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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • SECOND PART
    • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[1] Out. Para. 1/4 - SECOND PART OF THE SECOND PART (SS) (QQ[1]-189)
      • Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE DIVISION OF PROPHECY (SIX ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF THE DIVISION OF PROPHECY (SIX ARTICLES)

We must now consider the division of prophecy, and under this head there
are six points of inquiry:

(1) The division of prophecy into its species;

(2) Whether the more excellent prophecy is that which is without
imaginative vision?

(3) The various degrees of prophecy;

(4) Whether Moses was the greatest of the prophets?

(5) Whether a comprehensor can be a prophet?

(6) Whether prophecy advanced in perfection as time went on?


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether prophecy is fittingly divided into the prophecy of divine
predestination, of foreknowledge, and of denunciation?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that prophecy is unfittingly divided according to a
gloss on Mt. 1:23, "Behold a virgin shall be with child," where it is
stated that "one kind of prophecy proceeds from the Divine
predestination, and must in all respects be accomplished so that its
fulfillment is independent of our will, for instance the one in question.
Another prophecy proceeds from God's foreknowledge: and into this our
will enters. And another prophecy is called denunciation, which is
significative of God's disapproval." For that which results from every
prophecy should not be reckoned a part of prophecy. Now all prophecy is
according to the Divine foreknowledge, since the prophets "read in the
book of foreknowledge," as a gloss says on Is. 38:1. Therefore it would
seem that prophecy according to foreknowledge should not be reckoned a
species of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, just as something is foretold in denunciation, so is
something foretold in promise, and both of these are subject to
alteration. For it is written (Jer. 18:7,8): "I will suddenly speak
against a nation and against a kingdom, to root out, and to pull down,
and to destroy it. If that nation against which I have spoken shall
repent of their evil, I also will repent" - and this pertains to the
prophecy of denunciation, and afterwards the text continues in reference
to the prophecy of promise (Jer. 18:9,10): "I will suddenly speak of a
nation and of a kingdom, to build up and plant it. If it shall do evil in
My sight . . . I will repent of the good that I have spoken to do unto
it." Therefore as there is reckoned to be a prophecy of denunciation, so
should there be a prophecy of promise.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Isidore says (Etym. vii, 8): "There are seven kinds of
prophecy. The first is an ecstasy, which is the transport of the mind:
thus Peter saw a vessel descending from heaven with all manner of beasts
therein. The second kind is a vision, as we read in Isaias, who says (Is.
6:1): 'I saw the Lord sitting,' etc. The third kind is a dream: thus
Jacob in a dream, saw a ladder. The fourth kind is from the midst of a
cloud: thus God spake to Moses. The fifth kind is a voice from heaven, as
that which called to Abraham saying (Gn. 22:11): 'Lay not thy hand upon
the boy.' The sixth kind is taking up a parable, as in the example of
Balaam (Num. 23:7; 24:15). The seventh kind is the fullness of the Holy
Ghost, as in the case of nearly all the prophets." Further, he mentions
three kinds of vision; "one by the eyes of the body, another by the
soul's imagination, a third by the eyes of the mind." Now these are not
included in the aforesaid division. Therefore it is insufficient.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, stands the authority of Jerome to whom the gloss above
quoted is ascribed.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The species of moral habits and acts are distinguished
according to their objects. Now the object of prophecy is something known
by God and surpassing the faculty of man. Wherefore, according to the
difference of such things, prophecy is divided into various species, as
assigned above. Now it has been stated above (Q[71], A[6], ad 2) that the
future is contained in the Divine knowledge in two ways. First, as in its
cause: and thus we have the prophecy of "denunciation," which is not
always fulfilled. but it foretells the relation of cause to effect, which
is sometimes hindered by some other occurrence supervening. Secondly, God
foreknows certain things in themselves - either as to be accomplished by
Himself, and of such things is the prophecy of "predestination," since,
according to Damascene (De Fide Orth. ii, 30), "God predestines things
which are not in our power" - or as to be accomplished through man's
free-will, and of such is the prophecy of "foreknowledge." This may
regard either good or evil, which does not apply to the prophecy of
predestination, since the latter regards good alone. And since
predestination is comprised under foreknowledge, the gloss in the
beginning of the Psalter assigns only two species to prophecy, namely of
"foreknowledge," and of "denunciation."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Foreknowledge, properly speaking, denotes precognition of
