Re: Holy Spirit and indications of grammar

From: Trevor M Peterson (
Date: Sun Sep 20 1998 - 07:38:38 EDT

On Sat, 19 Sep 1998 22:02:31 -0700 clayton stirling bartholomew
<> writes:

>Without a doubt, I have overstated the case here for the sake of
>clarity and
>someone will want to reply with at "yea but . . ."

Do you mean "yea" or "yeah"? Maybe it's unique to the Pacific Northwest,
but I've never met anyone who still uses "yea" in normal conversation.

Anyway, here's my two cents:


>The fact
>that PNEUMA is a neuter noun does not tell us anything about the range
>meaning of the word or the possibility or impossibility of PNEUMA
>referring to
>a person.

Good point. But where I think the grammatical argument usually ends up
going is to the actual usage in certain NT passages. Yes, PNEUMA is
neuter, but that would actually help us confirm personality if it is used
with masculine pronouns for instance. (Or would it? Are there any other
examples of Greek usage where pronoun gender was altered from strict
grammatical correspondence to make a point about real gender or
personality?) John 16:13-14, John 15:26, and Eph 1:13-14 (MajT) come to
mind as possible instances where this happened. Now, I know we're not in
agreement on this list regarding textual criticism, so I'll leave Eph
1:13-14 aside unless someone else wants to discuss it. But in John
16:13-14 TO PNEUMA THS ALHQEIAS is refered to as EKEINOS and hEAUTOU.
Admittedly, I wonder myself if the PARAKLHTOS of vv. 7-8 may not be in
the background as the real antecedent, but it does seem like a long
distance for it to overcome the more immediate PNEUMA. In John 15:26,
the possibility for assimilation is much greater IMO, where EKEINOS
probably refers grammatically to hO PARAKLHTOS. Acts 13:2 uses MOI with
reference to TO PNEUMA TO hAGION, which is probably the strongest
possible instance of a pronoun indicating personality, but in this case
the bigger issue is the personal function of the Holy Spirit speaking at

Anyway, as I've heard it, that's the basic point made about grammar and
the personality of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the word is neuter in Greek,
but are there cases where the biblical writers part from normal
grammatical agreement to indicate personality? I tend to give a highly
qualified yes, but I'm sure there are other opinions.

Trevor Peterson
Bible/Theology Department
Washington Bible College
Lanham, MD

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