Vaticinium ex eventu

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This article is about historiography and theology. For paranormal criticism, see Postdiction. For the scientific technique, see Retrodiction.

Vaticinium ex eventu ("Prophecy from the event") is a technical theological or historiographical term referring to a prophecy written after the author already had information about the events he was "foretelling". The text is written so as to appear that the prophecy had taken place before the event, when in fact it was written after the events supposedly predicted. Vaticinium ex eventu is a form of hindsight bias. The concept is similar but distinct from postdiction, where prophecies that were genuinely written or spoken before the event are reinterpreted after the event to fit the facts as they occurred.


In religious scripture[edit]

The Book of Daniel is considered by some to show vaticinium ex eventu, by its seeming foreknowledge of events up to Alexander's conquest but nothing from the second century BCE.[1]

The Sibylline oracles are held to be vaticinia ex eventu written in imitation of the Roman Sibylline Books, from the later Hellenistic era to Late Antiquity, first by Jews of Alexandria and later by Christians throughout the Roman world.

In Hinduism, the prophet Madhva made a vaticinium ex eventu in the thirteenth century when he applied a Vedic prophecy to himself, declaring himself to be an incarnation.

The Book of Mormon, at least from the viewpoint of those outside the Latter-Day Saints religions, contains many vaticinia ex eventu, such as the discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus or the foretelling of the founder, Joseph Smith Jr..


  1. ^ Lester L. Grabbe (2001). "A Dan(iel) For All Seasons". In John Joseph Collins, Peter W. Flint. The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception. supplements to Vetus Testamentum ( vol. 83) 1. Leiden & Boston: Brill. ISBN 9004226753.  page 230.