future events in themselves, and in this sense it is reckoned a species
of prophecy. But in so far as it is used in connection with future
events, whether as in themselves, or as in their causes, it is common to
every species of prophecy.
Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The prophecy of promise is included in the prophecy of
denunciation, because the aspect of truth is the same in both. But it is
denominated in preference from denunciation, because God is more inclined
to remit punishment than to withdraw promised blessings.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Isidore divides prophecy according to the manner of
prophesying. Now we may distinguish the manner of prophesying - either
according to man's cognitive powers, which are sense, imagination, and
intellect, and then we have the three kinds of vision mentioned both by
him and by Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii, 6,7) - or according to the
different ways in which the prophetic current is received. Thus as
regards the enlightening of the intellect there is the "fullness of the
Holy Ghost" which he mentions in the seventh place. As to the imprinting
of pictures on the imagination he mentions three, namely "dreams," to
which he gives the third place; "vision," which occurs to the prophet
while awake and regards any kind of ordinary object, and this he puts in
the second place; and "ecstasy," which results from the mind being
uplifted to certain lofty things, and to this he assigns the first place.
As regards sensible signs he reckons three kinds of prophecy, because a
sensible sign is - either a corporeal thing offered externally to the
sight, such as "a cloud," which he mentions in the fourth place - or a
"voice" sounding from without and conveyed to man's hearing - this he
puts in the fifth place - or a voice proceeding from a man, conveying
something under a similitude, and this pertains to the "parable" to which
he assigns the sixth place.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the prophecy which is accompanied by intellective and imaginative
vision is more excellent than that which is accompanied by intellective
vision alone?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1
OBJ 1: It would seem that the prophecy which has intellective and
imaginative vision is more excellent than that which is accompanied by
intellective vision alone. For Augustine says (Gen. ad lit. xii, 9): "He
is less a prophet, who sees in spirit nothing but the signs
representative of things, by means of the images of things corporeal: he
is more a prophet, who is merely endowed with the understanding of these
signs; but most of all is he a prophet, who excels in both ways," and
this refers to the prophet who has intellective together with imaginative
vision. Therefore this kind of prophecy is more excellent.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, the greater a thing's power is, the greater the distance
to which it extends. Now the prophetic light pertains chiefly to the
mind, as stated above (Q[173], A[2]). Therefore apparently the prophecy
that extends to the imagination is greater than that which is confined to
the intellect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Jerome (Prol. in Lib. Reg.) distinguishes the "prophets"
from the "sacred writers." Now all those whom he calls prophets (such as
Isaias, Jeremias, and the like) had intellective together with
imaginative vision: but not those whom he calls sacred writers, as
writing by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost (such as Job, David,
Solomon, and the like). Therefore it would seem more proper to call
prophets those who had intellective together with imaginative vision,
than those who had intellective vision alone.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, Dionysius says (Coel. Hier. i) that "it is impossible
for the Divine ray to shine on us, except as screened round about by the
many-colored sacred veils." Now the prophetic revelation is conveyed by
the infusion of the divine ray. Therefore it seems that it cannot be
without the veils of phantasms.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, A gloss says at the beginning of the Psalter that "the
most excellent manner of prophecy is when a man prophesies by the mere
inspiration of the Holy Ghost, apart from any outward assistance of deed,
word, vision, or dream."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, The excellence of the means is measured chiefly by the
end. Now the end of prophecy is the manifestation of a truth that
surpasses the faculty of man. Wherefore the more effective this
manifestation is, the more excellent the prophecy. But it is evident that
the manifestation of divine truth by means of the bare contemplation of
the truth itself, is more effective than that which is conveyed under the
similitude of corporeal things, for it approaches nearer to the heavenly
vision whereby the truth is seen in God's essence. Hence it follows that
the prophecy whereby a supernatural truth is seen by intellectual vision,
is more excellent than that in which a supernatural truth is manifested
by means of the similitudes of corporeal things in the vision of the
imagination.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] Body Para. 2/2

