Whether Prophecy is Fittingly Divided into the Prophecy of Divine Predestination, of Foreknowledge, and of Denunciation?
Objection 1: It would seem that prophecy is unfittingly divided according to a gloss on Mat.1:23, "Behold a virgin shall be with child," where it is stated that "one kind of prophecy proceeds from the Divine predestination, and must in all respects be accomplished so that its fulfillment is independent of our will, for instance the one in question. Another prophecy proceeds from God's foreknowledge: and into this our will enters. And another prophecy is called denunciation, which is significative of God's disapproval." For that which results from every prophecy should not be reckoned a part of prophecy. Now all prophecy is according to the Divine foreknowledge, since the prophets "read in the book of foreknowledge," as a gloss says on Is.38:1. Therefore it would seem that prophecy according to foreknowledge should not be reckoned a species of prophecy.

Objection 2: Further, just as something is foretold in denunciation, so is something foretold in promise, and both of these are subject to alteration. For it is written (Jer.18:7,8): "I will suddenly speak against a nation and against a kingdom, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy it. If that nation against which I have spoken shall repent of their evil, I also will repent" -- -and this pertains to the prophecy of denunciation, and afterwards the text continues in reference to the prophecy of promise (Jer.18:9,10): "I will suddenly speak of a nation and of a kingdom, to build up and plant it. If it shall do evil in My sight . . . I will repent of the good that I have spoken to do unto it." Therefore as there is reckoned to be a prophecy of denunciation, so should there be a prophecy of promise.

Objection 3: Further, Isidore says (Etym. vii, 8): "There are seven kinds of prophecy. The first is an ecstasy, which is the transport of the mind: thus Peter saw a vessel descending from heaven with all manner of beasts therein. The second kind is a vision, as we read in Isaias, who says (Is.6:1): 'I saw the Lord sitting,' etc. The third kind is a dream: thus Jacob in a dream, saw a ladder. The fourth kind is from the midst of a cloud: thus God spake to Moses. The fifth kind is a voice from heaven, as that which called to Abraham saying (Gn.22:11): 'Lay not thy hand upon the boy.' The sixth kind is taking up a parable, as in the example of Balaam (Num.23:7; 24:15). The seventh kind is the fullness of the Holy Ghost, as in the case of nearly all the prophets." Further, he mentions three kinds of vision; "one by the eyes of the body, another by the soul's imagination, a third by the eyes of the mind." Now these are not included in the aforesaid division. Therefore it is insufficient.

On the contrary, stands the authority of Jerome to whom the gloss above quoted is ascribed.

I answer that, The species of moral habits and acts are distinguished according to their objects. Now the object of prophecy is something known by God and surpassing the faculty of man. Wherefore, according to the difference of such things, prophecy is divided into various species, as assigned above. Now it has been stated above (Q[71], A[6], ad 2) that the future is contained in the Divine knowledge in two ways. First, as in its cause: and thus we have the prophecy of "denunciation," which is not always fulfilled. but it foretells the relation of cause to effect, which is sometimes hindered by some other occurrence supervening. Secondly, God foreknows certain things in themselves -- -either as to be accomplished by Himself, and of such things is the prophecy of "predestination," since, according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 30), "God predestines things which are not in our power" -- -or as to be accomplished through man's free-will, and of such is the prophecy of "foreknowledge." This may regard either good or evil, which does not apply to the prophecy of predestination, since the latter regards good alone. And since predestination is comprised under foreknowledge, the gloss in the beginning of the Psalter assigns only two species to prophecy, namely of "foreknowledge," and of "denunciation."

Reply to Objection 1: Foreknowledge, properly speaking, denotes precognition of future events in themselves, and in this sense it is reckoned a species of prophecy. But in so far as it is used in connection with future events, whether as in themselves, or as in their causes, it is common to every species of prophecy.

Reply to Objection 2: The prophecy of promise is included in the prophecy of denunciation, because the aspect of truth is the same in both. But it is denominated in preference from denunciation, because God is more inclined to remit punishment than to withdraw promised blessings.

Reply to Objection 3: Isidore divides prophecy according to the manner of prophesying. Now we may distinguish the manner of prophesying -- -either according to man's cognitive powers, which are sense, imagination, and intellect, and then we have the three kinds of vision mentioned both by him and by Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii, 6,7) -- -or according to the different ways in which the prophetic current is received. Thus as regards the enlightening of the intellect there is the "fullness of the Holy Ghost" which he mentions in the seventh place. As to the imprinting of pictures on the imagination he mentions three, namely "dreams," to which he gives the third place; "vision," which occurs to the prophet while awake and regards any kind of ordinary object, and this he puts in the second place; and "ecstasy," which results from the mind being uplifted to certain lofty things, and to this he assigns the first place. As regards sensible signs he reckons three kinds of prophecy, because a sensible sign is -- -either a corporeal thing offered externally to the sight, such as "a cloud," which he mentions in the fourth place -- -or a "voice" sounding from without and conveyed to man's hearing -- -this he puts in the fifth place -- -or a voice proceeding from a man, conveying something under a similitude, and this pertains to the "parable" to which he assigns the sixth place.

<h>of the division of prophecy
Top of Page
Top of Page