Re: (long) Re: Simeon's spirit

From: Thomas Kopecek (
Date: Sat Nov 29 1997 - 08:11:54 EST

Rolf Furuli wrote:
> Thomas A. Kopecek wrote:
> <Rolf: What was your conclusion regarding Acts 2:33 within its larger
> <context in the first couple of chapters of Acts? If this is the first
> <sermon in the history of Christianity, then Peter's "trinity" appears to
> <be the one God, a man of Davidic descent who has been resurrected by God
> <"to be made both Lord And Messiah," and perhaps God's force or Spirit
> <which the resurrected Jesus "pours out" on the Jerusalem church. If that
> <is the case, then Luke means that "made" not be taken in the sense of
> <"made for the first time," as perhaps Paul, using the second Psalm and
> <the title Son, intended for Jesus' resurrection (cf. the first few
> <verses of Romans for a similar claim, taken over surely from a source
> <prior to Paul).
> Dear Tom,
> I will comment on the "trinity" of Acts 2:33 from the point of view of
> translation, which also was the setting of Pete4s original question, on
> which he still waits for a satisfactory answer. My target group: Bible
> students who want to come as close to the original text as possible. My
> intention: to help the readers to be able to decide for themselves the
> relationship between Father, Son and Spirit.
> There are three ways to translate anarthrous PNEUMA hAGION (P h.):
> (1) "The Holy Spirit" (Capitals and article added)
> (2) "the holy spirit" (article added)
> (3) "holy spirit"
> The biblical witness regarding the nature of P h. is indeed meagre. P h.
> was only mentioned casually at Nicaea in 325 and NOT as "God The Holy
> Spirit". In 380 Gregory Nazianzus wrote about the different views of the
> Spirit: "But of the wise men amongst ourselves, some have conceived of him
> as an Activity, some as a Creature, some as God; and some have been
> uncertain which to call Him." At the council at Constantiopel in 381 a
> compromise was reached regarding P h. but still P h. was not declared to be
> fully God, as P h. is in the Athanasianian creed from the sixth century.

This is accurate; I did my doctoral dissertation on the Cappadocian
Fathers back in the 1960's and since then have worked a bit on this
particular issue: Basil was more reticent--perhaps for reasons of
ecclesiastical politics--than Gregory Nazianzen to call the Holy Spirit
God pur sang.

> There is some evidence in the NT which can show that P h. is a person and
> is divine, perhaps the strongest being the formula in Matt 28:19 TO ONOMA

Here there is the problem of whether these words were in the original
ms. Mt 28:19 is a favorite text of Eusebius of Caesarea, and he quotes
it in three different forms:

1. "Go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them to observe
all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (nine times: Demonstratio
evagelica 1:3, 1:4, 1:6, In psalmos 46.4, 95.3, 144.9, In Isaiam 41.10,
Theoph. 3-4; De ecclesiasticae theologia 3.3)

No F, S, and HS and no baptism.
2. "Go and make disciples of all the nations in my Name, teaching them
to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (seventeen
times, three of which are duplicates: Dem. ev. 3.6, 3:7, 9:11, In ps.
59.9, 65.5, 67.34, 76.20, In Is. 18.2, 34.16, Laus Constantini 16.8,
Theoph. 4.16, 5.17, 46, 49)

3.The way printed in our NTs: only five times, and only after Nicaea;
the other forms are preferred by Eusebius even after Nicaea.

A fine recent discussion of the problem is by H. Benedict Green,
"Matthew 28:19, Eusebius, and the lex orandi," in Rowan Williams, ed.,
1989): 124ff. I reproduce his conclusion:

"...I propose the following scenario: (1) the innovation, made around AD
140-150, was the introduction of the triple immersion with threefold
profession of faith at baptism; (2) the meddiate precipitating cause of
it was the impact of Marcion (Justin's Trinitarian language here and
elsewhere in the Apology has an anti-Marcionite ring); (3) the structure
of the enlarged profession of faith, Trinitarian and not Binitarian, was
modelled on the triad of Matthew 28:19, which was already associated
with baptism and now circulating as part of the gospel. That it was the
gospel in this slightly enlarged form that was received in the Canon of
the NT is not here contested. But if the foregoing arguments have any
force, it was not the mind of the evangelist but the praxis of unknown
Christians after him (or maybe contemporary with him), inspired by
gospel tradition, that produced the half-verse which contributed so
signally to the genesis of credal forms in the post-apostolic church."
Ibid. 137.

 and the role as
> PARAKLHTOS in John 14-16. This evidence is in no way conclusive and is also
> compatible with the view that P h. is non-personal.


 This last view has a
> much stronger backing in the NT. Compare for instance Luke 24:49 RSV
> "clothed with power from on high", Acts 1:8 "receive power when the Holy
> Spirit has come upon you" and Acts 2:17 EKCEW APO TOU PNEUMATOS MOU. To
> pour out a part of something suggests a substance which is a liquid or
> something similar. I am not familiar with pouring out parts of persons.
> To describe P h. as a mere force may however be misleading. The forces in
> the world are all functions of the four fundamental forces: the strong and
> weak force of the atom, gravity and electro-magnetism - and they are blind!
> Yet P h. conveys God`s personality and warmth, so P h. is unique and cannot
> be compared with anything in this world. The word "force" is perhaps the
> best we have, but in no way is it adequate. This is how I see it, but I
> have no right to force this view upon the reader through my translation of
> the Bible. So how should the passages with P h. be translated if one really
> has the interests of the readers in mind (given my target group)?
> If we translate all occurrences of P h. both the articular and anarthrous
> ones with "The (or the) Holy Spirit", which is the usual way, we give the
> readers no chance to make up their own minds, but the dogma of "God The
> Holy Spirit" is forced upon them. If we on the other hand use the
> renditions "the holy spirit" and "holy spirit", supplied with footnotes and
> an appendix explaining the different possibilities, we really serve the
> readers. Along the same lines I would perhaps give this wooden translation
> of Luke 2:25: "and spirit, holy was upon him", and then have a footnote.
> Supplying a relative pronoun would give a better language, but then I would
> by my choice (either which or who) prevent the reader from choosing. Carl`s
> comments, which are logical and possible, and Martin`s references to
> similar constructions could be used as a basis for a footnote/appendix and
> they could also justify the translation "and holy spirit was upon him."
> Regarding Acts 2:33 I agree with your "economic trinity" stressing the one
> God of the jewish "Shema". The "man of Davidic descent" was the one who was
> born because P h. came upon Mary (Luke 1:35). The aorist of POIEW in Acts
> 2:33 probably has past reference. God made Jesus the Messiah by anointing
> him with P.h., which occurred at his baptism, and he made him Lord at his
> resurrection when he, by an act of grace (CARIZOMAI) gave him the name
> above every name (Phil 2:9).

Surely you are right for the evangelist, but if the sermon in Acts 2
really goes back to Peter, as I think it does (in some form), then
probably Peter meant about what Paul did in Acts 13, that is, Jesus'
resurrection was the crucial Christological "moment", to use a term
which Raymond Brown employs for both sections of Acts.

 In Rom 1:4 Paul applies, as you say, the title
> "Son" from the second Psalm to his resurrection, but Jesus may also be
> viewed as a "Son" of God from his birth and as an anointed "Son" from his
> baptism. In any case do we find nothing of the orthodox trinitarianism in
> the first chapters of Acts.

I've found your analyses helpful and plausible. Thanks.


Thomas A. Kopecek
Religion and History
Central College
Pella, IA 50219

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.4 : Sat Apr 20 2002 - 15:38:36 EDT