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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove above the Holy Family, painting by Juan Simon Gutierrez

In Christianity, the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) is the Spirit of God. In mainstream (Trinitarian) Christian beliefs he is the third person of the Trinity. As part of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit is equal with God the Father and with God the Son.

The Christian theology of the Holy Spirit was the last piece of Trinitarian theology to be fully developed. There is also greater diversity in Christian theology of the Spirit (pneumatology) than there is in the theology of the Son (Christology) or of the Father.


Christian doctrine

Within mainstream Christianity the Holy Spirit is one of the three persons of the Trinity. As such he is personal and also fully God, co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and Son of God.[1][2][3] He is different from the Father and the Son in that he proceeds from the Father (or from the Father and the Son) as described in the Nicene Creed.[2] His sacredness is reflected in the New Testament gospels[4][5][6] which proclaim blasphemy against the Holy Spirit as unforgivable.

The Holy Spirit is believed to perform specific divine functions in the life of the Christian or the church. These include:

  • Conviction of sin. The Holy Spirit acts to convince the unredeemed person both of the sinfulness of their actions, and of their moral standing as sinners before God.[7]
  • Bringing to conversion. The action of the Holy Spirit is seen as an essential part of the bringing of the person to the Christian faith.[8] The new believer is "born again of the Spirit".[9]
  • Enabling the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is believed to dwell in the individual believers and enable them to live a righteous and faithful life.[8]
  • As a comforter or Paraclete, one who intercedes, or supports or acts as an advocate, particularly in times of trial.
  • Inspiration and interpretation of scripture. The Holy Spirit both inspires the writing of the scriptures and interprets them to the Christian and/or church.[10]

The Holy Spirit is also believed to be active especially in the life of Jesus Christ, enabling him to fulfil his work on earth. Particular actions of the Holy Spirit include:

  • Cause of his birth. According to the gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus, the "beginning of His incarnate existence", was due to the Holy Spirit.[11][12]
  • Anointing him at his baptism.[8]
  • Empowerment of his ministry. The ministry of Jesus following his baptism (in which the Holy Spirit is described in the gospels as "descending on Him like a dove") is conducted in the power and at the direction of the Holy Spirit.[8]

Symbols of the Holy Spirit

Depiction of the Holy Spirit dove (ceiling fresco in St. Charles's Church, Vienna, 1700's)

The Holy Spirit is frequently referred to by metaphor and symbol, both doctrinally and biblically. Theologically speaking these symbols are a key to understanding of the Holy Spirit and his actions, and are not mere artistic representations.[3][13]

  • Water - signifies the Holy Spirit's action in Baptism, such that in the manner that "by one Spirit [believers] were all baptized", so they are "made to drink of one Spirit".[14] Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified[15][16] as its source and welling up in Christians to eternal life.[13][17]
  • Anointing - The symbolism of anointing with oil also signifies the Holy Spirit, to the point of becoming a synonym for the Holy Spirit. The coming of the Spirit is referred to as his "anointing".[18][19] [20] In some denominations anointing is practiced in Confirmation; ("chrismation" in the Eastern Churches). Its full force can be grasped only in relation to the primary anointing accomplished by the Holy Spirit, that of Jesus. Christ (in Hebrew, messiah) means the one "anointed" by God's Spirit.[13][17]
  • Fire - symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy Spirit's actions. In the form of tongues "as of fire", the Holy Spirit rested on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost.[13][17]
  • Cloud and light - The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and "overshadows" her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus. On the mountain of transfiguration, the Spirit in the "cloud came and overshadowed" Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and "a voice came out of the cloud, saying, 'This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!'"[17][21]
  • The dove. When Christ comes up from the water of his baptism, the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes down upon him and remains with him.[13][17][22]
  • Wind The Spirit is likened to the "wind that blows where it will" (John 3:8), and described as "a sound from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind" (Acts 2:2-4).[13]

Variations in Doctrine



According to Roman Catholic theology the primary work of the Holy Spirit is through the church. According to the Catechism: "The mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit is brought to completion in the Church, which is the Body of Christ and the Temple of the Holy Spirit. [...] Through the Church's sacraments, Christ communicates his Holy and sanctifying Spirit to the members of his Body."

Around the sixth century, the word Filioque was added to the Nicene Creed, defining as a doctrinal teaching that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father and the Son." While the Eastern Catholic churches are required to believe the doctrinal teaching contained in the Filioque, they are not all required to insert it in the Creed when it is recited during services.

Eastern Orthodoxy

Eastern Orthodoxy proclaims that the Father is the eternal source of the Godhead, from whom the Son is begotten eternally, and also from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds eternally. Note that unlike the Roman Catholic Church and Western Christianity in general, the Orthodox Church does not espouse the use of the Filioque ("and the Son") in describing the procession of the Holy Spirit. Filioque was mentioned for the first time at the Third Council of Toledo in 589 and it was added by the Roman Catholic church to the Credo in the 11th century. The Holy Spirit is believed to eternally proceed from the Father, as Christ says in the Gospel of John 15:26, and not from the Father and the Son, as the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches claim. Orthodox doctrine regarding the Holy Trinity is summarized in the Symbol of Faith (Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed). Oriental Orthodox usage coincides with Eastern Orthodox usage and teachings on the matter. The Assyrian Church of the East also retains the original formula of the Creed without the Filioque.


