The second chapter of John R. Levison’s Filled with the Spirit is titled “Wisdom and Spirit Within”. In it he focuses upon his thesis that, “The spirit given at birth was considered no less divine, no less the spirit of God, than the spirit understood as subsequent, charismatic endowment.” (80, italics his) The spirit that God has already given has qualities of “wisdom, knowledge, and insight” that must be cultivated but that are already there. (81) Levison writes, “There is, once again, no distinction between the spirit as a life-principle and the spirit as the source of extraordinary feats or insight.” (35)
The motif here is that being “filled with the spirit” does not necessitate something exterior becoming interior but rather something already interior being increased of “filled up”. As examples Levison goes through various OT passages showing examples of heroes whose spirit filled activities were not necessary foreign but rather the result of something previously cultivated that God used. This list includes Elihu in Job; the prophet Micah; Bezalel in Exodus; Joshua; Daniel. I will not comment on the passages that he cited since this is something someone should interact with while reading the book itself and not my comments.
This chapter is one of those were it feels the assertions made need a greater context. I have seen where Levison is going with his reunification of the concepts of the spirit as life principle and charismatic empowerment elsewhere, but I am not sure exactly where he is going to take these examples. I think he is setting up further arguments.
As someone who spends most of my time in the NT I am interested to see how he transfers these concepts to Johannine passages but even more so Lukan or Pauline. It seems to me that in the latter the gifting/empowerment of the Spirit is seen as a foreign force.
I must admit that as a reader the second chapter of this book dragged on forever. It felt like fifty-two pages of material that could have been said in twenty-six. This is a subjective critique and I acknowledge it.
Read my earlier notes on the Introduction, Prescript to Part 1, and Chapter One
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