In Judaism and Christianity, the voice of
God (Hebrew: בּת קול,
bat kol or bath ḳōl, literally daughter of a voice; Latin: vox dei)
is a "heavenly or divine voice which proclaims God's will or
judgment." 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."
1.1 In the New Testament
2 In media
3 People called the "Voice of God"
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
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);
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 3:16–17; Amos 1:2, etc.); and God's voice was
heard in the thunder and in the roar of the sea.
The concept appears in Dan 4:31:
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
New Testament mention of “a voice from heaven” occurs in
the following passages: Matt 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22 (at the
baptism of Jesus); Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35 (at the
transfiguration); John 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
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
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
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.
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").
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
The origin of the "Voice of God" narration style was most probably in
Time Inc's "March of Time" news-radio and news-film series, for
Orson Welles was an occasional voice-over actor, and was
subsequently duplicated in Welles' "Citizen Kane" News On The March
sequence (the first reel of the film), much to the delight of Henry R.
Luce, Time's president.
People called the "Voice of God"
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James Earl Jones, television, film and voice actor, best known for his
role as the voice of
Darth Vader in Star Wars.
Bob Sheppard, public-address announcer for New York Yankees baseball
games from 1951 to 2007 and for
New York Giants
New York Giants football games from
1956 to 2005
Don LaFontaine, narrator of many film trailers
Reed Hadley, narrator of numerous "docudrama" feature films and
Harry Kalas, Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster, narrated several NFL
Films Productions from 1984 until his death in 2009
John Facenda, Philadelphia newscaster who narrated several NFL Films
Productions from 1966 to 1984
Metatron, an archangel and God's celestial scribe, according to Hebrew
Morgan Freeman, narrator of films and a portrayer of
God in Bruce
Almighty and Evan Almighty
Leonard Nimoy, narrator of films and games, especially for his
appearance in the computer game Civilization IV
Warwick Merry, National Speakers Association of Australia Voice over
specialist and Master MC
Don Pardo, television personality and former announcer on Saturday
Hideo Kojima, creator of the
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid video game series,
credited as the Voice of
God in the credits of
Metal Gear Solid
Metal Gear Solid 4:
Guns of the Patriots
^ a b c The Jewish Encyclopedia
^ a b c The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
^ And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you
I am well pleased."Mark 1:11
^ The Old and
New Testament connected in the history of the Jews
^ Fielding, Raymond. The March of Time, 1935-1951. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1978
^ Mary Wood. "
Citizen Kane and other imitators". University of
Virginia. Retrieved 2010-02-27.
This page draws text from 'The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and
Instruction', Vol. 10, Issue 273, September 15, 1827, a text now in
the public domain.
Humphrey Prideaux, The Old and
New Testament connected in the history
of the Jews, 1851.
Thomas de Quincey, Narrative And Miscellaneous Papers, Vol. II.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain:
Kaufmann Kohler and
Ludwig Blau (1901–1906).
"BAT ḲOL". In Singer, Isidore; et al. Jewish Encyclopedia. New York:
Funk & Wagnalls Company.
This article incorporates text from the International Standard Bible
Encyclopedia article "Bath Kol", a publication now in the pu