A philosophical exploration of three models of the concept of divine revelation

Revelation in Religious Belief

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George I. Mavrodes

"Mavrodes identifies some novel possibilities for divine revelatory action and explores them with the aid of ingenious and original analogies. The treatment of possible modes of revelation is lucid, thorough and insightful. It provides a fresh perspective on a topic heretofore neglected by contemporary philosophers of religion."
Philip L. Quinn, University of Notre Dame

In this philosophical exploration of the concept of divine revelation, George I. Mavrodes examines the ways in which revelation might bear on the generation and justification of religious belief. Locating the topic of revelation within the broader field of the epistemology of religion, he discusses the possibilities of divine action in the world in terms of three categories: the Causation Model, the Manifestation Model, and the Communication Model.

In the Causation Model, God produces an effect in the person experiencing the revelation. The Manifestation Model shows God represented through sensory phenomena. In the Communication Model the message of God is delivered in a manner analogous to human speech.

Western theologians and philosophers in the Christian tradition have commonly divided theological thinking into rational or natural theology and revealed theology. Addressing the content of revealed theology, Mavrodes acknowledges that these categories fail to be mutually exclusive, and admits that some of what he describes as revelation does not fit easily into that definition.

Probably the most important special epistemological concept in Christianity, revelation is also central to other strongly theistic religions, such as Judaism and Islam. Because this concept has been largely ignored by contemporary analytic philosophers, Mavrodesí attempt to begin a substantial investigation and discussion is particularly important.


About the Author(s)

George I. Mavrodes is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan and author of Belief in God: A Study in the Epistemology of Religion.

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