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Theological Notebook--"The Angelic Spirit in Early Judaism" by John R. Levison

"The Angelic Spirit in Early Judaism" by John R. Levison, Society of Biblical Literature 1995 Seminar Papers

This article is designed to "sketch possible foregrounds for the divine spirit in the Fourth Gospel, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Ascension of Isaiah." Essentially, you have a collection of texts from the Old Testament that show the divine spirit--perhaps what the Christians will come to call the Holy Spirit--being portrayed as perhaps an angelic being. The article generally didn't translate its original language citations, and while I can plod through the gist of the Greek, I know no Hebrew, so I had to do a considerable amount of understanding the context alone without being able to distinguish Hebrew words from one another. What the hodge-podge of texts revealed was that we seemed to have two options in trying to understand references to the divine spirit in the Hebrew texts:
1) We either have a concept of the Spirit that is developing: a growing recognition of the "Spirit" being something distinct and particular, or

2) perhaps the spirit of God that is described in a given story is an angelic being (often contrasted with a demonic being).

In this case, we have to be very cautious about seeing any references to a "holy spirit" in the Jewish text as a reference to God--or even moreso as being like a Christian understanding of a "Person" in God--but rather simply as a Jewish was of describing a spiritual being who was "one of the good guys." A holy spirit, as opposed to an evil spirit of the sort that tormented Saul in the book of Samuel. The article lets us approach our examination of the Holy Spirit in Judaism with greater caution.
Tags: holy spirit course, jewish mysticism, johannine literature, patristics, theological notebook

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