Moreover the prophet's mind is shown thereby to be more lofty: even as
in human teaching the hearer, who is able to grasp the bare intelligible
truth the master propounds, is shown to have a better understanding than
one who needs to be taken by the hand and helped by means of examples
taken from objects of sense. Hence it is said in commendation of David's
prophecy (2 Kgs. 23:3): "The strong one of Israel spoke to me," and
further on (2 Kgs. 23:4): "As the light of the morning, when the sun
riseth, shineth in the morning without clouds."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: When a particular supernatural truth has to be revealed by
means of corporeal images, he that has both, namely the intellectual
light and the imaginary vision, is more a prophet than he that has only
one, because his prophecy is more perfect; and it is in this sense that
Augustine speaks as quoted above. Nevertheless the prophecy in which the
bare intelligible truth is revealed is greater than all.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The same judgment does not apply to things that are sought
for their own sake, as to things sought for the sake of something else.
For in things sought for their own sake, the agent's power is the more
effective according as it extends to more numerous and more remote
objects; even so a physician is thought more of, if he is able to heal
more people, and those who are further removed from health. on the other
hand, in things sought only for the sake of something else, that agent
would seem to have greater power, who is able to achieve his purpose with
fewer means and those nearest to hand: thus more praise is awarded the
physician who is able to heal a sick person by means of fewer and more
gentle remedies. Now, in the prophetic knowledge, imaginary vision is
required, not for its own sake, but on account of the manifestation of
the intelligible truth. Wherefore prophecy is all the more excellent
according as it needs it less.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The fact that a particular predicate is applicable to one
thing and less properly to another, does not prevent this latter from
being simply better than the former: thus the knowledge of the blessed is
more excellent than the knowledge of the wayfarer, although faith is more
properly predicated of the latter knowledge, because faith implies an
imperfection of knowledge. In like manner prophecy implies a certain
obscurity, and remoteness from the intelligible truth; wherefore the name
of prophet is more properly applied to those who see by imaginary vision.
And yet the more excellent prophecy is that which is conveyed by
intellectual vision, provided the same truth be revealed in either case.
If, however, the intellectual light be divinely infused in a person, not
that he may know some supernatural things, but that he may be able to
judge, with the certitude of divine truth, of things that can be known by
human reason, such intellectual prophecy is beneath that which is
conveyed by an imaginary vision leading to a supernatural truth. It was
this kind of prophecy that all those had who are included in the ranks of
the prophets, who moreover were called prophets for the special reason
that they exercised the prophetic calling officially. Hence they spoke as
God's representatives, saying to the people: "Thus saith the Lord": but
not so the authors of the "sacred writings," several of whom treated more
frequently of things that can be known by human reason, not in God's
name, but in their own, yet with the assistance of the Divine light
withal.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[2] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: In the present life the enlightenment by the divine ray is
not altogether without any veil of phantasms, because according to his
present state of life it is unnatural to man not to understand without a
phantasm. Sometimes, however, it is sufficient to have phantasms
abstracted in the usual way from the senses without any imaginary vision
divinely vouchsafed, and thus prophetic vision is said to be without
imaginary vision.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the degrees of prophecy can be distinguished according to the
imaginary vision?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that the degrees of prophecy cannot be
distinguished according to the imaginary vision. For the degrees of a
thing bear relation to something that is on its own account, not on
account of something else. Now, in prophecy, intellectual vision is
sought on its own account, and imaginary vision on account of something
else, as stated above (A[2], ad 2). Therefore it would seem that the
degrees of prophecy are distinguished not according to imaginary, but
only according to intellectual, vision.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, seemingly for one prophet there is one degree of
prophecy. Now one prophet receives revelation through various imaginary
visions. Therefore a difference of imaginary visions does not entail a
difference of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, according to a gloss [*Cassiodorus, super Prolog.
Hieron. in Psalt.], prophecy consists of words, deeds, dreams, and
visions. Therefore the degrees of prophecy should not be distinguished
according to imaginary vision, to which vision and dreams pertain, rather
than according to words and deeds.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The medium differentiates the degrees of knowledge:
thus science based on direct [*"Propter quid"] proofs is more excellent
than science based on indirect [*"Quia"] premises or than opinion,
because it comes through a more excellent medium. Now imaginary vision is
a kind of medium in prophetic knowledge. Therefore the degrees of
prophecy should be distinguished according to imaginary vision.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] Body Para. 1/3

