Holy Spirit

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Holy Spirit is understood differently among the Abrahamic religions. [1] [2] The term is also used to describe aspects of other religions and belief structures.

The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as Abrahamism, are a group of Semitic-originated religious communities of faith that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abraham. The Abrahamic religions are monotheistic, with the term deriving from the patriarch Abraham.

Contents

Etymology

The word spirit (from the Latin spiritus meaning "breath") appears either alone or with other words, in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the New Testament. Combinations include expressions such as the "Holy Spirit", "Spirit of God", and in Christianity, "Spirit of Christ". [3]

A spirit is a supernatural being, often, but not exclusively, a non-physical entity; such as a ghost, fairy, or angel. In English Bibles, "the Spirit", specifically denotes the Holy Spirit.

Hebrew Bible Canonical collection of Hebrew scripture

The Hebrew Bible, which is also called the Tanakh or sometimes the Mikra, is the canonical collection of Hebrew scriptures. These texts are almost exclusively in Biblical Hebrew, except for some Biblical Aramaic passages in the books of Daniel and Ezra. The Hebrew Bible is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT) and it consists of 24 books, while the translations divide essentially the same material into 39 books for the Protestant Bible.

Old Testament First part of Christian Bibles based on the Hebrew Bible

The Old Testament is the first part of Christian Bibles, based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible, a collection of ancient religious writings by the Israelites believed by most Christians and religious Jews to be the sacred Word of God. The second part of the Christian Bible is the New Testament.

The word spirit is rendered as רוּחַ (ruach) in Hebrew-language parts of the Old Testament. [4] In its Aramaic parts, the term is rûacḥ. [5] The Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, translates the word as πνεῦμα ( pneuma ). [4] This is the same word that is used throughout the New Testament, written originally in Greek. [6]

Biblical Aramaic is the form of Aramaic that is used in the books of Daniel and Ezra in the Hebrew Bible. It should not be confused with the Aramaic paraphrases, explanations and expansions of the Hebrew scriptures, which are known as targumim.

Septuagint Greek translation of Hebrew scriptures

The Septuagint is the earliest extant Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. It is estimated that the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, known as the Torah or Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE and the remaining texts were translated in the 2nd century BCE. The Septuagint was the Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and was in wide use by the time of Jesus and Paul of Tarsus because most Jews could no longer read Hebrew. For this reason it is quoted more often than the Hebrew Old Testament in the New Testament, particularly in the Pauline epistles, by the Apostolic Fathers, and later by the Greek Church Fathers.

Pneuma (πνεῦμα) is an ancient Greek word for "breath", and in a religious context for "spirit" or "soul". It has various technical meanings for medical writers and philosophers of classical antiquity, particularly in regard to physiology, and is also used in Greek translations of ruach רוח in the Hebrew Bible, and in the Greek New Testament. In classical philosophy, it is distinguishable from psyche (ψυχή), which originally meant "breath of life", but is regularly translated as "spirit" or most often "soul".

The English term spirit comes from its Latin origin, spiritus, which is how the Vulgate translates both the Old and New Testament concept. [7] The alternative term, "Holy Ghost", comes from Old English translations of spiritus. [8]

Vulgate Latin translation of the Bible

The Vulgate is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible that was to become the Catholic Church's officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible during the 16th century, and is still used fundamentally in the Latin Church to this day. The translation was largely the work of Jerome, who in 382 had been commissioned by Pope Damasus I to revise the Vetus Latina Gospels then in use by the Roman Church. Jerome, on his own initiative, extended this work of revision and translation to include most of the books of the Bible; and once published, the new version became widely adopted; and over succeeding centuries eventually eclipsed the Vetus Latina, so that by the 13th century it had taken over from the former version the appellation of versio vulgata or vulgata for short.

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Comparative religion

The Hebrew Bible contains the term "spirit of God" (ruach hakodesh) in the sense of the might of a unitary God. This meaning is different from the Christian concept of "Holy Spirit" as one personality of God in the Trinity. [9]

In Judaism, Holy Spirit refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the universe or over God's creatures, in given contexts.

