Original Research - Special Collection: Public Discourse

The origin of prophetism in the Ancient Near East

Gerda de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 66, No 1 | a795 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v66i1.795 | © 2010 Gerda de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 31 January 2010 | Published: 08 October 2010

About the author(s)

Gerda de Villiers, University of Pretoria, South Africa


This article aimed to give an overview of the early attestations to prophecy in the Ancient Near East (ANE) in order to stimulate reflection on what could be understood by ‘prophetism’. The most extant sources for prophetic oracles in the ANE were uncovered at the royal archives of Mari and Nineveh, therefore some evidence of these sites has been indicated. Consequently the distinction between ‘inductive’ and ‘non-inductive’ forms of divination was also discussed. Furthermore it was questioned whether the critique against ANE-prophecy as ‘Heilsprophetie’ (‘salvation’) as opposed to the ‘Unheilsprophetie’ (‘doom’) of Old Testament can still be upheld. Finally some notes of caution were raised with regard to the careless appropriation of the term ‘prophetism’ in the 21st century.


Prophesy; religion; witness; revelation; divination


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Crossref Citations

1. The office of prophets as an emergency measure
Joseph J. De Bruyn
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doi: 10.4102/ids.v47i1.673