I answer that, As stated above (Q[173], A[2]), the prophecy wherein, by
the intelligible light, a supernatural truth is revealed through an
imaginary vision, holds the mean between the prophecy wherein a
supernatural truth is revealed without imaginary vision, and that wherein
through the intelligible light and without an imaginary vision, man is
directed to know or do things pertaining to human conduct. Now knowledge
is more proper to prophecy than is action; wherefore the lowest degree of
prophecy is when a man, by an inward instinct, is moved to perform some
outward action. Thus it is related of Samson (Judges 15:14) that "the
Spirit of the Lord came strongly upon him, and as the flax [*'Lina.' St.
Thomas apparently read 'ligna' ('wood')] is wont to be consumed at the
approach of fire, so the bands with which he was bound were broken and
loosed." The second degree of prophecy is when a man is enlightened by an
inward light so as to know certain things, which, however, do not go
beyond the bounds of natural knowledge: thus it is related of Solomon (3
Kgs. 4:32,33) that "he spoke . . . parables . . . and he treated about
trees from the cedar that is in Libanus unto the hyssop that cometh out
of the wall, and he discoursed of beasts and of fowls, and of creeping
things and of fishes": and all of this came from divine inspiration, for
it was stated previously (3 Kgs. 4:29): "God gave to Solomon wisdom and
understanding exceeding much."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] Body Para. 2/3

Nevertheless these two degrees are beneath prophecy properly so called,
because they do not attain to supernatural truth. The prophecy wherein
supernatural truth is manifested through imaginary vision is
differentiated first according to the difference between dreams which
occur during sleep, and vision which occurs while one is awake. The
latter belongs to a higher degree of prophecy, since the prophetic light
that draws the soul away to supernatural things while it is awake and
occupied with sensible things would seem to be stronger than that which
finds a man's soul asleep and withdrawn from objects of sense. Secondly
the degrees of this prophecy are differentiated according to the
expressiveness of the imaginary signs whereby the intelligible truth is
conveyed. And since words are the most expressive signs of intelligible
truth, it would seem to be a higher degree of prophecy when the prophet,
whether awake or asleep, hears words expressive of an intelligible truth,
than when he sees things significative of truth, for instance "the seven
full ears of corn" signified "seven years of plenty" (Gn. 41:22,26). In
such like signs prophecy would seem to be the more excellent, according
as the signs are more expressive, for instance when Jeremias saw the
burning of the city under the figure of a boiling cauldron (Jer. 1:13).
Thirdly, it is evidently a still higher degree of prophecy when a prophet
not only sees signs of words or deeds, but also, either awake or asleep,
sees someone speaking or showing something to him, since this proves the
prophet's mind to have approached nearer to the cause of the revelation.
Fourthly, the height of a degree of prophecy may be measured according to
the appearance of the person seen: for it is a higher degree of prophecy,
if he who speaks or shows something to the waking or sleeping prophet be
seen by him under the form of an angel, than if he be seen by him under
the form of man: and higher still is it, if he be seen by the prophet
whether asleep or awake, under the appearance of God, according to Is.
6:1, "I saw the Lord sitting."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] Body Para. 3/3

But above all these degrees there is a third kind of prophecy, wherein
an intelligible and supernatural truth is shown without any imaginary
vision. However, this goes beyond the bounds of prophecy properly so
called, as stated above (A[2], ad 3); and consequently the degrees of
prophecy are properly distinguished according to imaginary vision.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: We are unable to know how to distinguish the intellectual
light, except by means of imaginary or sensible signs. Hence the
difference in the intellectual light is gathered from the difference in
the things presented to the imagination.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: As stated above (Q[171], A[2]), prophecy is by way, not of
an abiding habit, but of a transitory passion; wherefore there is nothing
inconsistent if one and the same prophet, at different times, receive
various degrees of prophetic revelation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The words and deeds mentioned there do not pertain to the
prophetic revelation, but to the announcement, which is made according to
the disposition of those to whom that which is revealed to the prophet is
announced; and this is done sometimes by words, sometimes by deeds. Now
this announcement, and the working of miracles, are something consequent
upon prophecy, as stated above (Q[171], A[1]).


