A Theology of Pseudoprophets: A Study in Jeremiah -- By: Ronald E. Manahan
GTJ 1:1 (Spr 1980) p. 77
A Theology of Pseudoprophets:
A Study in Jeremiah
A large corpus of material on false prophets is contained in the book of Jeremiah. This material furnishes opportunity for understanding the theological perspective from which these pseudoprophets spoke and acted. The question is: What theological conceptions did they hold? A survey of recent prophetic and pseudoprophetic research indicates that analysis of historical contexts and audience response helps to answer the question. The present proposal is that a tentative reconstruction of pseudoprophet theology can be developed if attention is given to: (1) audience response, (2) origin of pseudoprophets’ revelations, (3) characterization of pseudoprophets, and (4) pseudoprophet quotations. Accordingly this analysis indicates that pseudoprophets held to a “Para-Covenantal” theology built on hopes attached to the temple and the dynasty. Jerusalem’s existence was without condition and Mosaic Covenant infractions were of no consequence. They spoke only in part of Yahweh’s covenant with his people. Thus, due warning is given those who speak or hear only a part of God’s revelation to man, an error too prevalent in contemporary speaking and hearing of God’s Word.
While the term pseudoprophet has its origin in the LXX, so numerous are the mentions of these prophets who oppose Yahweh’s work and will that the term ψευδοπροφήτης serves as a meaningful title for such persons.1 From a survey of the OT record there is clear indication that false prophets persisted throughout Israel’s history. This fact, along with the diametrical opposition to false prophets by canonical prophets, the complex problem of distinguishing between true and false prophets, and the belief that
GTJ 1:1 (Spr 1980) p. 78
understanding the theological conceptions of false prophets enhances understanding of canonical prophets, raises the question: What theological conceptions did pseudoprophets hold?
Though the length of this paper prohibits a complete treatment of all OT references to false prophets, the book of Jeremiah furnishes the necessary data to begin answering the above question. Several reasons may be cited for this selection. This book contains a volume of material on false prophets, enough data to make a judicious, if cautious, analysis. Further, an especially sharp contrast between true and false prophets is presented, cursorily indicated by the fact that of the ten times the LXX translators used ψευδοπροφήτης, nine are in Jeremiah.
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