Monday, May 22, 2017

Theophilus of Antioch on Inspired Prophets

"But men of God carrying in them a holy spirit and becoming prophets, being inspired and made wise by God, became God-taught, and holy, and righteous. Wherefore they were also deemed worthy of receiving this reward, that they should become instruments of God, and contain the wisdom that is from Him, through which wisdom they uttered both what regarded the creation of the world and all other things. For they predicted also pestilences, and famines, and wars. And there was not one or two, but many, at various times and seasons among the Hebrews; and also among the Greeks there was the Sibyl; and they all have spoken things consistent and harmonious with each other, both what happened before them and what happened in their own time, and what things are now being fulfilled in our own day: wherefore we are persuaded also concerning the future things that they will fall out, as also the first have been accomplished" (Theophilus to Autolycus II.9).

Greek: Οἱ δὲ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωποι, πνευματοφόροι πνεύματος ἁγίου καὶ προφῆται γενόμενοι, ὑπ' αὐτοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐμπνευσθέντες καὶ σοφισθέντες, ἐγένοντο θεοδίδακτοι καὶ ὅσιοι καὶ δίκαιοι. διὸ καὶ κατηξιώθησαν τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ταύτην λαβεῖν, ὄργανα θεοῦ γενόμενοι καὶ χωρήσαντες σοφίαν τὴν παρ' αὐτοῦ, δι' ἧς σοφίας εἶπον καὶ τὰ περὶ τῆς κτίσεως τοῦ κόσμου, καὶ τῶν λοιπῶν ἁπάντων. καὶ γὰρ περὶ λοιμῶν καὶ λιμῶν καὶ πολέμων προεῖπον. καὶ οὐχ εἷς ἢ δύο ἀλλὰ πλείονες κατὰ χρόνους καὶ καιροὺς ἐγενήθησαν παρὰ Ἑβραίοις, ἀλλὰ καὶ παρὰ Ἕλλησιν Σίβυλλα καὶ πάντες φίλα ἀλλήλοις καὶ σύμφωνα εἰρήκασιν, τά τε πρὸ αὐτῶν γεγενημένα καὶ τὰ κατ' αὐτοὺς γεγονότα καὶ τὰ καθ' ἡμᾶς νυνὶ τελειούμενα· διὸ καὶ πεπείσμεθα καὶ περὶ τῶν μελλόντων οὕτως ἔσεσθαι, καθὼς καὶ τὰ πρῶτα ἀπήρτισται.


Duncan said...

So he is likening the Jewish prophet to the Greek oracle as both being reliable?

Edgar Foster said...

Yes, he is, but that's not wholly unusual for the time. Lactantius does the same thing in Divine Institutes. Early church writers sometimes looked at Greek philosophy and prophecy as divine preparation for the Gospel of Christ.