The majority of mainstream Protestantism hold similar views on the theology of the Holy Spirit as the Roman Catholic Church, as described above.[1][23] The chief difference is the belief that the Holy Spirit interacts with the individual Christian instead of, or as well as, through the organization of the church.[23] There are significant variations in belief within the Protestant movement, especially between Pentecostalism and the rest of Protestantism.

Restoration Movement and Churches of Christ

During the late 19th century, the prevailing view in the Restoration Movement was that the Holy Spirit currently acts only through the influence of inspired scripture.[24] This rationalist view was associated with Alexander Campbell, who was "greatly affected by what he viewed as the excesses of the emotional camp meetings and revivals of his day."[24] He believed that the Spirit draws people towards salvation, but understood the Spirit to do this "in the same way any person moves another—by persuasion with words and ideas." This view came to prevail over that of Barton W. Stone, who believed the Spirit had a more direct role in the life of the Christian.[24] Since the early 20th century, many among the Churches of Christ have moved away from this "word-only" theory of the operation of the Holy Spirit.[25] As one student of the movement puts it, "[f]or better or worse, those who champion the so-called word-only theory no longer have a hold on the minds of the constituency of Churches of Christ. Though relatively few have adopted outright charismatic and third wave views and remained in the body, apparently the spiritual waves have begun to erode that rational rock."[24]


The Holy Spirit descending at Pentecost by Anthony van Dyck, circa 1618.

While the Holy Spirit is acknowledged as God in all mainstream denominations, he is given particular emphasis in Pentecostal churches. In those churches he is seen as the giver of natural and supernatural gifts, such as tongues and prophecy, to modern-day Christians.

The Christian movement called Pentecostalism derives its name from the event of Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit when Jesus' disciples were gathered in Jerusalem (see Acts 2). Pentecostals believe that when a believer is "baptized in the Holy Spirit", the gifts of the Spirit (also called the charismata) are activated in the recipient to edify the body of Christ, the church. Some of these gifts are listed in 1 Corinthians 12.

The Pentecostal movement places special emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, and especially on the gifts mentioned above, believing that they are still given today. Much of Pentecostalism differentiates the "baptism with the Holy Spirit" from the salvific born again experience, considering it a usually distinct experience in which the Spirit's power is received by the Christian in a new way, with the belief that the Christian can be more readily used to perform signs, miracles, and wonders for the sake of evangelism or for ministry within the church (the body of christ) and the community. There are also some Pentecostals who believe that Spirit baptism is a necessary element in salvation, not a "second blessing". These Pentecostals believe that in the baptism in the Holy Spirit, the power of the Spirit is released in their lives.

Many Pentecostals believe that the normative initial evidence of this infilling (baptism) of the Holy Spirit is the ability to speak in other tongues (glossolalia), and that tongues are one of several spiritual manifestations of the presence of the Holy Spirit in an individual believer's life.

Non-Trinitarian views

Non-trinitarian views about the Holy Spirit generally fall into one of two categories. Some groups believe that the Holy Spirit is a separate being from God the Father and God the Son, and is 'one' with them in some other sense than of being one substance; Latter Day Saint beliefs fall within this category. Others believe that the Holy Spirit refers to some aspect or action of God (i.e., Modalism); Jehovah's Witness, Christadelphian, Unity Church, and Oneness Pentecostalism beliefs fall within this category.

Latter Day Saints

In the Latter-day Saint movement, the Holy Ghost (usually synonymous with Holy Spirit.)[26] is considered the third distinct member of the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Ghost). The Holy Ghost is considered to be a son of God the Father,[27] and to have a body of "spirit,"[28] which makes him unlike the Father and the Son who are said to have bodies "as tangible as man's."D&C 130:22.</ref>

Jehovah's Witnesses

Jehovah's Witnesses believe that the Holy Spirit is God's active force, and do not typically capitalize the term.[29] A Jehovah's Witness brochure quotes Alvan Lamson: "...the Father, Son, and... Holy Spirit [are] not as co-equal, not as one numerical essence, not as Three in One... The very reverse is the fact."[30]


Christadelphians believe that the phrase Holy Spirit refers to God's character or mind, depending on the context.[31]

Unity Church

The Unity Church interprets the religious terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit metaphysically, as three aspects of mind action: mind, idea, and expression. They believe this is the process through which all manifestation takes place.[32]

Oneness Pentecostalism

Oneness Pentecostalism, and with other modalist groups, teach that the Holy Spirit is a mode of God, rather than a distinct individual, and that there is no distinction between God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Fruit of the Spirit

Christians believe the "Fruit of the Spirit" consists of virtuous characteristics engendered in the Christian by the action of the Holy Spirit. They are those listed in Galatians 5:22-23: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."[33] The Roman Catholic Church adds to this list generosity, modesty, and chastity.[34]

Gifts of the Spirit

Christians believe that the Holy Spirit gives 'gifts' to Christians. These gifts consist of specific abilities granted to the individual Christian.[8] They are frequently known by the Greek word for gift, Charisma, from which the term charismatic derives. The New Testament provides three different lists of such gifts which range from the supernatural (healing, prophecy, tongues) through those associated with specific callings (teaching) to those expected of all Christians in some degree (faith). Most consider these lists not to be exhaustive, and other have compiled their own lists. Saint Ambrose wrote of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit poured out on a believer at baptism: 1. Spirit of Wisdom; 2. Spirit of Understanding; 3. Spirit of Counsel; 4. Spirit of Strength; 5. Spirit of Knowledge; 6. Spirit of Godliness; 7. Spirit of Holy Fear.[35]

It is over the nature and occurrence of these gifts, particularly the supernatural gifts (sometimes called charismatic gifts), that the greatest disagreement between Christians with regard to the Holy Spirit exists.

