prophet

In Christianity and Islam

In the New Testament, the term prophecy is used of enthusiastic, presumably inspired utterances. This tradition was perpetuated in Montanism, an early Christian sect (late 2d cent. A.D.). Such prophecy has a somewhat dubious history in Christianity (e.g., in Joachim of Floris and Joanna Southcott), but there have been millennialists and miracle-working preachers among the unassailably orthodox (e.g., St. Vincent Ferrer). Some varieties of Protestantism have emphasized "inspired" utterances or behavior; the most spectacular were the Anabaptists (e.g., Thomas Münzer and John of Leiden). Emanuel Swedenborg and Joseph Smith are examples of self-proclaimed prophets who came out of Protestant backgrounds. Islam confesses Muhammad as the last and greatest of prophets. He gathered a community based on his being the divine messenger of the final revelation of God.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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