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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

17 May 2005

Are All Prophets Jewish?

Q: Are all Prophets (in the Bible) Jewish? I also mean minor prophets (Joel, Jonah, etc.) and female prophets (Deborah, Miriam) and any other I might not yet know of.

A: First of all let’s tighten up the terminology: While people often use “Jewish” to speak of all of Israel’s history, the term actually belongs to the Babylonian Captivity and subsequent years. After the death of Solomon, the kingdom split. The Southern Kingdom consisted of the tribe of Judah, the remnant of Benjamin, and many of the Levites living among them. The rest of the tribes composed the Northern Kingdom, which kept the name “Israel” for itself. “Jew” comes from “Judah” and began to be used during the exile and became common during subsequent years.

This being said, the first person Scripture calls “prophet” was Abraham. However, Noah shows prophetic traits. Both of these lived before Israel was even a people, let alone a nation. Within the family of Israel (Jacob), Joseph displayed prophetic gifts, although the Bible doesn’t actually title him as a prophet. The first (and greatest) of Israel’s “certified” prophets was Moses. Of all the early and later (or “writing”) prophets of the Old Testament, no evidence points to any of them being non-Hebrew. However, following the coming of Jesus, who was the Great Prophet, the Lord expanded the prophetic gift to include Gentile believers in the New Testament Church.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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