As I come toward the end of Jack Levison’s Inspired: The Holy Spirit and the Mind of Faith I’ve been thinking about those scholars and theologians who have become the most influential in the study of Pneumatology—Pneumatologists if you will. Obviously, there are those who are more inclined to contribute to our understanding of the development of Pneumatology in ancient Israelite, early Jewish, and early Christian thought. Then there are those who have contributed over the centuries toward the Church’s language about the holy Spirit, spirits, and spirituality. Finally, we have our modern theologians who remind us that we can’t stop thinking about this topic.
Personally, my own engagement began around Pentecostals. This led me to Gordon D. Fee, an exegete par excellence and a wonderful scholar of the Spirit. Other Pentecostals who I found to be helpful include Roger Stronstad and Amos Yong. There are some Pentecostal/Charismatic types with whom I plan to interact soon such as Max Turner and Frank D. Macchia.
Obviously John R. (Jack) Levison has made a huge impact on me, as has James D.G. Dunn (honestly, I wish Dunn would resume some of the Pneumatology of his younger days because I think he has more to contribute here), both shaped by the Methodist tradition.
We might speak of Hermann Gunkel as “the Father of Modern Pneumatology” (though one might argue that William J. Seymour has as much a right to that title as anyone, though indirectly). Pneumatologists who I’ve seen shape the thinking of many include Jürgen Moltmann and Wolfhart Pannenberg. If we dig back further into time we may mention people like Basil of Caesarea or John Calvin.
Which scholars/theologians have influenced your understanding of the holy Spirit, ideas about spirit/s, and Christian spirituality? Tell me why.
Brian: I found ‘Flame of Love’ by Clark Pinnock very helpful and pastorally engaging. Pinnock was nurtured by numerous springs, his own Baptist theology, Orthodoxy (he is with the eastern Church on the Filioque), the charismatic renewal (especially in its Canadian expression) and open theism. If you haven’t taken a look at it, may be worth your while.
John: Yes, Pinnock! He has been a very influential modern theologian of the Spirit.
Brian, I’m going to be reading a lot about pneumatology this semester. Off the top of my head, I would suggest Molly Marshall’s Joining the Dance. She is influenced by Moltmann, as well as her own pastoral experience.
It’s interesting that many people put out Trinitarian books, but there are few specific theologies of the Holy Spirit. Of course, all pneumatologies are rooted in the Trinity, as are all christologies. The connection isn’t always clearly made.
@Kate: Excellent, thank you. I’ll add her to my reading list. I agree that Pneumatology is essentially Trinitarian, but as you note, it feels as if it is an appendix to many discussions on the Trinity.
I will second Kate’s suggestion. Actually, I quite literally saw this post within five minutes of reading the last sentence of Marshall’s Joining the Dance. Currently working on a review that I’ll probably post on here in a few days.
@Joshua: Awesome, I look forward to reading it.
I don’t have a contribution specifically on pneumatology, Brian. But since this post is recent, and at least related to something I wanted to pass on to you, I’ll do it here.
A few months ago you’d asked about sources for studying ancient “possession” views and issues (not sure how you worded it exactly). Yesterday I stumbled onto a fairly recent source I don’t know if you may have discovered. It may contribute something if you are still pursuing this subject.
Actually it combines both excorcisms and healings — a biblical and extrabiblical review of Jesus’ works per the Gospels and comparative accounts in the same general era. It is a chapter (which I did read) in a 2013 book. It’s in a multi-vol. set, so I’m still a bit confused on the proper title for the pertinent volume. Anyway, in full: “Texts and Editions for NT Study”, ed. by Stanley E. Porter and Wendy J. Porter, Vol.9. “Early Christianity in its Hellenistic Context, Vol. 1: Christian Origins and Greco-Roman Culture” (ed. by S. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts). Within this Vol. 9 and/or 1, the chapt. is “The Excorcisms and Healings of Jesus within Classical Culture”, by Tony Costa, pp. 113-144.
There is a fair amount of detail, and almost entirely on historical-critical issues re. accounts and “genuineness”, not delving into anthropological or metaphysical issues or analyzing what may have been the dynamics or interpreting what was “really” happening. One thing did emerge a bit more clearly for me: that there seems to be some overlap, when all Gospels are taken together, of the nature and function of excorcism and healing (at least part of which goes without saying… that if a demon[s] is expelled the person is better!)
Of course, “by what spirit” Jesus did what he did comes up in one Gospel (Mark?) at least, so that does get us into pneumatology, as does a favorite issue of yours: how to look at the relationship of The Baptist and Jesus and their respective followings. Luke certainly organizes around the coming of the Holy Spirit as a critical change/empowerment, and that at specifically the Day of Penetcost. He actually makes even more of this, implicitly if not explicitly, than I think traditional orthodox views have, at least non-Pentecostal views… and I mean broader than “gifts of the Spirit” and the phenomenon of the first “Pentecost”.
@Howard: Thank you for the recommendation. I do think it’s connected because in Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian literature we have gods/God/spirits/Spirit possessing humans, speaking through them, giving visions, and so forth and so on. Anything that allows for juxtapositions will be helpful.
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