One view is that the supernatural gifts were a special dispensation for the apostolic ages, bestowed because of the unique conditions of the church at that time, and are extremely rarely bestowed in the present time.[36] This is the view of the Catholic Church[3] and many other mainstream Christian groups. The alternate view, espoused mainly by Pentecostal denominations and the charismatic movement, is that the absence of the supernatural gifts was due to the neglect of the Holy Spirit and his work by the church. Although some small groups, such as the Montanists, practiced the supernatural gifts they were rare until the growth of the Pentecostal movement in the late nineteenth century.[36]

Believers in the relevance of the supernatural gifts sometimes speak of a Baptism of the Holy Spirit or Filling of the Holy Spirit which the Christian needs to experience in order to receive those gifts. Many churches hold that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is identical with conversion, and that all Christians are by definition baptized in the Holy Spirit.[36]

Depiction in art

See also: God the Father in Western art

The Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove, based on the account of the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove when he was baptized in the Jordan. In many paintings of the Annunciation, the Holy Spirit is shown in the form of a dove, coming down towards Mary on beams of light, as the Archangel Gabriel announces Christ's coming to Mary.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit in a 15th century illuminated manuscript. Musée Condé, Chantilly.
Stained glass in the Cathedral of St. Mary and St. John (Episcopal), Quezon City, Philippines
Scene by Filippo Lippi, 1459
Both Hands of God (relatively unusual) and the Holy Spirit as a dove in Baptism of Christ, by Verrocchio, 1472.

A dove may also be seen at the ear of Saint Gregory the Great - as recorded by his secretary - or other church father authors, dictating their works to them.

The dove also parallels the one that brought the olive branch to Noah after the deluge (also a symbol of peace), and rabbinic traditions that doves above the water signify the presence of God.

The book of Acts describes the Holy Spirit descending on the apostles at Pentecost in the form of a wind and tongues of fire resting over the apostles' heads. Based on the imagery in that account, the Holy Spirit is sometimes symbolized by a flame of fire.

"Holy Spirit" or "Holy Ghost"

The meaning of Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost are identical. Holy Ghost was the common name for the Holy Spirit in English prior to the 20th century. It is the name used in the Book of Common Prayer, the Catholic Douay Rheims Bible and the King James Version (KJV), and is still widely used by English speakers whose religious vocabulary is largely derived from the KJV. The term is still retained in the traditional-language rites of the Anglican Church. The original meaning of the English word ghost closely paralleled the words spirit or soul; only later did the former word come to acquire the specific sense of "disembodied spirit of the dead" and the associated pejorative connotations.[37]

In 1901 the American Standard Version of the Bible translated the name as Holy Spirit, as had the English Revised Version of 1881-1885 upon which it was based. Almost all modern English translations have followed suit.

"Pneuma" is the Greek word for spirit and is found 385 times in the New Testament. It is used in the general sense of spirit as well as the Holy Spirit, and can also mean wind or breath.

Gender of the Holy Spirit

There are some Christian groups who teach that the Holy Spirit is feminine, or has feminine aspects. Most are based on the genders of the verbs in the original Bible languages where the Holy Spirit is the subject. In Hebrew the word for spirit (ruach) is feminine.[38] In Greek the word (pneuma) is neuter,[38] and in Aramaic, the language which is generally considered to have been spoken by Jesus, the word is feminine. This is not thought by most linguists to have significance for the gender of the person given that name. There are biblical cases where the pronoun used for the Holy Spirit is masculine, in contradiction of the gender of the word for spirit (John 16:13).[38]

The Syriac language, which was in common use around 300AD, is derived from Aramaic. In documents produced in Syriac by the early Miaphysite church (which later became the Syrian Orthodox Church) the feminine gender of the word for spirit gave rise to a theology in which the Holy Spirit was considered feminine.[39]

In 1977 a leader of the Branch Davidian church, Lois Roden, began to formally teach that the feminine Holy Spirit is the heavenly pattern of women, citing scholars and researchers from Jewish, Christian, and other sources.[citation needed]

There are some other independent Messianic Judaism groups with similar teachings,[40] and some scholars associated with more "mainstream" denominations, while not necessarily indicative of the denominations themselves, have written works explaining a feminine understanding of the third member of the Godhead.[41][42][43][44]

The Unity Church's co-founder Charles Fillmore considered the Holy Spirit a distinctly feminine aspect of God considering it to be "the love of Jehovah" and "love is always feminine".[45]

Non-Christian views

Bahá'í Faith

The Bahá'í Faith has the concept of the Most Great Spirit, seen as the bounty of God.[46] It is usually used to describe the descent of the Spirit of God upon the messengers/prophets of God, which are known as Manifestations of God, and include among others Jesus, Muhammad and Bahá'u'lláh.[47] In Bahá'í belief the Holy Spirit is the conduit through which the wisdom of God becomes directly associated with his messenger, and it has been described variously in different religions such as the burning bush to Moses, the sacred fire to Zoroaster, the dove to Jesus, the angel Gabriel to Muhammad, and the Holy Maiden to Bahá'u'lláh.[48] The Bahá'í view rejects the idea that the Holy Spirit is a partner to God in the Godhead, but rather is a pure reflection of God's attributes.[49]


