For some context on this post please see my previous interactions with this book here.

Filled with the Spirit

At the end of part one of his book John R. Levison concludes that Israelite literature has an obvious Pneumatological element. Now he expresses his concern that too many scholars have misunderstood Second Temple Judaism as being anti-climactic as regards discussions of the Holy Spirit. As it is often said both in popular and scholarly literature: the Spirit left with the prophets and returned with John the Baptist. Levison says that this is not so. Rather, Second Temple Judaism is very Pneumatological in its own right.

The structure of this whole book is built around the work of Hermann Gunkle. The prescript to part two of the book discusses one successful move by Gunkle and one that Levison thinks was a mistake. On one hand, Gunkle was ahead of his time as part of the history of religions school in that he felt that you must search Judaism for the milieu from which Christianity arose. On the other hand, Gunkle made the mistake noted above as seeing Judaism as primarily void of the Spirit. (pp. 109-114)

While there were others who gave more credit to Jewish literature for the use of Spirit language (namely, Paul Volz) it is apparent that this has been a minority position. Levison goes on to list scholars from C.K. Barrett to G.W.H. Lampe to Joachim Jeremias to J.D.G. Dunn and even G.D. Fee as those who have perpetuated this mistake. (pp. 114-115) This provides Levison with his agenda going into part two of his book which he describes as the following:

On the simplest of planes, Part II of our study debunks the false conception of Judaism during the Greco-Roman era. Time after time we will encounter ancient claims, from Palestine to Egypt, that falsify the perception of Judaism as a religion void of the spirit. It will no longer be possible to dismiss Second Temple Judaism as a spiritually impoverished religion that functions as a negative foil for the birth of Christianity. (p. 116)

This is where we will resume next time as Levison begins his journey into Jewish literature to prove a Pneumatic element that has often been overlooked.