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether Moses was the greatest of the prophets?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that Moses was not the greatest of the prophets.
For a gloss at the beginning of the Psalter says that "David is called
the prophet by way of excellence." Therefore Moses was not the greatest
of all.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, greater miracles were wrought by Josue, who made the sun
and moon to stand still (Josue 10:12-14), and by Isaias, who made the sun
to turn back (Is. 38:8), than by Moses, who divided the Red Sea (Ex.
14:21). In like manner greater miracles were wrought by Elias, of whom it
is written (Ecclus. 48:4,5): "Who can glory like to thee? Who raisedst
up a dead man from below." Therefore Moses was not the greatest of the
prophets.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, it is written (Mt. 11:11) that "there hath not risen,
among them that are born of women, a greater than John the Baptist."
Therefore Moses was not greater than all the prophets.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Dt. 34:10): "There arose no more a
prophet in Israel like unto Moses."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, Although in some respect one or other of the prophets was
greater than Moses, yet Moses was simply the greatest of all. For, as
stated above (A[3]; Q[171], A[1]), in prophecy we may consider not only
the knowledge, whether by intellectual or by imaginary vision, but also
the announcement and the confirmation by miracles. Accordingly Moses was
greater than the other prophets. First, as regards the intellectual
vision, since he saw God's very essence, even as Paul in his rapture did,
according to Augustine (Gen. ad lit. xii, 27). Hence it is written (Num.
12:8) that he saw God "plainly and not by riddles." Secondly, as regards
the imaginary vision, which he had at his call, as it were, for not only
did he hear words, but also saw one speaking to him under the form of
God, and this not only while asleep, but even when he was awake. Hence it
is written (Ex. 33:11) that "the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a
man is wont to speak to his friend." Thirdly, as regards the working of
miracles which he wrought on a whole nation of unbelievers. Wherefore it
is written (Dt. 34:10,11): "There arose no more a prophet in Israel like
unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face: in all the signs and
wonders, which He sent by him, to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and
to all his servants, and to his whole land."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The prophecy of David approaches near to the vision of
Moses, as regards the intellectual vision, because both received a
revelation of intelligible and supernatural truth, without any imaginary
vision. Yet the vision of Moses was more excellent as regards the
knowledge of the Godhead; while David more fully knew and expressed the
mysteries of Christ's incarnation.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: These signs of the prophets mentioned were greater as to
the substance of the thing done; yet the miracles of Moses were greater
as regards the way in which they were done, since they were wrought on a
whole people.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: John belongs to the New Testament, whose ministers take
precedence even of Moses, since they are spectators of a fuller
revelation, as stated in 2 Cor. 3.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether there is a degree of prophecy in the blessed?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that there is a degree of prophecy in the blessed.
For, as stated above (A[4]), Moses saw the Divine essence, and yet he is
called a prophet. Therefore in like manner the blessed can be called
prophets.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, prophecy is a "divine revelation." Now divine
revelations are made even to the blessed angels. Therefore even blessed
angels can be prophets.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Christ was a comprehensor from the moment of His
conception; and yet He calls Himself a prophet (Mt. 13:57), when He says:
"A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country." Therefore even
comprehensors and the blessed can be called prophets.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, it is written of Samuel (Ecclus. 46:23): "He lifted up
his voice from the earth in prophecy to blot out the wickedness of the
nation." Therefore other saints can likewise be called prophets after
they have died.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, The prophetic word is compared (2 Pt. 1:19) to a "light
that shineth in a dark place." Now there is no darkness in the blessed.
Therefore they cannot be called prophets.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, Prophecy denotes vision of some supernatural truth as
being far remote from us. This happens in two ways. First, on the part of
the knowledge itself, because, to wit, the supernatural truth is not
known in itself, but in some of its effects; and this truth will be more
remote if it be known by means of images of corporeal things, than if it
be known in its intelligible effects; and such most of all is the
prophetic vision, which is conveyed by images and likenesses of corporeal
things. Secondly, vision is remote on the part of the seer, because, to
wit, he has not yet attained completely to his ultimate perfection,
according to 2 Cor. 5:6, "While we are in the body, we are absent from
the Lord."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] Body Para. 2/2

