Class Syllabus:   web (htm)  word(.doc) Acrobat (pdf) 

Slides for the course:
htm format
powerpoint (ppt) format.

Class Lectures
Lecture 1     part a (1h 25m)  part b (0h 57m)
a.Intro. to I.C.3
Lecture 2     part a  (1h 15m)  part b  (0h 59m) a. I.F.2.
b. II.E.

Lecture 3     part a (1h 03m)   part b (1h 13m) a. III.A.1.e.
b. III.C. (Dt.18:9-22)
Lecture 4     part a  (1h 25m)  part b  (1h 01m) a. IV.C.3.
b. V.C.2.c.

Lecture 5     part a  (1h 03m)  part b  (1h 11m)
a. VI.B.4.
b. VII.A.3.

Lecture 6     part a  (1h 24m)  part b   (0h 58m) a.  VIII.B.1.b.
b.  VIII.B.2.c.

Lecture 7     part a (1h 03m)   part b   (1h 03m) a: IX.A.2
b: IX.B.1
Lecture 8     part a  (1h 03m)  part b  (1h 03m) a: IX.B.4
b. X.A.
Lecture 9     part a  (1h 03m)  part b   (1h 03m) a: Obadiah C.
b: Joel III.B.
Lecture 10   part a  (1h 03m)  part b   (1h 03m) a: Joel B.4.b.1.c
b. Jonah A.

Lecture 11   part a  (1h 03m)  part b   (1h 03m) a: Jonah C.
b: Amos 9.


C. Hassell Bullock, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books.
Chicago: Moody Press, 1986.

Elizabeth Achtemeier, “Preaching from the Prophets,” (Chapter 7, pp. 109-135)
in Preaching From the Old Testament.  Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1989.

Elizabeth Achtemeier, Preaching from the Minor Prophets. Grand
    Rapids:Eerdmans, 1998. 
Donald Leggett, Loving God and Disturbing Men.  Preaching from the Prophets.  Bowmanville, Canada: Clements Publishing, 2003, Revised Edition.

Class Lecture Outline
See links for an expanded outline and Citations]
Expanded outlines are available in Word (.doc), Web (.htm) or Acrobat (.pdf) format.

I.    Prophetism in ancient Israel - general remarks.  Begin Audio Lecture 1a.
Expanded outline of Section I: Word   Web   Acrobat

A.    A unique phenomenon.

B.    The prophets were servants of God, invested with the prophetic function.
1.    Some of the prophets received a special call to the prophetic task.
2.    For some prophets no special calling is recorded, but all the prophets demonstrate awareness that they are endowed with the prophetic function.
3.    The endowment with the prophetic function was a power that no prophet could resist.

C.    The function of the prophet is the proclamation of the Word of God.
1.    Expressions with which the prophets introduce their sermons are indicative that the message is God's, not their own.
2.    The prophet must declare God's Word, regardless of whether or not this is pleasant to him.
3.    There is a distinction between the prophet's own word and the Word of God which they spoke. Begin Audio Lecture 1b.

D.    The phenomenon of Israel's prophets is as old as the history of Israel itself.

E.    Besides male prophets, Israel also had her prophetesses.

F.    Besides individual prophets, there are also bands or companies of prophets referred to in the O.T.
1.    References to the prophetic bands or companies.
2.    Members of these companies came to be called <ya!yb!N+h^ yn}B=
Begin Audio Lecture 2a.
3.    The term "school of the prophets."
4.    The companies of the prophets apparently lived in their own communities.
5.    The degeneration of the prophetic function within the companies.
6.    The canonical prophets are distinguished from these companies.