Holy Spirit in Islam is an agent of divine action or communication commonly identified with the angel Gabriel (ar: Jibreel) or Ruhul Qudus (Ruach HaKodesh in hebrew) but also alternatively with the created spirit from God by which he enlivened Adam, and inspired the angels and the prophets. The belief in Trinity is explicitly forbidden by the Qur'an and called a grave sin. The same applies to any idea of the duality of God (Allah).[50][51]


In Judaism, the idea of God as a duality or trinity is heretical.[citation needed] Nonetheless, the term Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is found frequently in Talmudic and Midrashic literature. In some cases it signifies prophetic inspiration, while in others it is used as a hypostatization or a metonym for God.[52] The Rabbinic “Holy Spirit,” has a certain degree of personification, but it remains, “a quality belonging to God, one of his attributes” and not, as in Christianity, representative of “any metaphysical divisions in the Godhead.”[53]

See also shekhinah.


As a movement that developed out of Christianity, Rastafari has its own unique interpretation of both the Holy Trinity and the Holy Spirit. Although there are several slight variations, they generally state that it is Haile Selassie who embodies both God the Father and God the Son, while the Holy (or rather, "Hola") Spirit is to be found within Rasta believers (see 'I and I'), and within every human being. Rastas also say that the true church is the human body, and that it is this church (or "structure") that contains the Holy Spirit.

See also


  1. ^ a b Millard J. Erickson (1992). Introducing Christian Doctrine.. Baker Book House. p. 103. 
  2. ^ a b T C Hammond; Revised and edited by David F Wright (1968). In Understanding be Men:A Handbook of Christian Doctrine. (sixth ed.). Inter-Varsity Press. pp. 54–56 and 128–131. 
  3. ^ a b c "Catholic Encyclopedia:Holy Spirit". http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07409a.htm. 
  4. ^ Mark 3:28-30
  5. ^ Matthew 12:30-32
  6. ^ Luke 12:8-10
  7. ^ The Holy Spirit and His Gifts. J. Oswald Sanders. Inter-Varsity Press. chapter 5.
  8. ^ a b c d e Millard J. Erickson (1992). Introducing Christian Doctrine.. Baker Book House. pp. 265–270. 
  9. ^ Though the term "born again" is most frequently used by evangelical Christians, most denominations do consider that the new Christian is a "new creation" and "born again". See for example the Catholic Encyclopedia [1]
  10. ^ T C Hammond; Revised and edited by David F Wright (1968). In Understanding be Men:A Handbook of Christian Doctrine. (sixth ed.). Inter-Varsity Press. p. 134. 
  11. ^ Millard J. Erickson (1992). Introducing Christian Doctrine.. Baker Book House. pp. 267–268. 
  12. ^ Karl Barth (1949). Dogmatics in Outline. New York Philosophical Library. p. 95. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f David Watson (1973). One in the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 20–25. 
  14. ^ 1 Corinthians 12:13
  15. ^ John 19:34
  16. ^ 1 John 5:8
  17. ^ a b c d e Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  18. ^ {{{3}}}
  19. ^ 2 Corinthians 1:21
  20. ^ Luke 9:34-35
  21. ^ Matthew 3:16
  22. ^ a b David Watson (1973). One in the Spirit. Hodder and Stoughton. pp. 39–64. 
  23. ^ a b c d Douglas A. Foster, "Waves of the Spirit Against a Rational Rock: The Impact of the Pentecosat, Charismatic and Third Wave Movements on American Churches of Christ," Restoration Quarterly, 45:1, 2003)
  24. ^ See for example, Harvey Floyd, Is the Holy Spirit for me?: A search for the meaning of the Spirit in today's church, 20th Century Christian, 1981, ISBN 978-0-89098-446-8, 128 pages
  25. ^ Wilson, Jerry A. (1992). "Holy Spirit". in Ludlow, Daniel H.. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Mcmillan. p. 651. ISBN 0-02-904040-X. http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/u?/EoM,3768.  "The Holy Spirit is a term often used to refer to the Holy Ghost. In such cases the Holy Spirit is a personage."
  26. ^ McConkie, Joseph Fielding (1992). "Holy Ghost". in Ludlow, Daniel H.. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Mcmillan. p. 649. ISBN 0-02-904040-X. http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/u?/EoM,3766.  "[T]he Holy Ghost is a spirit man, a spirit son of God the Father."
  27. ^ D&C 131:7-8 ("There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.")
  28. ^ "Is the Holy Spirit a Person?". Awake!: 14–15. July 2006. http://www.watchtower.org/e/200607a/article_01.htm. "In the Bible, God’s Holy Spirit is identified as God’s power in action. Hence, an accurate translation of the Bible’s Hebrew text refers to God’s spirit as “God’s active force.”". 
  29. ^ "Is It Clearly a Bible Teaching?", Should You Believe in the Trinity?, ©1989 Watch Tower, p. 7, Reproduced here.
  30. ^ Broughton, James H.; Peter J Southgate. The Trinity: True or False?. UK: The Dawn Book Supply. http://www.biblelight.org/trin/trinind.htm. 
  31. ^ http://www.unitypaloalto.org/beliefs/twenty_questions.html
  32. ^ Stephen F. Winward (1981). Fruit of the Spirit. Inter-Varsity Press. 
  33. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1832.
  34. ^ De Sacramentis 3.8.
  35. ^ a b c Millard J. Erickson (1992). Introducing Christian Doctrine.. Baker Book House. pp. 265–275. 
  36. ^ Norfolk schools told Holy Ghost 'too spooky' | Schools special reports | EducationGuardian.co.uk.
  37. ^ a b c "Catholic Exchange". http://catholicexchange.com/2006/06/24/83561/. Retrieved 2009-05-13. 
  38. ^ http://www.theology.edu/journal/volume3/spirit.htm
  39. ^ Joy In the World[2]; The Torah and Testimony Revealed [3].
  40. ^ “Martin Luther, the originator of the Protestant movement, was not ashamed to think of the Holy Spirit in feminine terms.
  41. ^ Church Fathers Believed the Holy Spirit was Feminine.
  42. ^ For example, R.P. Nettlehorst, professor at the Quartz Hill School of Theology (associated with the Southern Baptist Convention) has written on the subject. [4][5][6].
  43. ^ Evan Randolph, associated with the Episcopal Church, has likewise written on the subject. [7][8].
  44. ^ Charles Fillmore. Jesus Christ Heals. pp. 182–183. 
  45. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1981). "The Holy Spirit". Some Answered Questions. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 108–109. ISBN 0877431906. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-25.html. 
  46. ^ Taherzadeh, Adib (1976). The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, Volume 1: Baghdad 1853-63. Oxford, UK: George Ronald. p. 10. ISBN 0853982708. http://www.peyman.info/cl/Baha%27i/Others/ROB/V1/p007-011Ch01.html?back=%3C. 
  47. ^ Abdo, Lil (1994). "Female Representations of the Holy Spirit in Bahá'í and Christian writings and their implications for gender roles". Bahá'í Studies Review 4 (1). http://bahai-library.com/bsr/bsr04/43_abdo_femalespirit.htm. 
  48. ^ `Abdu'l-Bahá (1981). "The Trinity". Some Answered Questions. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 113–115. ISBN 0877431906. http://reference.bahai.org/en/t/ab/SAQ/saq-27.html. 
  49. ^ Griffith, Sidney H. Holy Spirit, Encyclopaedia of the Quran.
  50. ^ Patrick Hughes, Thomas Patrick Hughes, A Dictionary of Islam, p. 605.
  51. ^ Alan Unterman and Rivka Horowitz,Ruah ha-Kodesh, Encyclopedia Judaica (CD-ROM Edition, Jerusalem: Judaica Multimedia/Keter, 1997).
  52. ^ Joseph Abelson,The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature (London:Macmillan and Co., 1912).