Now in neither of these ways are the blessed remote; wherefore they
cannot be called prophets.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: This vision of Moses was interrupted after the manner of a
passion, and was not permanent like the beatific vision, wherefore he was
as yet a seer from afar. For this reason his vision did not entirely lose
the character of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The divine revelation is made to the angels, not as being
far distant, but as already wholly united to God; wherefore their
revelation has not the character of prophecy.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: Christ was at the same time comprehensor and wayfarer [*Cf.
TP, QQ[9], seqq.]. Consequently the notion of prophecy is not applicable
to Him as a comprehensor, but only as a wayfarer.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] R.O. 4 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 4: Samuel had not yet attained to the state of blessedness.
Wherefore although by God's will the soul itself of Samuel foretold to
Saul the issue of the war as revealed to him by God, this pertains to the
nature of prophecy. It is not the same with the saints who are now in
heaven. Nor does it make any difference that this is stated to have been
brought about by the demons' art, because although the demons are unable
to evoke the soul of a saint, or to force it to do any particular thing,
this can be done by the power of God, so that when the demon is
consulted, God Himself declares the truth by His messenger: even as He
gave a true answer by Elias to the King's messengers who were sent to
consult the god of Accaron (4 Kgs. 1).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[5] R.O. 4 Para. 2/2

It might also be replied [*The Book of Ecclesiasticus was not as yet
declared by the Church to be Canonical Scripture; Cf. FP, Q[89], A[8], ad
2] that it was not the soul of Samuel, but a demon impersonating him; and
that the wise man calls him Samuel, and describes his prediction as
prophetic, in accordance with the thoughts of Saul and the bystanders who
were of this opinion.


Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether the degrees of prophecy change as time goes on?

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1
OBJ 1: It would seem that the degrees of prophecy change as time goes
on. For prophecy is directed to the knowledge of Divine things, as stated
above (A[2]). Now according to Gregory (Hom. in Ezech.), "knowledge of
God went on increasing as time went on." Therefore degrees of prophecy
should be distinguished according to the process of time.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, prophetic revelation is conveyed by God speaking to man;
while the prophets declared both in words and in writing the things
revealed to them. Now it is written (1 Kgs. 3:1) that before the time of
Samuel "the word of the Lord was precious," i.e. rare; and yet afterwards
it was delivered to many. In like manner the books of the prophets do not
appear to have been written before the time of Isaias, to whom it was
said (Is. 8:1): "Take thee a great book and write in it with a man's
pen," after which many prophets wrote their prophecies. Therefore it
would seem that in course of time the degree of prophecy made progress.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, our Lord said (Mt. 11:13): "The prophets and the law
prophesied until John"; and afterwards the gift of prophecy was in
Christ's disciples in a much more excellent manner than in the prophets
of old, according to Eph. 3:5, "In other generations" the mystery of
Christ "was not known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His
holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit." Therefore it would seem that
in course of time the degree of prophecy advanced.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, As stated above (A[4]), Moses was the greatest of the
prophets, and yet he preceded the other prophets. Therefore prophecy did
not advance in degree as time went on.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] Body Para. 1/4

I answer that, As stated above (A[2]), prophecy is directed to the
knowledge of Divine truth, by the contemplation of which we are not only
instructed in faith, but also guided in our actions, according to Ps.
42:3, "Send forth Thy light and Thy truth: they have conducted me." Now
our faith consists chiefly in two things: first, in the true knowledge of
God, according to Heb. 11:6, "He that cometh to God must believe that He
is"; secondly, in the mystery of Christ's incarnation, according to Jn.
14:1, "You believe in God, believe also in Me." Accordingly, if we speak
of prophecy as directed to the Godhead as its end, it progressed
according to three divisions of time, namely before the law, under the
law, and under grace. For before the law, Abraham and the other
patriarchs were prophetically taught things pertinent to faith in the
Godhead. Hence they are called prophets, according to Ps. 104:15, "Do no
evil to My prophets," which words are said especially on behalf of
Abraham and Isaac. Under the Law prophetic revelation of things pertinent
to faith in the Godhead was made in a yet more excellent way than
hitherto, because then not only certain special persons or families but
the whole people had to be instructed in these matters. Hence the Lord
said to Moses (Ex. 6:2,3): "I am the Lord that appeared to Abraham, to
Isaac, and to Jacob, by the name of God almighty, and My name Adonai I
did not show to them"; because previously the patriarchs had been taught
to believe in a general way in God, one and Almighty, while Moses was
more fully instructed in the simplicity of the Divine essence, when it
was said to him (Ex. 3:14): "I am Who am"; and this name is signified by
Jews in the word "Adonai" on account of their veneration for that
unspeakable name. Afterwards in the time of grace the mystery of the
Trinity was revealed by the Son of God Himself, according to Mt. 28:19: "Going . . . teach ye all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] Body Para. 2/4