G.    The canonical prophets, or writing prophets.

II.    The prophetic nomenclature

A.    The most general name is "the man of God."   

B.    "Servant of the Lord."

C.    "The messenger of the Lord."

D.    aybn
1.    Etymology of aybn.
2.    Usage of the word  aybn.

E.    ha#r)  Begin Audio Lecture 2b.

F.    hz#oj

III.    The origin of prophetism in Israel.

A.    Alleged analogies to Israel's prophetism in other nations.
Expanded outline of Section IIIA: Word   Web   Acrobat

1.    Mesopotamian analogies.
a.    Letter of Itur-asdu to Zimrilim.
b.    Letter of Kibri-Dagan to Zimrilim.
c.    Letter of Kibri-Dagan to Zimrilim.
d.    Letter of Kibri-Dagan.
e.    Conclusion regarding Mesopotamian analogies. Begin Audio Lecture 3a.

2.    Egyptian analogies.
a.    Admonitions of Ipu-wer.
b.    Prophecy of Nefer-rohu.    

3.    Canaanite analogies

4.    Conclusion

B.    Internal Israelite explanations for the origin of prophetism.
Expanded outline of Section IIIB.: Word   Web   Acrobat

1.    Religious genius of Israel itself.
2.    Religious consciousness of the prophets.

C.    Prophetism in Israel according to the witness of the Old Testament finds its origin in God and must be viewed as a gift of God to his people (Deut. 18:9-22). Begin Audio Lecture 3b.

IV.    The ways and means of God's revelation to the prophets.
Expanded outline of Section IV: Word   Web   Acrobat

A.    Prophetic seeing and hearing the word of God.

B.    The function of the Holy Spirit in the revelation of God to the prophets.

1.    Some biblical passages which have a bearing on the function of the Holy Spirit in the revelation of God to the prophets.

2.    The Holy Spirit, ecstasy, and the prophets.
a.    Mowinckel - Spirit and ecstasy belong together.
b.    Sometimes the Holy Spirit produces abnormal behavior described
    as prophesying.
c.    Must not exaggerate this into more than the Bible says.
d.    To admit abnormal behavior does not mean derivation from
    heathen practices.
e.    The Bible does not indicate that the coming of the Spirit on a man
    always brings about abnormal behavior.
f.    Mowinckel's contention is not true.

C.    In what sense may we speak of ecstasy among Israel's prophets?

1.    There has always been a difference of opinion here.
2.    Ecstasy is a broad concept and very different things can be understood by it.
3.    Certainly not everything labeled as ecstatic behavior on the part of the
    canonical prophets can be so considered. Begin Audio Lecture 4a.
4.    The form of ecstatic behavior most frequently displayed among Israel's
    prophets is that of the visionary experience - not wild abnormal behavior.

V.    The preaching of the prophets.
Expanded outline of Section V: Word   Web   Acrobat

A.    General remarks
1.    The prophets were first and foremost proclaimers of God's Word.
2.    The message of the prophets was a faithful proclamation of God's revelation, but not to the exclusion of a personal element in the form of its presentation.

B.    Some formal characteristics of the prophetic proclamation.
1.    The messages are direct and living - not abstract and dry.
2.    The prophets often utilize a play on words to get a point across.
3.    The prophets often utilize poetic expression.
4.    The prophets often use imagery or figurative language.

C.    Some characteristics of the content of the prophetic proclamation.

1.    The prophets do not bring a new religion or morality.
2.    The message of the prophets centers in four areas.
a.    Religious.
b.    Morality and social relationships.
c.    Political issues. Begin Audio Lecture 4b.
d.    Eschatology and messianic expectation.

VI.    True and false prophets.
Expanded outline of Section VI: Word   Web   Acrobat

A.    Statement of the problem.

B.    Validation criteria for true prophecy.
1.    Moral character of the prophet as observed in his daily conduct.
2.    Signs and wonders.
3.    The fulfillment of prophecy.
4.    The conformity of the message to previous revelation. Begin Audio Lecture 5a.
5.    Enlightenment by God's Spirit.

VII.    Prophet and cult in ancient Israel.
Expanded outline of SectionVII: Word   Web   Acrobat

A.    The view that the prophets were anticultic
1.    Explication of the view.
2.    Scripture adduced for support of this view.
3.    Assessment of the view. Begin Audio Lecture 5b.

