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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible


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1. In OT . In its earlier form the vision is closely associated with belief in dreams (wh. see) as the normal vehicle of Divine revelation. The two words are repeatedly used of the same experience, the dream being rather the form , the vision the substance ( e.g . Daniel 1:17 ; Daniel 2:28 ; Daniel 4:5 , cf. Joel 2:28 ). The common phrase ‘visions of the night’ embodies the same conception ( Daniel 2:19 , Job 4:13 , Genesis 46:2 ; cf. 1 Samuel 3:1-15 , Acts 16:9 ). In the darkness, when the eye is closed ( Numbers 24:3-4 ) and the natural faculties are suspended by sleep, God speaks to men. A further stage is the belief in an exalted condition of quickened spiritual discernment (‘ecstasy’ Acts 11:5 ; Acts 22:17 , cf. Genesis 15:12 [LXX [Note: Septuagint.] ]), detached from the dream-state and furthered by fasting, prayer, and self-discipline ( Daniel 10:2-9 , cf. Acts 10:9-11 ). But in the later OT books neither ecstasy nor the objective vision, with its disclosure in cryptic symbolism of future happenings (Daniel), or of the nature and purposes of God (Ezekiel, Zechariah), has a place in the normal line of development of man’s conception of the methods of Divine revelation. The earlier prophets had already attained to the idea of vision as inspired insight, of revelation as an inward and ethical word of God ( Isaiah 1:1 ; Isaiah 2:1 etc.; cf. 1 Samuel 3:1 , Psalms 89:19 ). Their prophetic consciousness is not born of special theophanies, but rather of a resistless sense of constraint upon them to discern and utter the Divine will ( Amos 7:14 ; Amos 7:16 . Isaiah 6:5 , Jeremiah 1:6 , Ezekiel 3:12-16 ). Ecstasies and visual appearances are the exception ( Amos 7:1-9 ; Amos 8:1 , Isaiah 6:1-13 , Jeremiah 1:11-13 ). In Isaiah 22:1 ; Isaiah 22:5 gç’ hizzâyôn valley of vision ’ (EV [Note: English Version.] ) is possibly a mistake for gç’ Hinnôm , ‘Valley of Hinnom.’

2. In NT . St. Paul once makes incidental reference to his ‘visions’ ( 2 Corinthians 12:1 ), and perhaps confirms the objective character of the revelation to him on the road to Damascus ( Galatians 1:11-17 , 1 Corinthians 9:1 ; 1 Corinthians 15:8 ). Visions are also recorded in Luke 1:1-80 ; Luke 2:1-52 , Acts 10:1-48 ; Acts 11:1-30 ; Acts 16:1-40 ; and the term is once applied to the Transfiguration ( Matthew 17:9 ; Mk. Lk. ‘the things which they had seen’). But the NT vision is practically confined to the Apocalyptic imagery of the Book of Revelation.

S. W. Green.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Vision'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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