Q&A: Inspiration of the OT Prophets

Inspiration of the OT Prophets

Did the Holy Spirit dictate prophecies to the Old Testament prophets, or did he work through and with their personalities and perspectives?

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Answer

The Holy Spirit worked through the personality and the perspective of the particular prophet that he was dealing with. I guess that the traditional framework for understanding that theologically is "organic inspiration," that God works through his servants, through his prophets, and uses their personality, uses their particular point of view, uses their education and the lack thereof for his purposes. I guess one could also think about using the doctrine of sanctification and understanding how God takes things that are human, earthly and physical, and sanctifies them for his own purposes to use them for his own means, and he does that with the prophets as well. With that said, though, I think there are instances within the prophetic literature where you'll see God actually dictating to the prophets, you know, "You need to go and say this to the people," and Isaiah or Jeremiah or Ezekiel, they go and they say it. So, there is, there are points within the prophetic literature where God will dictate to his prophets, but at the same time, God uses who they were, and didn't override their personalities in bringing forth his prophetic work for both Israel, ancient Israel, and the church.

Answer by Dr. Mark Gignilliat

Mark Gignilliat is the Associate Professor of Divinity Old Testament at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama and has published articles in Scottish Journal of Theology, Horizons in Biblical Theology, Westminster Theological Journal, Biblica, The Journal for Theological Interpretation, Zeitschrift fr die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, and International Journal of Systematic Theology.