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Enlargement of the human psyche so as to produce an increase in vision and knowledge of the will of God. Though the actual word ‘inspiration’ is never used in the traditional sources, the idea that God endows spiritually gifted persons with insights that are not available to ordinary mortals is found frequently throughout the Bible, the Rabbinic literature, and among the standard Jewish thinkers. According to the tradition there are various degrees of inspiration: prophecy; the Holy Spirit; the heavenly voice (Bat Kol); the appearance of Elijah; and dreams. Some modernists, influenced by the scientific picture of the universe, have abandoned the concept of God as a transcendental being and have understood inspiration in purely naturalistic terms–that, for instance, the Bible is inspired in the way that Shakespeare or Mozart are said to be ‘inspired’. But, while critical investigation (see BIBLICAL CRITICISM) has succeeded in raising powerful objections to traditional views, and while there is a greater acknowledgement of the human element, there is no valid reason for rejecting the idea of inspiration itself. It can be put in this way: modern Jews are far less certain that works considered to be the result of divine inspiration are really so, yet a belief in God surely cannot rule out that human beings have encountered God in the special manner implied by the idea of inspiration.

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies — Biblical Studies.

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