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun

Holy Spirit


Holy Spirit

  1. (Christian) One of the three parts of the Holy Trinity, the others being the Father (God) and the Son (Jesus). Has superceded the term Holy Ghost in many Christian denominations.



Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki


Biblical View of the Spirit.

The most noticeable difference between sentient beings and dead things, between the living and the dead, is in the breath. Whatever lives breathes; whatever is dead does not breathe. Aquila, by strangling some camels and then asking Hadrian to set them on their legs again, proved to the emperor that the world is based on "spirit" (Yer. Ḥag. 41, 77a). In most languages breath and spirit are designated by the same term. The life-giving breath can not be of earthly origin, for nothing is found whence it may be taken. It is derived from the supernatural world, from God. God blew the breath of life into Adam (Gen. ii. 7). "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job xxxiii. 4; comp. ib. xxvii. 3). God "giveth breath unto the people upon it [the earth], and spirit to them that walk therein" (Isa. xlii. 5). "In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job xii. 10). Through His spirit all living things are created; and when He withdraws it they perish (ib. xxxiv. 14; Ps. civ. 29, 30). He is therefore the God of the spirits of all flesh (Num. xvi. 22, xxvii. 16). The breath of animals also is derived from Him (Gen. vi. 17; Ps. civ. 30 [A. V. 29]; Eccl. iii. 19-21; Isa. xlii. 5). The heavenly' bodies likewise are living beings, who have received their spirit from God (Job xxvi. 13; Ps. xxxiii. 6). God's spirit hovered over the form of lifeless matter, thereby making the Creation possible; and it still causes the most tremendous changes (Gen. i. 2; Isa. xxxii. 15).

Hence all creatures live only through the spirit given by God. In a more restricted sense, however, the spirit of God is not identical with this life-giving spirit. He pours out His own spirit upon all whom He has chosen to execute His will and behests, and this spirit imbues them with higher reason and powers, making them capable of heroic speech and action (Gen. xli. 38; Ex. xxxi. 3; Num. xxiv. 2; Judges iii. 10; II Sam. xxiii. 2). This special spirit of God rests upon man (Isa. xi. 2, xlii. 1); it surrounds him like a garment (Judges vi. 34; II Chron. xxiv. 20); it falls upon him and holds him like a hand (Ezek. xi. 5, xxxvii. 1). It may also be taken away from the chosen one and transferred to some one else (Num. xi. 17). It may enter into man and speak with his voice (II Sam. xxiii. 2; Ezek. ii. 2; comp. Jer. x. 14). The prophet sees and hears by means of the spirit (Num. xxiv. 2; I Sam. x. 6; II Sam. xxiii. 2; Isa. xlii. 1; Zech. vii. 12). The Messianic passage in Joel ii. 28-29, to which special significance was subsequently attached, is characteristic of the view regarding the nature of the spirit: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit."

