Proclaiming The Future: History And Theology In Prophecies Against Tyre -- By: Thomas Renz

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 51:1 (NA 2000)
Article: Proclaiming The Future: History And Theology In Prophecies Against Tyre
Author: Thomas Renz

Proclaiming The Future:
History And Theology
In Prophecies Against Tyre

Thomas Renz


This essay seeks to contribute to our understanding of the nature and function of predictive prophecy. On the basis of programmatic statements in Isaiah 40-55 and a careful analysis and comparison of prophecies against Tyre in Isaiah 23 and Ezekiel 26 that takes into account the actual history of Tyre, other prophetic references to Tyre, and the theological thrust of the relevant sections, it is argued that predictions are an essential part of the prophetic message. Yet they offer a paradigmatic picture of God’s dealings with his people and the nations rather than a detailed outline of future events. Thus prophetic predictions are not historiography before the event but a proclamation of God’s purpose. This explains the conventional and vague language of many predictions, the element of conditionality in biblical prophecy, and the selective nature of the vision of the future being offered.

I. Introduction

There are today those who demand that we ‘change the dialogue partner of biblical exegesis from history to theology’.1 While in sympathy with the concern expressed in this demand, I believe the dichotomy presupposed is misguided. Responsible biblical exegesis is done in dialogue with both history and theology. The purpose of this paper is to engage in serious historical research for the benefit of a more adequate biblical theology of the nature of prophecy. The paper develops a thesis about the role of the predictive element in prophecy based on statements in Isaiah 40-55 and then takes prophecies against

Tyre as a test case. In this way, I hope to rise above the inductive/deductive dichotomy that often characterises discussions about the nature of Scripture. Tyre has been chosen because it plays a prominent role in biblical prophecy but the number of prophecies related to it is not so overwhelming as to make a project such as this unmanageable.

II. Proclaiming The Future

1. Introduction: Foretelling And Forthtelling

It is generally agreed that the prophetic message consists of proclamation and prediction. The time when it was fashionable to minimise the predictive element of prophecy in favour of a strong emphasis on the prophets as spokesmen of God seems to be gone and a more healthy balance is struck between the predictive and the non-predictive side of prophecy, between foretelling and forthtellin...

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