Kaplan’s inaugural study of the psychological basis of prophecy is a landmark in the history of prophetic exploration. Setting the standard for future studies of the prophets, this remarkable book covers the various conceptions of prophets and their attendant phenomena of premonition, revelation, dreams, visions, ecstasy, and inspiration.
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Anticipating the more famous work on this subject by Abraham Heschel, Jacob Kaplan was the first to delve into the mind of the prophets using the newly established discipline of psychology. Few historical characters have been as engaging as the prophets of ancient Israel. Kaplan begins his exploration by examining the origin of the word “prophet” in Hebrew, and popular conceptions of the prophets as wonder workers, predictors of the future, and teachers of ethics. After considering miracles and the relationship between prophets and other religious professionals in the ancient Near East, Kaplan examines the prophetic genius. In regard to the psychology of prophecy, the concept of the prophetic call and the attendant phenomena of premonition, revelation, the word of God, dreams, visions, ecstasy, and inspiration are all important elements thoroughly explored. True to his psychological approach, Kaplan determines that prophetic phenomena are profoundly human, and are found in cultures throughout the world.
Jacob Hyman Kaplan (1874-1965) was educated at Hebrew Union College and earned his Ph.D. at the University of Denver. He was a Reform Rabbi and served for many years at Temple Israel in Miami. His best known book is Sparks from a Mental Anvil.