Study Of Prophetism

Vision and Prophecy in Amos, by John D. Watts (Eerdmans, 1958, 89 pp., $3), is reviewed by Edward J. Young, Professor of Old Testament, Westminster Theological Seminary.

Who were the prophets? What manner of men were they, and whence did they derive their messages? The present volume considers Amos as a prophet, and deals with his background, religious experience, prophetic functions, and relation to the cult and message. It consists of scholarly lectures delivered in 1955 at the Swiss Baptist Theological Seminary.

The author thinks that the prophets themselves were practically ignored until the eighteenth century brought them to light. Previously, the Church had been interested mainly in Messianic references. Like most generalizations, however, this one cannot be pressed too far. It might surprise some modern scholars, who are eager to keep up with “the latest,” to discover how much interest was devoted to the prophets as men before the eighteenth century.

According to Watts, prophetic study has come into its own in the twentieth century (p. 2). But nothing written in this century, to the knowledge of this reviewer, can compare with the profound studies of Isaiah, for example, made by Drechsler, Delitzsch, Alexander, or even Gesenius. Because of its absolute refusal to come to grips with the question of special revelation (and the present book is no exception), twentieth century study of prophetism has not really brought us closer to understanding the prophets than did Luther and Calvin. In fact, the Reformers seemed to have a deeper insight into the messages of the prophets than much of the writing of this century.

Amos, we are told, was more than a shepherd. He probably “owned, raised, cared for, and dealt ...

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