The Divine Spirit.

What the Bible calls "Spirit of Yhwh" and "Spirit of Elohim" is called in the Talmud and Midrash "Holy Spirit" ("Ruaḥ ha-Ḳodesh." never "Ruaḥ Ḳedoshah," as Hilgenfeld says, in "Ketzergesch." p. 237). Although the expression "Holy Spirit" occurs in Ps. li. 11 (LXX. πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον) and in Isa. lxiii. 10, 11, it had not yet the definite meaning which was attached to it in rabbinical literature: in the latter it is equivalent to theexpression "Spirit of the Lord," which was avoided on account of the disinclination to the use of the Tetragrammaton (see, for example, Targ. to Isa. xl. 13). It is probably owing to this fact that the Shekinah is often referred to instead of the Holy Spirit. It is said of the former, as of the Holy Spirit, that it rests upon a person. The difference between the two in such cases has not yet been determined. It is certain that the New Testament has πνεῦμα ἅγιον in those passages, also, where the Hebrew and Aramaic had "Shekinah"; for in Greek there is no equivalent to the latter, unless it be δόξα (="gleam of light"), by which "ziw ha-shekinah" may be rendered. Because of the identification of the Holy Spirit with the Shekinah, πνεῦμα ἅγιον is much more frequently mentioned in the New Testament than is "Ruaḥ ha-Ḳodesh" in rabbinical literature.

Nature of the Holy Spirit.

Although the Holy Spirit is often named instead of God (e.g., in Sifre, Deut. 31 [ed. Friedmann, p. 72]), yet it was conceived as being something distinct. The Spirit was among the ten things that were created on the first day (Ḥag. 12a, b). Though the nature of the Holy Spirit is really nowhere described, the name indicates that it was conceived as a kind of wind that became manifest through noise and light. As early as Ezek. iii. 12 it is stated, "the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great rushing," the expression "behind me" characterizing the unusual nature of the noise. The Shekinah made a noise before Samson like a bell (Soṭah 9b, below). When the Holy Spirit was resting upon him, his hair gave forth a sound like a bell, which could be heard from afar. It imbued him with such strength that he could uproot two mountains and rub them together like pebbles, and could cover leagues at one step (ib. 17b; Lev. R. viii. 2). Similarly Acts ii. 2 reads: "And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting" (it must be noted that this happened at Pentecost, i.e., the Feast of Revelation). Although the accompanying lights are not expressly mentioned, the frequently recurring phrase "he beheld ["heẓiẓ"] in the Holy Spirit" shows that he upon whom the spirit rested saw a light. The Holy Spirit gleamed in the court of Shem, of Samuel, and of King Solomon (Gen. R. lxxxv. 12). It "glimmered" in Tamar (Gen. xxxviii. 18), in the sons of Jacob (Gen. xlii. 11), and in Moses (Ex. ii. 12), i.e., it settled upon the persons in question (see Gen. R. lxxxv. 9, xci. 7; Lev. R. xxxii. 4, "niẓoẓah" and "heẓiẓ"; comp. also Lev. R. viii. 2, "hitḥil le-gashgesh"). From the day that Joseph was sold the Holy Spirit left Jacob, who saw and heard only indistinctly (Gen. R. xci. 6). The Holy Spirit, being of heavenly origin, is composed, like everything that comes from heaven, of light and fire. When it rested upon Phinehas his face burned like a torch (Lev. R. xxi., end). When the Temple was destroyed and Israel went into exile, the Holy Spirit returned to heaven; this is indicated in Eccl. xii. 7: "the spirit shall return unto God" (Eccl. R. xii. 7). The spirit talks sometimes with a masculine and sometimes with a feminine voice (Eccl. vii. 29 [A. V. 28]); i.e., as the word "ruaḥ" is both masculine and feminine, the Holy Spirit was conceived as being sometimes a man and sometimes a woman.

In the Form of a Dove.

The four Gospels agree in saying that when Jesus was baptized the Holy Spirit in the shape of a dove came down from the opening heaven and rested upon him. The phraseology of the passages, especially in Luke, shows that this description was not meant symbolically, as Conybeare ("Expositor," iv., ix. 455) assumes, following Alexandrian views (comp. Matt. iii. 16; Mark i. 10; Luke iii. 22; John iv. 33; and Hastings, "Dict. Bible," ii. 406a). This idea of a dove-like form is found in Jewish literature also. The phrase in Cant. ii. 12, "the voice of the dove" (A. V. "turtle"), is translated in the Targum "the voice of the Holy Spirit." The passage in Gen. i. 2, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," is interpreted by Ben Zoma (c. 100) to mean, "As a dove that hovers above her brood without touching it" (Ḥag. 15a). As the corresponding passage in the Palestinian Talmud (Ḥag. 77b, above) mentions the eagle instead of the dove, the latter is perhaps not named here with reference to the Holy Spirit. A teacher of the Law heard in a ruin a kind of voice ("bat ḳol") that complained like a dove: "Wo to the children, because of whose sins I have destroyed my house" (Ber. 3a, below). Evidently God Himself, or rather the Holy Spirit, is here referred to as cooing like a dove (comp. Abbot, "From Letter to Spirit," pp. 106-135). See Dove.

