New Book on the Spirit by John R. Levison

New Book on the Spirit by John R. Levison October 23, 2009

I just picked up John R. Levison’s Filled with the Spirit (Eerdmans, 2009), a book written by a real expert on the Spirit in early Judaism and early Christianity.  While I have not read the book yet, the argument he is attempting to make is quite paradigm-shifting:

The initial endowment of God’s spirit at birth must not…be understood as an inferior presence, a merely physical reality, in comparison with charismatic endowments, but rather in its own right as a vital and powerful presence with its own supernatural effects…

Gunkel was absolutely justified in identifying early Christian conceptions of the holy spirit with miraculous and mysterious effects. Early Christianity did believe that filling with the spirit was a special endowment, a superadditum, which brought extraordinary abilities in the swells of its powerful wake…

While early Christians put their stock, even their self-definition, on the line in a subsequent experience of the spirit, Israelites did not.  In their narratives, the spirit which effected extraordinary insight was not necessarily the product of a charismatic endowment…

What may be true of early Christian belief cannot be said to characterize all Israelite claims to inspiration, particularly those claims in which the spirit is said to reside within or to fill an individual.

Here is a line from Max Turner’s endorsement: ‘Anyone writing seriously on the spirit in the biblical literature needs now to start with this book…’ – Coming from a leading expert on biblical pneumatology — WOW!

Having looked at Levison’s discussion of NT texts a bit (especially Spirit + cultic imagery in Paul), I wish this book had come out a year earlier so I could have worked through it for the benefit of my doctoral research.

Do check it out HERE.

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