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What is Prophetic about Prophecies: Inspiration or Critical Memory?

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A Fresh Look at Prophets and Prophecy in the New Testament and Contemporary Pentecostalism

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Books on ‘how to speak prophetically’ are flourishing. They mainly build on the assumption that ‘inspired speech’ defines the core of the prophetic self-understanding. This conjecture is also reflected in many scholarly works on prophecy. This articles argues that at the heart of prophecy in both the Old and the New Testament lays the identity-forming narrative of the people of God. Based on 1 Cor. 1.10–2.16 it shall further be argued that the Spirit’s role may also be described in disclosing the significance of this narrative. That inspired oracles are not pivotal to the New Testament’s understanding of prophecy is further evidenced in Mt. 7.15–34: False prophets are not criticised for the content of their speech but for their lack of obedience to the will of God. Therefore, Pentecostals today might listen carefully to their own identity-forming narrative and telling the story might in itself be a prophetic act.

Affiliations: 1: BewegungPlus, Burgdorf, Switzerland,


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