Biblical prophecy falls into two categories:
* Speaking for another, as in someone's speaking the truth of God to his fellows
* Foretelling what will take place in future.
In English the prefix pro- can mean for (as in speaking for, or on behalf of, someone else'the usual meaning of prophecy in the Bible), or pro- can mean before (as in ahead of time). We will return to sense (b) beginning next week. The Jews considered most (if not all) of the their scriptures to be prophetic. The Hebrew Bible consists of the Law (Torah), Prophets (Nebi'im), and Writings (Kethuvim). Jews speak of Holy Scripture as Tanakh. (This is simply an acronym from the initial consonants of these three divisions of Scripture.) Though it contains the 39 Old Testament books we are familiar with, the Hebrew Bible is not arranged in the same order.
Arrangement of the Hebrew Bible
1. I. TORAH (Law)
2. NEVI'IM (Prophets)
The Twelve (the Minor Prophets)
3. KETHUVIM (Writings)
Megilloth (Five Rolls)
Song of Songs
The prophets were not Isaiah to Malachi -- they began much earlier. The "Former Prophets" included Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. The "Latter Prophets" were Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve. (The Twelve are the Minor Prophets.) Note: Daniel was not included in Nevi'im, but rather in the third part of the Hebrew Scriptures, Kethuvim. Understanding the wider (and usual) sense of prophecy will enable us to see how books like Genesis, Numbers, and Psalms can be highly prophetic, even though they do not belong to Nevi'im. In particular, we will see that Messianic expectations were better grounded than we may have realized.
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