maandag 16 februari 2015

The Spirit of God in the Old Testament

Although the Spirit of God is an important subject in the Old Testament, relatively little scholarship has been focused on it. A couple of evangelical scholars has written a bundle as an attempt to make an contribution to remedy this defect. The bundle is arranged in eight main sections: orientation and Ancient Near Eastern context, the Sprit and creation, wisdom, creativity, pro-phecy, leadership, future and finally the Spirit at Qumran.
In the introduction the editors rightly state that although the spirit is also connected with creation in the Old Testament, the Spirit’s role is centered on empowering to service. In the Old Testament great emphasis is given to physical empowerment. This emphasis we do not see in the New Testament.
I would add that the New Testament in distinction to the Old Testament never speaks about the role of the Spirit in creation. The person and work of the Spirit has three focuses in the New Testament: the person of Christ, the Scriptures and the church. The last aspect is most emphasized.
In his article ‘Breath, Wind, Spirit and the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament’ Richard E. Averbeck point to the relationship between the role of the Spirit of God in creation and the renewing work of the Spirit in the transformation of the people of God, a trans-formation than can be compared with the resurrection from the dead.
In the article of John Walton on the Ancient Near Eastern background of the Spirit of God more emphasis falls on the discontinuity between the Old Testament than the continuity, although the last aspect is certainly not denied. Walton seems to deny that in the Old Testament the spirit can be related to the essence of YHWH. I am sure the continuity is greater than Walton suggests.
I can agree with what Jamie A. Grant writes in his article ‘Spirit and Presence in Psalm 139’: ‘So, while we are not talking about a fully evolved Trinitarian theology, it does seem that the psalmist is referring to the Spirit in Psalm 139:7 as a personal representation of the very essence of Yahweh’s being.’
When Daniel I. Block writes in his article ‘The view from the top’ that Spirit can be a synecdoche for YHWH himself in the Old Testament that tends in the same direction. In the Old Testament the Spirit of God can be portrayed as an extension of the personality of YHWH.
The articles of Willem VanGemeren and Robin Routledge on the Spirit and the future highlight the transforming and renewing activity of the Spirit of God. The background of the corporate renewing of the nation by the Spirit of God is the disaster of the exile. I would emphasis that especially here we see that what becomes the centre of the work of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament is already present in the Old Testament.
I consider that Presence, Power and Promise contributes in various ways to a better under­standing of the importance and significance of the spirit of God in the Old Testament.
David Firth and Paul Wegner (ed.), Presence, Power and Promise: The Role of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament, Nottingham, England: Apollos, 2011. Pp. 215. Paperback. £19,99. ISBN 978-1-84474-134-0.