Dissemination of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells only among a worthy generation, and the frequency of its manifestations is proportionate to the worthiness. There was no manifestation of it in the time of the Second Temple (Yoma 21b), while there were many during the time of Elijah (Tosef., Soṭah, xii. 5). According to Job xxviii. 25, the Holy Spirit rested upon the Prophets in varying degrees, some prophesying to the extent of one book only, and others filling two books (Lev. R. xv. 2). Nor did it rest upon them continually, but only for a time. The stages of development, the highest of which is the Holy Spirit, are as follows: zeal, integrity, purity, holiness, humility, fear of sin, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit conducts Elijah, who brings the dead to life (Yer. Shab. 3c, above, and parallel passage). The pious act through the Holy Spirit (Tan., Wayeḥi, 14); whoever teaches the Torah in public partakes of the Holy Spirit (Cant. R. i. 9, end; comp. Lev. R. xxxv. 7). When Phinehas sinned the Holy Spirit departed from him (Lev. R. xxxvii. 4; comp. Gen. R. xix. 6; Pesiḳ. 9a).

In Biblical times the Holy Spirit was widely disseminated, resting on those who, according to the Bible, displayed a propitious activity; thus it rested on Eber and, according to Josh. ii. 16, even on Rahab (Seder 'Olam, 1; Sifre, Deut. 22). It was necessary to reiterate frequently that Solomon wrote his three books, Proverbs, Canticles, and Ecclesiastes, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (Cant. R. i. 6-10), because there was a continual opposition not only to the wise king personally, but also to his writings. A teacher of the Law says that probably for this reason the Holy Spirit rested upon Solomon in his old age only (ib. i. 10, end).

Holy Spirit and Prophecy.

The visible results of the activity of the Holy Spirit, according to the Jewish conception, are the books of the Bible, all of which have been composed under its inspiration. All the Prophets spoke "in the Holy Spirit"; and the most characteristic sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit is the gift of prophecy, in the sense that the person upon whom it rests beholds the past and the future. With the death of the last three prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit ceased to manifest itself in Israel; but the Bat Ḳol was still available. "A bat ḳol announced twice at assemblies of the scribes: 'There is a man who is worthy to have the Holy Spirit rest upon him.' On one of these occasions all eyes turned to Hillel; on the other, to Samuel the Lesser" (Tosef., Soṭah, xiii. 2-4, and parallels). Although the Holy Spirit was not continually present, and did not rest for any length of time upon any individual, yet there were cases in which it appeared and made knowledge of the past and of the future possible (ib.; also with reference to Akiba, Lev. R. xxi. 8; to Gamaliel II., ib. xxxvii. 3, and Tosef., Pes. i. 27; to Meïr, Lev. R. ix. 9; etc.).

The Holy Spirit rested not only on the children of Israel who crossed the Red Sea (Tosef., Soṭah, vi. 2), but, toward the end of the time of the Second Temple, occasionally on ordinary mortals; for "if they are not prophets, they are at least the sons of prophets" (Tosef., Pes. iv. 2). The Holy Spirit is at times identified with the spirit of prophecy (comp. Seder 'Olam, 1, beginning; Targ. Yer. to Gen. xli. 38, xliii. 14; II Kings ix. 26; Isa. xxxii. 15. xl. 13, xliv. 3; Cant. R. i. 2). Sifre 170 (to Deut. xviii. 18) remarks: "'I will put My words into his mouth,' means 'I put them into his mouth, but I do not speak with him face to face'; know, therefore, that henceforth the Holy Spirit is put into the mouths of the Prophets." The "knowledge of God" is the Holy Spirit (Cant. R. i. 9). The division of the country by lot among the several tribes was likewise effected by means of the Holy Spirit (Sifre, Num. 132, p. 49a). On "inspiration" see Jew. Encyc. iii. 147, s.v. Bible Canon, § 9; especially Meg. 7a; and Inspiration. It may simply be noted here that in rabbinical literature single passages are often considered as direct utterances of the Holy Spirit (Sifre, Num. 86; Tosef., Soṭah, ix. 2; Sifre, Deut. 355, p. 148a, six times; Gen. R. lxxviii. 8, lxxxiv. 12; Lev. R. iv. 1 [the expression "and the Holy Spirit cries" occurs five times], xiv. 2, xxvii. 2; Num. R. xv. 21; xvii. 2, end; Deut. R. xi., end).

Gentiles and the Holy Spirit.

