Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Vaticinia ex eventu

A phrase that refers to something as a 'prophecy' after the event—that after something occurred, it was written or recorded as if being prophesied prior to the event.

Vaticinia ex eventu is sometimes heralded by Modernistic prejudice instead of historic and scientific evidence. An example of this is the dating of the book of Daniel from the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is widely dated shortly after the time of the Maccabees not because the evidence suggests this date, but because Daniel's prophecy describes specific events up to the time of the Maccabees. Therefore it must have been written after that time since there is no such thing as prophecy (or because someone does not believe Daniel could have foretold certain things).

But there are times when vaticinia ex eventu is called for because this is either an adaquate or neccessary conclusion of the evidence. An example of that is the Book of Mormon describing Yeshua, the gospel, and the New Testament period as if such things were written in the book of Mormon prior to the events.

Christians, however, should not fall into the error of those with a Modernistic prejudice by going to the opposite extreme and simply believing every prophecy handed down to them. In that case they have simply exchanged one prejudice for another and are really no different than those who reject their faith. Instead of taking the road of a thorough-going skepticism, they have taken the road of a thorough-going naive impressionism, both of which can be equally fatal to truth.


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