God in Judaism The concept of God in the Jewish faith

In Judaism, God has been conceived in a variety of ways. Traditionally, Judaism holds that YHWH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the national god of the Israelites, delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and gave them the Law of Moses at biblical Mount Sinai as described in the Torah. According to the rationalist stream of Judaism articulated by Maimonides, which later came to dominate much of official traditional Jewish thought, God is understood as the absolute one, indivisible, and incomparable being who is the ultimate cause of all existence. Traditional interpretations of Judaism generally emphasize that God is personal yet also transcendent, while some modern interpretations of Judaism emphasize that God is a force or ideal.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

The Christian concept tends to emphasize the moral aspect of the Holy Spirit more than Judaism, evident in the epithet Holy Spirit that appeared in Jewish religious writings only relatively late but was a common expression in the Christian New Testament. [10]

Morality differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper

Morality is the differentiation of intentions, decisions and actions between those that are distinguished as proper and those that are improper. Morality can be a body of standards or principles derived from a code of conduct from a particular philosophy, religion or culture, or it can derive from a standard that a person believes should be universal. Morality may also be specifically synonymous with "goodness" or "rightness".

Judaism The ethnic religion of the Jewish people

Judaism is the ethnic religion of the Jewish people. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. It encompasses a wide body of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.

According to theologian Rudolf Bultmann, there are two ways to think about the Holy Spirit: "animistic" and "dynamistic". In animistic thinking, it is "an independent agent, a personal power which like a demon can fall upon a man and take possession of him, enabling him or compelling him to perform manifestations of power" while in dynamistic thought it "appears as an impersonal force which fills a man like a fluid". [11] Both kinds of thought appear in Jewish and Christian scripture, but animistic is more typical of the Old Testament whereas dynamistic is more common in the New Testament. [12] The distinction coincides with the Holy Spirit as either a temporary or permanent gift. In the Old Testament and Jewish thought, it is primarily temporary with a specific situation or task in mind, whereas in the Christian concept the gift resides in man permanently. [13]

On the surface, the Holy Spirit appears to have an equivalent in non-Abrahamic Hellenistic mystery religions. These religions included a distinction between the spirit and psyche, which is also seen in the Pauline epistles. According to proponents of the History of religions school, the Christian concept of the Holy Spirit cannot be explained from Jewish ideas alone without reference to the Hellenistic religions. [14] However, according to theologian Erik Konsmo, the views "are so dissimilar that the only legitimate connection one can make is with the Greek term πνεῦμα [ pneuma , Spirit] itself". [15]

Another link with ancient Greek thought is the Stoic idea of the spirit as anima mundi —or world soul—that unites all people. [15] Some believe that this can be seen in Paul's formulation of the concept of the Holy Spirit that unites Christians in Jesus Christ and love for one another, but Konsmo again thinks that this position is difficult to maintain. [16] In his Introduction to the 1964 book Meditations , the Anglican priest Maxwell Staniforth wrote:

Another Stoic concept which offered inspiration to the Church was that of 'divine Spirit'. Cleanthes, wishing to give more explicit meaning to Zeno's 'creative fire', had been the first to hit upon the term pneuma, or 'spirit', to describe it. Like fire, this intelligent 'spirit' was imagined as a tenuous substance akin to a current of air or breath, but essentially possessing the quality of warmth; it was immanent in the universe as God, and in man as the soul and life-giving principle. Clearly it is not a long step from this to the 'Holy Spirit' of Christian theology, the 'Lord and Giver of life', visibly manifested as tongues of fire at Pentecost and ever since associated – in the Christian as in the Stoic mind – with the ideas of vital fire and beneficent warmth. [17]

Abrahamic religions

Judaism

The Hebrew language phrase ruach ha-kodesh (Hebrew: רוח הקודש, "holy spirit" also transliterated ruacḥ ha-qodesh) is a term used in the Hebrew Bible and Jewish writings to refer to the spirit of YHWH (רוח יהוה). [18] The Hebrew terms ruacḥ qodshəka, "thy holy spirit" (רוּחַ קָדְשְׁךָ), and ruacḥ qodshō, "his holy spirit" (רוּחַ קָדְשׁוֹ) also occur (when a possessive suffix is added the definite article ha is dropped).

The Holy Spirit in Judaism generally refers to the divine aspect of prophecy and wisdom. It also refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of the Most High God, over the universe or over his creatures, in given contexts. [19]

Christianity

For the large majority of Christians, the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost, from Old English gast, "spirit") is the third [20] member of the Trinity: The "Triune God" manifested as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; each Person being God. [21] [22] [23] Two symbols from the New Testament canon are associated with the Holy Spirit in Christian iconography: a winged dove, and tongues of fire. [24] [25] Each depiction of the Holy Spirit arose from different historical accounts in the Gospel narratives; the first being at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River where the Holy Spirit was said to descend in the form of a dove as the voice of God the Father spoke as described in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; [24] the second being from the day of Pentecost, fifty days after Pascha where the descent of the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ, as tongues of fire as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. [26] Called "the unveiled epiphany of God", [27] the Holy Spirit is the One who empowers the followers of Jesus with spiritual gifts [28] [29] and power [30] [31] that enables the proclamation of Jesus Christ, and the power that brings conviction of faith.

