RE: (long) Re: Simeon's spirit

From: Stevens, Charles C (
Date: Mon Dec 01 1997 - 15:21:25 EST

I tend to agree with those who might find discussions of classical
trinitarian doctrines and the scriptural support for them off-topic for
this forum. That being said, I also agree with those who feel that
trinitarianism as we now know it is at the very earliest a postapostolic

But in any event -- and this is perhaps begging the theological question
-- the view of the Trinity that seems to work best for me is to go back
to the contemporary meaning of the word "persona" in Latin -- as I
understand it, the mask worn by an actor in a play.

And it is because I have seen little discussion of my particular view on
this subject that I feel it might be useful to mention it here and
suggest that further discussion *offline* might be fruitful for all

It strikes me that the term "persons" as it is now used in English does
not represent the intent of the coiners of the term "persons of the
Trinity" well at all. The concept that seems to me to present fewer
difficulties in understanding, to eliminate almost entirely the "magical
thinking" mysteriousness of classical Trinitarianism, and to avoid any
difficulties with the God of the Shema, is to think of the Father, the
Son and the Holy Spirit as *aspects* of God.

Note that this perspective is not based so much on Koine issues as it is
Latin ones, which is at least part of the reason that I (again) suggest
that the topic is better pursued offline.

    -Chuck Stevens [SMTP:]

> ----------
> From: Rolf Furuli[]
> Sent: Saturday, November 29, 1997 9:41 AM
> To:
> Cc:
> Subject: (long) Re: Simeon's spirit
> 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, taking 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 Pete«s 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.
> 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
> 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). 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.
> Regards
> Rolf
> Rolf Furuli
> University of Oslo

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