Re: Holy Spirit and "it"

Graeme Codrington (
Sun, 26 May 1996 23:00:17 -0200

Al Collver wrote:
> While it is certainly true that to pneuma and auto are neuter, to
> translate
> the pronoun as "it" depersonalizes the Holy Spirit. Grammatically,
> the words are neuter. In Greek there are nouns that have a masculine
> understanding but are feminine in form. These words would be
> translated masculine even though the pronouns are feminine. So it
> is with pneuma and auto. While they are grammatically neuter they
> refer to the third person of the Trinity and thus should be
> translated "he." A person is not an it.

While I personally believe the Holy Spirit to be personal being, it
is a dangerous approach to translation when we begin to put our
perosnal theologies before Scripture.

It is true that in Greek there are some interesting (to say the
least) uses of gender, such as feminine forms for masculine concepts.
However, where Greek has the option of _either_ neuter _or_
male/female, surely we have to respect the choice made by the author
(assuming we accept the neuter article to be an agreed text)?

Where there is no option given in Greek, then we can debate English
equivalents. In the case of the neuter pronoun for the Holy Spirit,
however, could the writer have worked the sentence differently to
use a specifically masculine (or, as in some cases, feminine)
construct? I pose this as a question.

In either case, I would be hesitant to let my theologiy rule my
interpretation, where the use of an English neuter form "it" would be
more accurate.

Graeme C

Courage is fear that has said its prayers.