DO WE NEED A NEW PNEUMATOLOGY?

Do we need a new pneumatology today, a pneumatology capable of disclosing the ethical power God  promised to give to his people?

Obviously if so is the case then we have to both make a scrutiny of our Bible translations and of the exegetic positions behind them.

As a starting point for our discussion I want to focus on Paul’s use of  pneuma in ethical texts and especially pneuma  without  qualifications and  express the following question: Does Paul by his use of unqualified pneuma intend God’s spirit or the human spirit, even if the later category includes the human spirit renewed by the Spirit of God ?[1]

This question is caused by the way the new  Swedish Bible Translation  “Bibel 2 000” in a multitude of texts have expressed an anthropological  understanding of the Greek term pneuma without qualifications.  This occurs in a raw of pietic texts, not at least in Paul’s the ethical texts . This anthropologisation is expressed by using minuscles for the Swedish equivalence  for “spirit” namely “ande”. Of cause the Greek term pneuma doesn’t differentiate between majuscles or minuscules in the original Greek.  However, coming to the situation of translation, we have to make a choice![2]

According to its article “ande, andlig” in the index. The Swedish Bible Commission (SBC) indicates that they in several texts apprehend an anthropological undestanding av the Greek term  penuma  it intend to  the human spirit. More than that, in  some texts they even put a possessive pronoun to the Swedish equivalent for “spirit” and write “our spirit” ( vår ande) , “your spirit” (Er ande).

The anthropologization of the pneumatology appears already in  the principal declarations of the way in which they have translated  the term ruah in the OT. They regard the use of ruach in OT as a designation for the life power, that God gives to created beings, mainly man…The time of salvation will bring a renewal/ reinforcement of the spirit[3].

If the human spirit is understood as the ethical source of power for a righteous life, than we are facing a lot of  problems concerning the possibility to demand that which according to Paul is impossible for human flesh; live a righteous and clean life.

How in fact a new pneumatology is emerging among scholars today, a pneumatology that recognizes the identity of the Holy Spirit behind these texts will be my great joy to present.

Already now I recommend a reading of my article: “Is the Spirit stronger than the flesh” here on a page with the same title.


[1] The idea of a human spirit renewed by God’s spirit is exposed in the article ”ande, andlig” in ”Beiln Nya Testamentet” Bibelkommissionens utgåva 1981, SOU  (1981:56.) 679 and is further developed by one of its exegetical experts Harald Riesenfeld in ”Om Anden i NT-81”. SPT 24 (1982)491-2, ”Exegetisk analys av begreppet  ’ande’ i Gal 5.och 6. Kyrkpressen 14.1(1988) 93, and in the article: ”Kristi andes helighet, Rom 1:4” SEÅ 50 (1985) 105-15.

[2] Concerning the problems to translate the terms ruach and pneuma see Ernest Best ,”The Use And Non-Use Of Pneuma  By Josephus.” Novum Testamentum 3-4. (1959-60) 218ff.Ernest Best ,”The Use And Non-Use Of Pneuma  By Josephus.” Novum Testamentum 3-4. (1959-60) 218ff.

[3] ” Med  ”ande” betecknas i GT den  livskraft som Gud ger åt skapade varelser, främst åt människan….Frälsningstiden ska medföra en förnyelse/ förstärkning av anden” ”ande, andlig” i Bibel, Nya testamentet. Bibelkommissionens utgåva 1981.SOU 1981:56 s. 679. Motsvarande artikel i  SOU 2 000:100 sid 3096 ger större utrymme för gudsandens roll i GT.

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