In each state, however, the most excellent revelation was that which was
given first. Now the first revelation, before the Law, was given to
Abraham, for it was at that time that men began to stray from faith in
one God by turning aside to idolatry, whereas hitherto no such revelation
was necessary while all persevered in the worship of one God. A less
excellent revelation was made to Isaac, being founded on that which was
made to Abraham. Wherefore it was said to him (Gn. 26:24): "I am the God
of Abraham thy father," and in like manner to Jacob (Gn. 28:13): "I am
the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac." Again in the state
of the Law the first revelation which was given to Moses was more
excellent, and on this revelation all the other revelations to the
prophets were founded. And so, too, in the time of grace the entire faith
of the Church is founded on the revelation vouchsafed to the apostles,
concerning the faith in one God and three Persons, according to Mt.
16:18, "On this rock," i.e. of thy confession, "I will build My Church."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] Body Para. 3/4

As to the faith in Christ's incarnation, it is evident that the nearer
men were to Christ, whether before or after Him, the more fully, for the
most part, were they instructed on this point, and after Him more fully
than before, as the Apostle declares (Eph. 3:5).

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] Body Para. 4/4

As regards the guidance of human acts, the prophetic revelation varied
not according to the course of time, but according as circumstances
required, because as it is written (Prov. 29:18), "When prophecy shall
fail, the people shall be scattered abroad." Wherefore at all times men
were divinely instructed about what they were to do, according as it was
expedient for the spiritual welfare of the elect.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The saying of Gregory is to be referred to the time before
Christ's incarnation, as regards the knowledge of this mystery.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 1/2

Reply OBJ 2: As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xviii, 27), "just as in the
early days of the Assyrian kingdom promises were made most explicitly to
Abraham, so at the outset of the western Babylon," which is Rome, "and
under its sway Christ was to come, in Whom were to be fulfilled the
promises made through the prophetic oracles testifying in word and
writing to that great event to come," the promises, namely, which were
made to Abraham. "For while prophets were scarcely ever lacking to the
people of Israel from the time that they began to have kings, it was
exclusively for their benefit, not for that of the nations. But when
those prophetic writings were being set up with greater publicity, which
at some future time were to benefit the nations, it was fitting to begin
when this city," Rome to wit, "was being built, which was to govern the
nations."

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] R.O. 2 Para. 2/2

The reason why it behooved that nation to have a number of prophets
especially at the time of the kings, was that then it was not over-ridden
by other nations, but had its own king; wherefore it behooved the people,
as enjoying liberty, to have prophets to teach them what to do.

Aquin.: SMT SS Q[174] A[6] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: The prophets who foretold the coming of Christ could not
continue further than John, who with his finger pointed to Christ
actually present. Nevertheless as Jerome says on this passage, "This does
not mean that there were no more prophets after John. For we read in the
Acts of the apostles that Agabus and the four maidens, daughters of
Philip, prophesied." John, too, wrote a prophetic book about the end of
the Church; and at all times there have not been lacking persons having
the spirit of prophecy, not indeed for the declaration of any new
doctrine of faith, but for the direction of human acts. Thus Augustine
says (De Civ. Dei v, 26) that "the emperor Theodosius sent to John who
dwelt in the Egyptian desert, and whom he knew by his ever-increasing
fame to be endowed with the prophetic spirit: and from him he received a
message assuring him of victory."





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