On the Prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:18

Posted: January 19, 2014 in Christianity
Tags: , , , , ,

Salam,

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him [Deut.18:18 NIV].

A considerate look at the overall context of this ‘prophecy’ reveals the erroneousness of both Muslims and Christians in their respective propositions. Muslims in general point to the prophetic mission of Muhammad[p] as the ideal referent, while, most Christians have always associated it with and viewed Christ[p] as fulfillment of yet another Old Testament prophecy.

In negation of my previous view, which was admittedly borne out of Muslim favoritism, I now suggest this passage concerns not a certain individual with particularity. Its immediate context, starting from v.9, points to the office of prophethood in general. Israel is admonished against turning to diviners and wizards who indulge abominable practices for supernatural commune and future foretelling [vv.9-14], hence receive assurance, out of personal request, of a continuous chain of prophets who, like Moses[p], would communicate unto them divine directives [v.15ff]. If the promise were pertaining a particular individual, the overall context would seem incoherent. The use of singular pronouns are actually collective singulars as in Isaian Servant songs [cf. v.22], and Deut.34:10 need not be seen as any hindrance either, since it magnifies Moses'[p] un-parallel dignity and status among Israelite prophets, whereas our passage merely concerns prophetic function [Ex.19:16-19].

Most crucially, this ‘prophecy’ could not be concerning Christ[p] since the very idea of a savior messiah was not yet formulated, coming to fore during the post-exile period. Jesus[p] himself never cited it in self-designation, remarkable considering Jesus[p] feels at home using, of frequency, his other messianic titles. Jn.1:45, 6:14, Act.3:22, 7:37 are confronted by Jn.1:19-21 and 7:40-41, and may well be described as devout zealousness. Neither does the Quran make any claim thereto, despite stressing the Prophet[p] being mentioned by name in the Bible. Q.73:15-17 merely stresses similar outcome of Meccan disbelievers as that of Pharaoh’s legions afore. Deut.17:15, which arguably shows the passage concerns Israelites alone, is enough in miscarrying the Muslim misconception.

Moreover, this ‘prophecy’ is no prophecy, rather, annunciation of God’s future scheme regarding the station of prophethood within Israel in compliance with her wish [Ex.20:18-21]. It is well-known that before Moses[p], prophets were appointed few and far between. The declaration concerns commencement of an un-broken succession of prophets among Israelites after Moses[p] [Q.2:87]. Hence, no particular individual is alluded here. The best inference one could achieve is an implicit one; that, since prophethood is the subject-matter and Jesus[p] is one of, if not the greatest, prophet in Israelite religious history, he more than anyone is here referenced. Yet any such deduction is naturally secondary and un-told in the text’s primary intent.

Regards.

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