Theology

Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit is a term found in English translations of the Bible, but understood differently among the Abrahamic religions.[1][2]

While the general concept of a “Spirit” that permeates the cosmos is a general feature of most religions (e.g. Brahman in Hinduism and Tao in Taoism and Great Spirit among Indigenous peoples of the Americas), the term Holy Spirit specifically refers to the beliefs held in the Abrahamic religions.[3][4]

For the majority of Christians, the belief in the Holy Trinity implies the existence of three distinct Holy Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit being One Eternal Triune God. This doctrine and designation, however, are not shared by all Christian denominations, or the other Abrahamic religions.[5][6]

Christianity

For the majority of Christians, the Holy Spirit (prior English language usage: the Holy Ghost from Old English gast, “spirit”) is the third person of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and is Almighty God.[7][8][9] The Holy Spirit is seen by mainstream Christians as one Person of the Triune God, who revealed His Holy Name YHWH to his people Israel, sent His Eternally Begotten Son Jesus to save them from God’s wrath, and sent the Holy Spirit to sanctify and give life to his Church.[10][11][12] The Triune God manifests as three Persons (Greek hypostases),[13] in One Divine Being (Greek: Ousia),[14] called the Godhead,[15] the Divine Essence of God.[16]

Judaism

The term “holy spirit” only occurs three times in the Hebrew Bible. (Found once in Psalm 51:11 and twice in Isaiah 63:10,11) Although, the term “spirit” in the Hebrew Scriptures, in reference to “God’s spirit”, does occur more times. In Judaism, God is One, the idea of God as a duality or trinity among gentiles may be Shituf (or “not purely monotheistic”). The term Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is found frequently in Talmudic and Midrashic literature. In some cases it signifies prophetic inspiration, while in others it is used as a hypostatization or a metonym for God.[17] The Rabbinic “Holy Spirit,” has a certain degree of personification, but it remains, “a quality belonging to God, one of his attributes” and not, as in mainstream Christianity, representative of “any metaphysical divisions in the Godhead.”[18]

In Judaism, the references to The Spirit of God, Ruach HaKodesh, The Holy Spirit of YHWH, abound, however it has rejected any idea of The Eternal God as being either Dual or Triune. The term ruach ha-kodesh (Hebrew: רוח הקודש, “holy spirit” also transliterated ruah ha-qodesh) occurs once in Psalm 51:11 and also twice in the Book of Isaiah [19] Those are the only three times that the precise phrase “ruach hakodesh” is used in the Hebrew Scriptures, although the noun ruach (רוח, literally “breath” or “wind”) in various combinations, some referring to God’s “spirit”, is used often. The noun ruach, much like the English word breath, can mean either wind or some invisible moving force.[20]

However, Shekinah is derived from the Hebrew verb שכן. In Biblical Hebrew the word means literally to settle, inhabit, or dwell, which suggests the concept of a Holy Spirit, and is used frequently in the Hebrew Bible. (See Exodus 40:35, “Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, for the cloud rested [shakhan] upon it, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” See also e.g. Genesis 9:27, 14:13, Psalms 37:3, Jeremiah 33:16), as well as the weekly Shabbat blessing recited in the Temple in Jerusalem (“May He who causes His name to dwell [shochan] in this House, cause to dwell among you love and brotherliness, peace and friendship”).

Islam

In Islam, the Holy Spirit (Arabic: الروح القدس al-Ruh al-Qudus, “the-Spirit the-Holy”) is mentioned several times in the Qur’an, where it acts as an agent of divine action or communication. In Hadith it is commonly identified with the angel Gabriel (Arabic Jibreel). The Spirit (الروح al-Ruh, without the adjective “holy”) is also used as the creative spirit from God by which God enlivened Adam, and inspired the angels and the prophets. The belief in Trinity, as it is defined in the Qur’an, is explicitly forbidden by the Qur’an and called a grave sin. The same applies to any idea of the duality of God (Allah).[21][22] Though grammatical gender has no bearing on actual gender in non-personal nouns, the term holy spirit translates in and is used in the masculine form in all the Qur’an. In Arabic language the word “Holy Spirit” does not translate as سكينة Sakinah used in a feminine term. The term sakinah means state of relaxation.

Bahá’í Faith

The Bahá’í Faith has the concept of the Most Great Spirit, seen as the bounty of God.[23] It is usually used to describe the descent of the Spirit of God upon the messengers/prophets of God, which are known as Manifestations of God, and include among others Jesus, Muhammad and Bahá’u’lláh.[24] In Bahá’í believe 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.[25] 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.[26]

References

  1. ^ John R. Levison The Spirit in First-Century Judaism 2002 p65 “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. ^ Emir Fethi Caner, Ergun Mehmet Caner More than a prophet: an insider’s response to Muslim beliefs about Jesus and Christianity” 9780825424014 2003 p43 “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. ^ Hinduism and Buddhism, Vol III. (of 3) by Charles Eliot 2007 ISBN 1-4068-6297-5 page 182
  4. ^ Holy Spirit and Salvation: The Sources of Christian Theology by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen 2010 ISBN 0-664-23136-5 page 420
  5. ^ Systematic Theology by Lewis Sperry Chafer 1993 ISBN 0-8254-2340-6 page 25
  6. ^ The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: The Complete New Testament by Warren W. Wiersbe 2007 ISBN 978-0-7814-4539-9 page 471
  7. ^ Millard J. Erickson (1992). Introducing Christian Doctrine.. Baker Book House. p. 103.
  8. ^ T C Hammond; Revised and edited by David F Wright (1968). In Understanding be Men:A Handbook of Christian Doctrine. (sixth ed.). Inter-Varsity Press. pp. 54–56 and 128–131.
  9. ^ “Catholic Encyclopedia:Holy Spirit”.
  10. ^ “Catechism of the Catholic Church: GOD REVEALS HIS NAME”.
  11. ^ St. Thomas Aquinas (1920). The Summa Theologica: First Part – The Procession of the Divine Persons (second and revised edition (Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province) ed.).
  12. ^ Pope Pius XII (1943). Mystici Corporis Christi.
  13. ^ See discussion in  “Person“. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
  14. ^ Grudem, Wayne A. 1994. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. Page 226.
  15. ^ from Old English: Godhood
  16. ^ “Catechism of the Catholic Church: The Dogma of the Holy trinity”.
  17. ^ Alan Unterman and Rivka Horowitz,Ruah ha-Kodesh, Encyclopedia Judaica (CD-ROM Edition, Jerusalem: Judaica Multimedia/Keter, 1997).
  18. ^ Joseph Abelson,The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature (London:Macmillan and Co., 1912).
  19. ^ Isaiah 63:10,11
  20. ^ Article Jacobs J. Jewish Encyclopedia: Holy Spirit 1911
  21. ^ Griffith, Sidney H. Holy Spirit, Encyclopaedia of the Quran.
  22. ^ Patrick Hughes, Thomas Patrick Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p. 605.
  23. ^ `Abdu’l-Bahá (1981) [1904-06]. “The Holy Spirit”. Some Answered Questions. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. pp. 108–109. ISBN 0-87743-190-6.
  24. ^ Taherzadeh, Adib (1976). The Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, Volume 1: Baghdad 1853-63. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. p. 10. ISBN 0-85398-270-8.
  25. ^ Abdo, Lil (1994). “Female Representations of the Holy Spirit in Bahá’í and Christian writings and their implications for gender roles”. Bahá’í Studies Review 4 (1).
  26. ^ `Abdu’l-Bahá (1981) [1904-06]. “The Trinity”. Some Answered Questions. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust. pp. 113–115. ISBN 0-87743-190-6.

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