Voice of God

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Bat Kol)
Jump to: navigation, search
To be distinguished from Voice of the Gods.
"Bat kol" redirects here. For the Jewish lesbian organization, see Bat Kol (organization).
"Vox dei" redirects here. For the Argentine rock band, see Vox Dei.
Ezekiel hears the voice, represented by the Hand of God, Dura-Europos Synagogue, 3rd century CE.

In Judaism and Christianity, the voice of God (Hebrew: בּת קול, bat kol or bath ḳōl, literally daughter of a voice; Latin: vox dei; Persian: ندا, Neda) is a "heavenly or divine voice which proclaims God's will or judgment."[1] It is "identified with the Holy Spirit, even with God; but it differed essentially from the Prophets, though these spoke as the medium of the Holy Spirit."[1]

Revelation[edit]

The characteristic attributes of the voice of God are the invisibility of the speaker and a certain remarkable quality in the sound, regardless of its strength or weakness. A sound proceeding from some invisible source was considered a heavenly voice, since the revelation on Sinai was given in that way in Deuteronomy 4:12: "Ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice". In this account, God reveals himself to man through his organs of hearing, not through those of sight. Even the prophet Ezekiel, who sees many visions, "heard a voice of one that spake" (Ezek 1:28); similarly, Elijah recognized God by a "still, small voice," and a voice addressed him (I Kings 19:12–13; compare Job 4:16); sometimes God's voice rang from the heights, from Jerusalem, from Zion (Ezek. 1:25; Jer 25:30; Joel 4:16–17; Amos 1:2, etc.); and God's voice was heard in the thunder and in the roar of the sea.[1]

The concept appears in Dan 4:31:[2]

עוד מלתא בפם מלכא קל מן־שׁמיא נפל לך אמרין נבוכדנצר מלכא מלכותה עדת מנך
[T]here fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee (emphasis added).

In Jewish art the Bat Ḳol was often represented by the Hand of God, as in the Synagogue of Dura-Europas, which Christian art also adopted for the relevant New Testament scenes.

In the New Testament[edit]

In the New Testament mention of “a voice from heaven” occurs in the following passages: Mat 3:17; Mar 1:11;[3] Luk 3:22 (at the baptism of Jesus); Mat 17:5; Mar 9:7; Luk 9:35 (at the transfiguration); Joh 12:28 (shortly before the Passion); Acts 9:4; Acts 22:7; Acts 26:14 (conversion of Paul), and Acts 10:13, Acts 10:15 (instruction of Peter concerning the clean and unclean). In the period of the Tannaim (circa 100 BCE-200 CE) the term bath ḳōl was in very frequent use and was understood to signify not the direct voice of God, which was held to be supersensible, but the echo of the voice (the bath being somewhat arbitrarily taken to express the distinction). The rabbis held that bath ḳōl had been an occasional means of divine communication throughout the whole history of Israel and that since the cessation of the prophetic gift it was the sole means of Divine revelation. It is noteworthy that the rabbinical conception of bath ḳōl sprang up in the period of the decline of Old Testament prophecy and flourished in the period of extreme traditionalism. Where the gift of prophecy was believed to be lacking – perhaps even because of this lack – there grew up an inordinate desire for special divine manifestations. Often a voice from heaven was looked for to clear up matters of doubt and even to decide between conflicting interpretations of the law. So strong had this tendency become that Rabbi Joshua (c. 100 CE) felt it to be necessary to oppose it and to insist upon the supremacy and the sufficiency of the written law.

It is clear that we have here to do with a conception of the nature and means of divine revelation that is distinctly inferior to the Biblical view. For even in the Biblical passages where mention is made of the voice from heaven, all that is really essential to the revelation is already present, at least in principle, without the audible voice.[2]

Interpretation[edit]

Josephus (Ant., XIII, x, 3) relates that John Hyrcanus (135–104 BCE) heard a voice while offering a burnt sacrifice in the temple, which Josephus expressly interprets as the voice of God.[2]

Christian scholars interpreted Bath Kol as the Jews' replacement for the great prophets when, "after the death of Malachi, the spirit of prophecy wholly ceased in Israel" (taking the name to refer to its being "the daughter" of the main prophetic "voice").[4]

People called the "Voice of God"[edit]

Media[edit]

The generic term "voice of God" is commonly used in theatrical productions and staging, and refers to any anonymous, disembodied voice used to deliver general messages to the audience. Examples may include speaker introductions, audience directions and performer substitutions.

The origin of the "Voice of God" narration style was most probably in Time Inc's "March of Time"[6] news-radio and news-film series, for which Orson Welles was an occasional voice-over actor, and was subsequently duplicated in Welles' "Citizen Kane"[7] News On The March sequence (the first reel of the film), much to the delight of Henry R. Luce, Time's president.

The term "Voice of God weapons" has also been used by conspiracy theorists, referring to technology used by the CIA to insert voices and sounds into one's head.[8]

The Voice of God may also refer to a group of news reporters (Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, etc.) or a style of news reporting from an era in which television news reporters were thought to be faultlessly objective, reporting only facts devoid of any personal slant or opinion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Jewish Encyclopedia
  2. ^ a b c The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
  3. ^ And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Mark 1:11
  4. ^ The Old and New Testament connected in the history of the Jews
  5. ^ Simpson, Dave (26 November 2009). "Elizabeth Fraser: the Cocteau Twins and me". The Guardian. 
  6. ^ Fielding, Raymond. The March of Time, 1935-1951. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978
  7. ^ Mary Wood. "Citizen Kane and other imitators". University of Virginia. Retrieved 2010-02-27. 
  8. ^ Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura, Season 3, Episode 7, 'Brain Invaders'.

Sources[edit]

This article incorporates text from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article "Bath Kol", a publication now in the public domain.