B.    The view that the prophets were cultic functionaries.
1.    Explication of the view.
2.    Scripture adduced for support of this view.
3.    Assessment of the view.

C.    The view that the prophets were neither anticultic as such, nor cultic functionaries, but simply the proclaimers of divine revelation.

VIII.    The composition of the prophetic books - were the prophets writers?
Expanded outline of Section VIII: Word   Web   Acrobat

    A.    The traditional view.
    B.    The literary critical school.
        1.    Isaiah Begin Audio Lecture 6a.
        2.    Daniel
            a.    The a priori that predictive prophecy does not happen.
            b.    Alleged historical errors.
            c.     Alleged late linguistic features. Begin Audio Lecture 6b.
            d.    Conclusion.

    C.    The history of traditions school.
        1.    Nyberg
        2.    Birkeland
        3.    Nielsen
            a.    Synopsis of his thesis
            b.    Assessment of his thesis.

IX.    Some hermeneutical principles for interpretation of the prophetic writings.
Expanded outline of Section IX: Word   Web   Acrobat

A.    Some general characteristics of predictive prophecy.
1.    The purpose of predictive prophecy.
2.    Predictive prophecy and history writing. Begin Audio Lecture 7a.
3.    The progressive character of predictive prophecy.
4.    Predictive prophecy has its own peculiar time perspective.
5.    The message of predictive prophecy may be couched in culturally dated terminology.
6.    Predictive prophecy may be conditional.
7.    Kinds of predictive prophecy.

B.    Some guidelines for interpretation of prophecy.
1.    Make a careful grammatical-historical-contextual analysis of the passage. Begin Audio Lecture 7b.
2.    State explicitly to whom or to what the passage refers.
3.    Pay attention to fulfillment citations.
4.    Avoid the idea of double fulfillment or double sense. Begin Audio Lecture 8a.
5.    Interpretative analysis must precede a decision on the exact relationship
    between the literal and figurative in any passage (cf. Mickelsen, 299ff.).

X.    The apologetic value of biblical prophecy.
Expanded outline of Section X: Word   Web   Acrobat

A.    Does biblical prophecy have apologetic value?  - a preliminary consideration.
Begin Audio Lecture 8b.

B.    The revelatory claim of the Bible.

C.    Prophecy and fulfillment.

D.    Conclusion.


I.    Introductory remarks.

II.    Obadiah.
Expanded outline of Obadiah: Word   Web   Acrobat
Begin Audio Lecture 9a.

A.    Author and date.

B.    Theme of the book.

C.    Comments on the content.

III.    Joel

A.    Author and date.
Expanded outline of III.A. Word   Web   Acrobat

B.    Content of the book.
Expanded outline of III.B. Word   Web   Acrobat
Begin Audio Lecture 9b.
1.    The problem of approach to the first two chapters.
2.    The problem of chronological sequence.
3.    Outline of the book.
4.    Some comments on the content. Begin Audio Lecture 10a.
Expanded outline of Joel 2:28-32. Word   Web   Acrobat

Expanded outline of Joel 3:1-21. Word   Web   Acrobat

IV.    Jonah.
Expanded outline of Jonah: Word   Web   Acrobat
Begin Audio Lecture 10b.
Begin Audio Lecture 11a.

A.    The name and the writer.

B.    The nature of the book - historical or non-historical.

C.    The content of the book.
1.    Historical background.
2.    Purpose of the book.

V.    Amos.

A.    The author and his background.
Expanded outline of Amos: Word   Web   Acrobat
1.    His name.
2.    His place of residence.
3.    The place of his prophetic activity.
4.    The time of his prophetic activity.
5.    The political and social conditions of his time.

B.    The book of Amos and its content.
1.    General outline.
2.    Major theme.
3.    Comments on content.
Expanded outline of Amos 9:11-15: Word   Web   Acrobat
Begin Audio Lecture 11b.


CITATIONS(Web)   Word  Acrobat

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