Islam

The Holy Spirit (Arabic: روح القدس Ruh al-Qudus, "the holy spirit") is mentioned four times in the Qur'an, [32] where it acts as an agent of divine action or communication. While there are similarities to the Holy Spirit mentioned in Christian and Jewish sources, it is unclear if these four references refer to the same Holy Spirit. The Muslim interpretation of the Holy Spirit is generally consistent with other interpretations based upon the Old and the New Testaments. On the basis of narrations in certain Hadith some Muslims identify it with the angel Gabriel (Arabic Jibrāʾīl). [33] The Spirit (الروح al-Ruh, without the adjective "holy" or "exalted") is described, among other things, as the creative spirit from God by which God enlivened Adam, and which inspired in various ways God's messengers and prophets, including Jesus and Abraham. The belief in a "Holy Trinity", according to the Qur'an, is forbidden and deemed to be blasphemy. The same prohibition applies to any idea of the duality of God (Allah). [34] [35]

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith has the concept of the Most Great Spirit, seen as the bounty of God. [36] It is usually used to describe the descent of the Spirit of God upon the messengers/prophets of God who include, among others, Jesus, Muhammad and Bahá'u'lláh. [37]

In Bahá'í belief, the Holy Spirit is the conduit through which the wisdom of God becomes directly associated with his messenger, and it has been described variously in different religions such as the burning bush to Moses, the sacred fire to Zoroaster, the dove to Jesus, the angel Gabriel to Muhammad, and the Maid of Heaven to Bahá'u'lláh. [38] The Bahá'í view rejects the idea that the Holy Spirit is a partner to God in the Godhead, but rather is the pure essence of God's attributes. [39]

Other religions

Other religions reference a spirit that has a name resembling the Holy Spirit found in the Christian and Jewish faiths, but similar to Islam, this is a different spirit with a different purpose that is unique to those religions, as is seen below:

Hinduism

The Hinduism concept of Advaita is linked to Trinity and has been briefly explained by Raimon Panikkar, Professor of Comparative Religion and History of Religions, Department of Religious Studies of the University of California. He states that the Holy Spirit, as one of the Three Persons of the Trinity of "father, Logos and Holy Spirit", is a bridge builder between Christianity and Hinduism. He explains that “The meeting of spiritualistic can take place in the Spirit. No new 'system' has primarily to come of this encounter, but a new and yet old spirit must emerges." [40] Atman is Vedic terminology elaborated in Hindu scriptures such as Upanishads and Vedanta signifies the Ultimate Reality and Absolute. [41]

Buddhism

In Buddhism, Holy Spirit is compared to Buddha-nature as a Buddhist image or Christ consciousness, a oneness with an all encompassing plan. Hence, the Holy Spirit is considered the "means of which the faithful develop and journey to their spiritual goal." [42]

Sikhism

In Sikhism, the Guru is the medium and the Holy spirit is stated to have moved from Guru Nanak to the nine Sikh Gurus who followed him culminating with Guru Gobind Singh, the "tenth Guru Nanak". [43]

Zoroastrianism

In Zoroastrianism, the Holy Spirit, also known as Spenta Mainyu, is a hypostasis of Ahura Mazda, the supreme Creator God of Zoroastrianism; the Holy Spirit is seen as the source of all goodness in the universe, the spark of all life within humanity, and is the ultimate guide for humanity to righteousness and communion with God. The Holy Spirit is put in direct opposition to its eternal dual counterpart, Angra Mainyu, who is the source of all wickedness and who leads humanity astray. [44] [45]

See also

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References

  1. Levison, John R. (2002). The Spirit in First-Century Judaism. Boston: Brill. p. 65. ISBN   0-391-04131-2. Relevant Milieux : Israelite Literature : The expression, holy spirit, occurs in the Hebrew Bible only in Isa 63:10–11 and Ps 51:13. In Isaiah 63, the spirit acts within the corporate experience of Israel...
  2. Caner, Emir Fethi; Caner, Ergun Mehmet (2003). More Than a Prophet: An Insider's Response to Muslim Beliefs about Jesus and Christianity. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications. p. 43. ISBN   978-0-8254-9682-0. In Surah al-Nahl (16:102), the text is even more explicit: Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe and as a Guide and glad tidings to Muslims."
  3. Bultmann 2007, p. 153.
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  24. 1 2 Luke 3:22, NIV
  25. Acts 2:3, NIV
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Works cited