As prophecy is called the see called by one God, the preaching of messages of a religion by persons. Such prophets ( from Ancient Greek προ - φήτης per - phetes: " advocate ", " messenger ", " predictor " ) legitimize their message as opposed to a rationally based forecasting and divination by the application of a deity, she and as intuition, Audition to receive / or vision and to share publicly claim.

Prophecy is a known especially from the Ancient Near East, multifaceted phenomenon. It features especially the Abrahamic religions and their belief in one God. This decision is taken orally, has been widely then fixed and handed down in writing and includes not only future events, but in many cases also criticism of the past and present of their addressees. Individual predictions of a prophet is called prophecy, prophecy or promise.

Ancient Near East

A wide variety of ancient Near Eastern texts containing or predictions or prophecies. Many have served to legitimize a dynasty subsequently as willed by God ( vaticinia ex eventu ). Some lead back to an experience of revelation and give a message of God to specific addressees on. The speakers are usually located in the vicinity of the royal court and central state cults. They usually have the salvation and welfare of the respective rulers on the topic and never directly addressed to the whole people or peoples. They criticize occasionally individual aspects of cult practice, but massive judgment prophecy, criticism of kings, their politics and social criticism are missing. Therefore, one assigns a document as this Court and salvation prophecy.

The 30 obtained on panels letters from Mari (c. 1800 BC ) reported by men and women who received messages of weather and vegetation gods Dagan, Hadad and others without their intervention as in a dream vision or audition in front of an idol in the Temple and these as " ambassadors " partly unbidden, partly lined up the king on request. Their messages included commitments divine assistance for their own, evil for foreign nations. They criticized only negligence in the cult.

The travelogue of the Egyptian Un -Amun (approx. 1100 BC) tells of a Phoenician who accidentally fell in a sacrificial ceremony in ecstatic excitement, it received a message from God and that hosted the prince of Byblos, whereupon the latter the waiting in the harbor Un Amun - received.

The inscription of Zakir of Hamath ( around 800 BC ) in Syria witnessed a request of the king in a siege situation to his patron god Baalschamem, the " Lord of Heaven ". This was answered by mediation of " seers " and the king promised deliverance from his enemies. This, too, is regarded as the form of intuitive prophecy of salvation, while otherwise rather the inductive form was common. Whether it is a parallel to the " memorandum of Isaiah " (Isaiah 7 EU) is controversial.

Wall inscriptions in Tell The ' Alla, East Jordan, witness a " intuition " of a seer named Balaam also the Bible knows (Numbers 22-24 EU).

Intuitive prophecy was not strictly distinguished in ancient times of general divination. Especially oracles were at times widespread in the Mediterranean and the Near East. Transmitter or transmitters were often employed as in Delphi firmly at the farm or place of worship and ritual responded to a survey. In ancient Rome, was reading the future from heavenly signs, the flight of birds, the entrails of sacrificial animals ( " livers " ) by pontiffs, haruspices and flamens part of the state cult. It lacked above all the current job of a god and the concreteness of the message.

From the 7th century BC Assyrian clay tablets date back to around 30 oracles of named Temple officials and craftsmen. They are direct address to God to specific addressees and point to historical events. You do not follow a victim show or astrology, but give as a direct God notices. Content, they proclaim the king healing, long life and survival of his dynasty, and blame cultic negligence.


Prophecy received especially in ancient Judaism since about 1000 to 200 BC a central, sometimes dominant rank for the relationship of God to the people. Appointed against their will word prophet, seer, or emissaries ( " men of God " ) occurred in the history of Israel over and over again in order to proclaim God's word to the people and its leaders as unconditional claim, without regard to the consequences for their lives.

Here in the Kingdom of Israel mainly mischief, since the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel (about 722 BC ), and especially in the Babylonian exile ( from 586 BC) was first appointed increasingly salvation prophecy on. Both have been collected in historical and prophetic books and recorded. The latter form as Nebiim the second main part of the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible. Therefore prophecy referred to in Judaism not only the oral preaching, but also a particular literary genre. This is the future and present announcements for Collective, for more about the chosen people, the foreign nations, all believers and unbelievers, and life history of the Prophet.


In early Christianity was John the Baptist as the last and most important of the prophets of Israel. Jesus of Nazareth referred to himself by Mk 6.4 EU once as a prophet and was understood by Mk 8.28 EU from many of his contemporaries as a prophet. Among the early Christians were prophets besides the apostles almost equal authority of the Christian community (1 Cor 12:28 EU).

Since the dispute in the early church to Montanism prophecy resigned as characteristic of Christian communities. Later prophetic movements in Christianity have often been marginalized as heresies and tracked. During the Reformation, especially Calvinism developed a three- offices - teaching (Jesus Christ as priest, king - the Messiah - and prophet ). But only the Ecumenical Movement on the Protestant side and the Roman Catholic social doctrine initiated from the prophetic traditions of the Bible in the 20th century a prophetic " ( Guardian ) Official " from the Church.


In Islam, the term for prophet in Hebrew as nabī (Arabic نبي, DMG nabīy ). The plural is nabīyūn ( نبيون ) or Anbiya ' ( انبياء / Anbiya ʾ ). The idea of ​​Nabī appears in mittelmekkanischer time in the Quran for the first time. In this period, for example, Isaac (Surah 37:112 ), Jesus (Sura 19:30) and Abraham (Sura 19:41 ) called Nabī and it is the people recalled how many prophets were sent in earlier times, the but all were ridiculed (Sura 43:6 f). Overall, the Nabī - term occurs 75 times in the Quran. For Mohammed himself the Nabī title is only since medinischer time ( as Sura 7:157 f ) is used. That Mohammed now took the title claim for themselves, is explained in the research on the part of the Jewish influence, which he was exposed in Medina. At a relatively late point of the Qur'an (Sura 33:40 ) is Mohammed ( on - nabīyīn Hatam ) referred to as the " Seal of the Prophets ", a term originally meaning is far from clear.

Islamic theology defines the Nabī as a person who has been revealed to a religious law (SAR ʿ ). According to Islamic tradition, there are a large number of people that fall under this category. The stories about them are collected ʾ literature in the Qisas al - Anbiya. However, Mohammed is considered in Islam as the most important of all the prophets. When the Prophet 's birthday or prophetic medicine is mentioned, then the always refers to him.


Some wanted to founders of religion, continue the older religions unite, or beat, saw themselves as prophets and were revered by their followers as such. Mani saw himself as the reluctant to disclose the gnosis ( knowledge ) from the divine origin and essence of man and his destiny to return to the world of light are called. His message that is not aimed at specific situational intervention of God in history, but on acceptance of a particular theory about the origin of the world and the human role. As he looked at her as the final revelation, he found himself at the same time as the last prophet. The Manicheans saw in him the promised Paraclete of Christ.


The Mormons ( Church of Jesus Christ of Latter -day Saints ) see their founder Joseph Smith (1830 ) and its respective successors at the head of their church organization as a " prophet, seer and revelator " to. It receives according to the faith of the members of the important revelations for today and the future.

Modern interpretations

In the context of Asian religions says the psychologist Anthony Starr in Feet of Clay - A Study on gurus possible traits and psychosis and keeps eloquently "prophets" to be more dangerous. According to David C. Lane, a fraudulent charlatan would be less disastrous than one who is fully convinced of his ideas. Various myths see the occurrence of false prophets in connection with the issue of doomsday, and the story she knows from hours under continuous cultures.

The philosopher Karl Popper described himself in his books The Open Society and your enemies, and a series of lectures philosophy and false prophets, philosophers such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels with their healing promulgation of industrialization as false prophets.