RE: Simeon's spirit

From: Rolf Furuli (
Date: Fri Nov 28 1997 - 09:37:09 EST

Peter Philips wrote:

<Last night I went to an informal communion service here in College. I was
<following the reading in my GNT and was a little startled at the
<translation of what I saw before me. Luke 25b says, KAI PNEUMA HN 'AGION
<EP AUTWI. The translation was "the Holy Spirit was upon him".

<Doesn't the Greek actually suggest - "the spirit on him was a holy one" -
<i.e. he was a holy man rather than a reference to the Holy Spirit. It
<would seem that the alternative would be that he was demonised - i.e. the
<spirit on him was an unholy (KAKON?) one.

<Any Luke experts fancy informing me on this?

Dear Pete,

I am not an expert on Luke, but I have some comments. F.L. Godet, Repr.
1971 "Commentary on Luke" says: "The separation of PNEUMA from hAGION by
the verb HN in the greater part of the MSS. gives prominence to the idea of
the adjective. An influence rested upon him, and this influence was holy."
I.H. Marshall, 1978 "The Gospel of Luke" agrees about the emphatic nature
of the construction.

Not only is the position of the verb interesting in your example but also
the lack of article. This evidently led Godet to speak of "an influence"
rather than "a person". Thomas.F. Middleton wrote in 1833 a monograph on
the Greek article ("The Doctrine of the Greek article Applied to the
Criticism and Illustration of the Greek New Testament"). On p 126 he
concluded that it is impossible that "God The Holy Spirit" is referred to
without the article being used, so PNEUMA hAGION "in cases without the
article being not here the Person of the Holy Spirit, but his influence or
operation." Some of the examples with the article also signified the same,
according to him, because they were anaphoric.

Some time ago I made a study on the use of the definite article with PNEUMA
hAGION. I found 36 instances of the words together with the article and 44
instances without. Looking at the articular occurrences I found that most,
or all of them CAN be anaphoric, thus upholding the indefinite nature which
PNEUMA hAGION have in the majority of the occurrences. In three NT books
Luke (1:15), Titus (3:5) and Hebrews (2:4) the first occurrence of the
words neither is preceded by an article nor by a preposition; so all the
other references in these books may be anaphoric. In eleven books, Matthew
(1:18), Mark (1:8);John (1:33); Acts (1:2), Romans (5:5), 2 Corinthians
(6:6), 1 Thessalonians (1:5), 2 Timothy (1:14), 1 Peter (1:12), 2 Peter
(1:21) and Jude (1:20), the first occurrence is anarthrous but it is
preceded by a preposition, which may or may not indicate definiteness. In
two books, 1 Corinthians (6:19) and Ephesians (1:13) the first occurrence
is articular. 1 Cor 6:19 may itself be anaphoric because PNEUMA is
mentioned alone in 2:4 and TOU PNEUMATOS TOU QEOU is mentioned in 2:14. In
Eph 1:13 the article may be required because of the complex construction in
which PNEUMA hAGION occur.

In the book of Luke, 1:15,35,41,67; 2:25; 4:1; 11:13 are anarthrous and
without preposition, 3:16 is anarthrous with preposition and 2:26; 3:22 and
10:21 are articular.


Rolf Furuli
University of Oslo


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