The Reformation of Prophecy: Early Modern Interpretations of the Prophet & Old Testament

G. Sujin Pak
Oxford University Press
Published Year: 
Cover of new book by Sujin Pak with images of historical Protestant figures

G. Sujin Pak, associate professor of the history of Christianity and vice dean of Academic Affairs at Duke Divinity School, has written a new book analyzing Protestant figures and movements of the Protestant reformations in light of their uses and interpretation of biblical prophecy.

The book, The Reformation of Prophecy: Early Modern Interpretations of the Prophet & Old Testament, was published by Oxford University Press in late June. In her analysis, Pak highlights the central connection between the Protestant reformers’ use of the prophet and biblical prophecy and their aim to promote Scripture's authority and clarity.

Pak explains how Protestant reformers found the prophet and biblical prophecy to be exceptionally effective for framing their reforming work under the authority of Scripture  ̶  for the true prophet speaks the Word of God alone and calls the people, their worship, and their beliefs and practices back to the Word of God.

Using the prophet and biblical prophecy as a powerful lens through which to view many aspects of the reformers in the 16th and 17th centuries, Pak argues that these prophetic concepts served the substantial purposes of articulating a theology of the priesthood of all believers, a biblical model of the pastoral office, a biblical vision of the reform of worship, and biblical processes for discerning right interpretation of Scripture.

In the book, Pak demonstrates the ways in which understandings of the prophet and biblical prophecy contributed to the formation of distinct confessional identities. She then demonstrates the waning of explicit prophetic terminology, particularly among the next generation of Protestant leaders. Pak also shows that the Protestant reformers eventually concluded that the figure of the prophet carried with it as many problems as it did benefits, though they continued to give much time and attention to the exegesis of biblical prophetic writings.

Pak, who specializes in the history of Christianity in late medieval and early modern Europe, is also the author of The Judaizing Calvin, published in 2010 also by Oxford University Press.