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Author: Ted Fairchild

Identify the unique features of revelations as a form of religious communication.

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Hello. Welcome. Today we're going to discuss the nature of revelations in several religious traditions.

Nearly every religion has some form of revelation that has informed its scriptures, customs, and traditions in general. Those that don't emphasize revelation as much might be considered religious or spiritual philosophies, for example, Taoism or Confucianism. generally the non-theistic religions, which are based on certain principles that they understand to be universal.

The concept of revelation refers to a form of direct communication from God to a human recipient, usually through some intermediary. Angels are often mentioned in the Abrahamic monotheistic traditions. In most cases, what is communicated become sacred text as it is written down. So revelation refers to the process whereby some truth of a divine nature is revealed and received. The resulting experience, and the associated text that is subsequently written down, is called revelation. This entire process, the content and the form of it, is called revelation.

Many of the world religions have many accounts of revelation, and they are treated with great reverence by the community of religious adherents. These communications are an unusual and unique form of religious narrative. They stand apart from other religious narratives that might be considered divinely inspired. Revelations extend directly from God to man or woman, who in turn function as a mouthpiece for God. And usually both revelation and inspiration demand some kind of engagement from the community. And these engagements are the unfolding narratives of the various religions.

Now let's talk about the idea of divine authorship. With revelations there is a human mouthpiece for God. The originator, authorizing the release of divine truth, is God. And God is also the writer. The words themselves, in both form and content, are therefore usually believed to be divine. The human intermediary is a mouthpiece and scribe, or you could say a stenographer taking dictation.

The immediacy that this suggests, the direct link with something believed to be beyond and other than human, sets it apart from divine inspiration. Someone divinely inspired is an interpreter of truth, nevertheless, perhaps revealed in some form at some time. But the difference with divine inspiration is that an additional process takes place, wherein the human agent participates as a co-creator in the process of conveying the truth, or the particular truth that's being conveyed. In this sense, the religious narrative is considered to be delivered indirectly.

And spiritual revelations form the centerpiece of many religions. In Judaism there are numerous-- for example, in the book of Exodus with the figure of Moses, to whom God reveals himself in the burning bush, instructing him to lead the Israelites out from captivity in Egypt and back to their home in Canaan, the promised land, and later in the narrative on Mount Sinai, where Moses is entrusted with the Ten Commandments from God.

In Christianity, it could be said that the ultimate and supreme revelation of God is the person of Jesus Christ, whose life, his teachings and death and resurrection together form the religious narratives of the tradition. And for Muslims, it is the figure of Mohammad, the prophet Mohammad, who received God's final and ultimate revelation, it is believed, through the angel Gabriel. And this direct communication with God-- Allah-- is the Qur'an, the words of the Qur'an.

Among the Eastern religions, Hinduism has different categories of sacred text, Shurti and Smriti. Smriti refers to "what is remembered," and Shruti means "what is heard." And certain texts are believed to have been heard, or revealed, from a divine source.

Now we can quickly review and summarize. Divine revelation, or revelation, has to do with communication between a divine source and a human recipient. Some kind of divine truth is communicated directly without any intermediaries. With divine inspiration, on the other hand, there is a co-creative process that occurs. Human agency is involved. There is some kind of interpretation of truth. And then comes often a written text.

We mentioned many cases of revelation in the Abrahamic traditions, in Judaism, and Christianity, and Islam. And we also mentioned in Hinduism there are different texts that are categorized according to whether they are remembered texts or whether they are directly revealed and heard texts.

Terms to Know

One who authorizes, permits, or approves. E.g., Christians believe that although human hands wrote down the words in the Bible, God is its "author" and used human beings as instruments in its writing.


In religious studies, a direct communication from God.