The opposite of the Holy Spirit is the unclean spirit ("ruaḥ ṭum'ah"; lit. "spirit of uncleanliness"). The Holy Spirit rests on the person who seeks the Shekinah (God), while the unclean spirit rests upon him who seeks uncleanness (Sifre, Deut. 173, and parallel passage). Hence arises the contrast, as in the New Testament between πνεῦμα ἅγιον and πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον. On the basis of II Kings iii. 13, the statement is made, probably as a polemic against the founder of Christianity, that the Holy Spirit rests only upon a happy soul (Yer. Suk. 55a, and elsewhere). Among the pagans Balaam, from being a mere interpreter of dreams, rose to be a magician and then a possessor of the Holy Spirit (Num. R. xx. 7). But the Holy Spirit did not appear to him except at night, all pagan prophets being in possession of their gift only then (ib. xx. 12). The Balaam section was written in order to show why the Holy Spirit was taken from the heathen—i.e., because Balaam desired to destroy a whole people without cause (ib. xx. 1). A very ancient source (Sifre, Deut. 175) explains, on the basis of Deut. xviii. 15, that in the Holy Land the gift of prophecy is not granted to the heathen or in the interest of the heathen, nor is it given outside of Palestine even to Jews. In the Messianic time, however, the Holy Spirit will, according to Joel ii. 28, 29, be poured out upon all Israel; i.e., all the people will be prophets (Num. R. xv., end). According to the remarkable statement of Tanna debe Eliyahu, ed. Friedmann, the Holy Spirit will be poured out equally upon Jews and pagans, both men and women, freemen and slaves.

In the New Testament.

The doctrine that after the advent of the Messiah the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all mankind explains the fact that in the New Testament such great importance is assigned to the Holy Spirit. The phrase τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον occurs from eighty to ninety times (Swete, in Hastings, "Dict. Bible," ii. 404); while the phrase τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ δεοῦ is comparatively rare, it occurs several times. In Acts i. 5, 8 it is said, as in the midrash quoted above, that in the Messianic time the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon every one, and in Acts ii. 16 et seq. Peter states that Joel's prophecy regarding the Holy Spirit has been fulfilled. "While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God" (ib. x. 44-46). Luke also says (Luke xi. 13) that God gives the Holy Spirit to those that ask Him. The phrase "joy of the Holy Ghost" (I Thess. i. 6) also recalls the Midrash sentence quoted above referring to the contrast between the clean and the unclean spirit (Mark iii. 30). The inspiration of the Biblical writers is acknowledged in the same way as in rabbinical literature (Matt. xxii. 43; Mark xii. 36; II Peter i. 21). Hence the conception of the Holy Spirit is derived from one and the same source. But as the New Testament writers look upon the Messiah, who is actually identified with the Holy Spirit, as having arrived, their view assumes a form fundamentally different from that of the Jewish view in certain respects; i.e., as regards: (1) the conception and birth of the Messiah through the Holy Spirit (Matt. i. 18 et seq.; Luke i. 35; John iii. 5-8); (2) the speaking in different tongues ("glossolalia"; Acts ii. et passim): (3) the materialistic view of the Holy Spirit, evidenced in the idea that it may be communicated by means of the breath (e.g., John xx. 22); and (4) the strongly developed view of the personality of the Holy Spirit (comp., for example, Matt. xii. 32; Acts v. 3; I Cor. iii. 16; Eph. ii. 22; I Peter ii. 5; Gospel to the Hebrews, quoted inHastings, "Dict. Bible," ii. 406, foot, et passim). In consequence of these fundamental differences many points of the Christian conception of the Holy Spirit have remained obscure, at least to the uninitiated.

In the Apocrypha.

It is noteworthy that the Holy Spirit is less frequently referred to in the Apocrypha and by the Hellenistic Jewish writers; and this circumstance leads to the conclusion that the conception of the Holy Spirit was not prominent in the intellectual life of the Jewish people, especially in the Diaspora. In I Macc. iv. 45, xiv. 41 prophecy is referred to as something long since passed. Wisdom ix. 17 refers to the Holy Spirit which God sends down from heaven, whereby His behests are recognized. The discipline of the Holy Spirit preserves from deceit (ib. i. 5; comp. ib. vii. 21-26). It is said in the Psalms of Solomon, xvii. 42, in reference to the Messiah, the son of David: "he is mighty in the Holy Spirit"; and in Susanna, 45, that "God raised up the Holy Spirit of a youth, whose name was Daniel." Josephus ("Contra Ap." i. 8) expresses the same view in regard to prophetic inspiration that is found in rabbinical literatur (comp. Jew. Encyc. iii. 147b, s.v. Bible Canon; Josephus, "Ant." iv. 6, § 5; vi. 8, § 2; also Sifre, Deut. 305; Ber. 31b, above; Gen. R. lxx. 8, lxxv. 5; Lev. R. vi.; Deut. R. vi.—the Holy Spirit defending Israel before God; Eccl. R. vii. 23; Pirḳe R. El. xxxvii., beginning). See also Hosanna; Inspiration; Ordination; Tabernacles, Feast of.

Bibliography: F. Weber, Jüdische Theologie, 2d ed., pp. 80 et seq., 190 et seq., and Index, s.v. Geist, Leipsic, 1897; Herzog-Hauck, Real-Encyc. 3d ed., vi. 444-450 (with full bibliography); Hastings, Dict. Bible, iii. 402-411; Bacher, Ag. Tan. passim; idem, Ag. Pal. Amor. passim; E. A. Abbot, From Letter to Spirit, ch. vii. et passim, London, 1903; E. Sokolowsky, Die Begriffe Geist und Leben bei Paulus, Göttingen, 1903; H. Weinel, Die Wirkungen des Geistes und der Geister (his quotations [pp. 81, 131, 164, 190] from Christian writers are interesting from a Jewish point of view).

This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.
This article needs to be merged with Holy Ghost.
This article needs to be merged with Spirit, Holy (Catholic Encyclopedia).

Simple English

Redirecting to Holy Spirit


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