May 2, 2016

The Gift of Prophecy in Scripture and History

Containing two new topics, never addressed before in Adventist volumes.

Gerhard Pfandl
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Alberto Timm and Dwain N. Esmond, eds., Silver Spring, Md.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2015. Reviewed by Gerhard Pfandl, recently retired associate director, Biblical Research Institute.

This volume contains 20 papers presented at the International Gift of Prophecy Symposium, hosted by Andrews University, October 15-18, 2015. As the title suggests, the book is divided into two parts, namely, biblical and historical studies. Eight chapters deal with the gift of prophecy in Scripture; three chapters explore its occurrence, or lack thereof, in church history; and the other nine chapters investigate the manifestation of the prophetic gift in the life and work of Ellen G. White.

The biblical studies section provides a rigorous in-depth study of the prophetic phenomenon in Scripture. No topic is off-limits. Following two chapters providing an overview of the prophetic voice in the Old and New Testaments, the chapter on revelation/inspiration addresses not only the self-testimony of Scripture concerning its inspiration, but also the discrepancies, difficulties, and nonbiblical ancient sources reflected in the text. Two new topics, never addressed before in Adventist volumes, are a chapter on the emotions of biblical prophets and a chapter entitled “Ellen White’s Insights Into Scripture in Light of the Original Biblical languages.” The author gives a number of examples where nuances of the biblical texts found only in the original languages (and not reflected in modern translations) were embedded in Ellen White’s comments on those texts.

Other topics cover the use of Scripture by other biblical writers, the influence of the literature of the ancient Near East on the biblical writers, tongues in 1 Corinthians 14, and “the Spirit of Prophecy” in the book of Revelation.

The historical studies section addresses a variety of topics of interest to Seventh-day Adventists. The first three chapters explore the paucity of the true gift of prophecy in church history, while there seems to be an abundance of false prophets. Three chapters deal with the complex and sensitive topics of Ellen White’s interpretation of Scripture, her use of extrabiblical sources, and the sola scriptura principle and Ellen White.

Other topics include her focus on the love of God in Christ, her emphasis on mission, and Ellen White as a Christian and a writer. The final chapter addresses the question on how to make her relevant to those of us who live in third millennium. In addition to the 20 chapters, the book has four appendices, one of which is the sermon by Ted N. C. Wilson at the symposium.

The Gift of Prophecy in Scripture and History is a landmark publication on this topic. While some chapters may be of more interest than others, all contribute to a better understanding of the importance of the gift of prophecy as manifested in the life and work of Ellen G. White. Every pastor, elder, and church member should read and study this book to gain a greater appreciation of God’s gift to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and be able to better respond to non-Adventists who have questions concerning the ministry of Ellen White. 

Gerhard Pfandl
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