Hermann Gunkel, The Influence of the Holy Spirit: The Popular View of the Apostolic Age and the Teaching of the Apostle Paul, translated by R.A. Harrisville and P.A. Quanbeck II (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2008). (Amazon.com)
Hermann Gunkel’s Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes nach der populären Anschauungen der apostolischen Zeit und der Lehre des Apostels Paulus (Göttingen: Vanderhoeck & Ruprecht, 1888) has been made available in English by translators R.A. Harrisville and P.A. Quanbeck II. This book “shattered the reigning images of the New Testament idea of the Spirit” (from the blurb) when it was originally published in the late nineteenth century. In spite of being written over a century ago it remains one of the most insightful, short books on Pneumatology even today. Gunkel doesn’t waste any space. Each page is filled with insightful and thought provoking interpretations of the New Testament, especially the Pauline Epistles.
The book is divided into two parts: the first examining the broad Pneumatology of the apostolic Church and the second focusing more narrowly on the Apostle Paul. Gunkel shows an awareness of the Pneumatology of the Hebrew Scriptures, early Jewish literature, and early Christian literature, including the Apostolic Fathers. He does not deal much with Graeco-Roman Pneumatologies.
If the book has a weakness it would be that it was written prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). Many of Gunkel’s arguments regarding the novelty of early Christian Pneumatology prove false when compares to the DSS. For example, Gunkel doesn’t find a connection between the Spirit and ethics/virtue in early Judaism, whereas 1QS has a list of virtues that all but parallels the fruits of the spirit in Gal. 5. Other examples could be provided, but there is no reason to critique Gunkel’s oversight when he couldn’t avoid it because of his place in time. I do recommend reading this book and then following it with a close reading of John R. Levison’s The Spirit in First-Century Judaism and Filled with the Spirit. Levison’s work is essentially an updating and correcting of Gunkel’s in light of Graeco-Roman and Qumranic Pneumatologies. Similarly, those who have read Gordon D. Fee’s God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul may enjoy juxtaposing these two scholar’s interpretations of the Apostle Paul.
Special thanks for Paul Bruggink who sent this book to me as a gift.
Reblogged this on Sunday School on Steroids-The Seminary Experience.
“Gunkel doesn’t find a connection between the Spirit and ethics/virtue in early Judaism, whereas 1QS has a list of virtues that all but parallels the fruits of the spirit in Gal. 5.”
On what grounds do we lump the Qumran community in with the Sadducees and Pharisees (who Jesus was clearly critical of – as evidence in the ‘cleansing of the temple’)? Assuming the Qumran community was the Essenes spoken of by Josephus, only Josephus lumps them together as ‘sects’.
The Qumran community were clearly hostile to the Jerusalem elite. Supporters of the Hasmonean dynasty that had ruled independent of the Seleucid empire also had cause to be hostile to the Jerusalem elite (and Rome) since Jerusalem’s Judean Hasmonean influence had been removed and handed over to Herod of Idumea (an Edomite) and his priests. This was nothing less than Israelite/Edomite animosity at play in history. The community of Qumran evidenced attitudes ranging from a serious reservation about temple piety to a stricter view tantamount to an abandonment of its precincts.
Being critical of simplified views of first century Judaism then, is warranted, given it’s obvious failure to historically contextualize the perspectives at play; this is especially true of the views which fail to distinguish the extreme degrees of fidelity these different sects had to the faith handed down by Moses and the prophets.
It’s observant that Gunkel’s observation was made before the discovery of the DSS but that doesn’t mean his observation is wrong. It may be that the DSS also exhibit a pneumatology that that is consistent with the bible, however that doesn’t make mean the Qumran community was representative of 1st century Judaism (contrary to the prejudices of modern scholars) given the separatist views that community held of themselves which set them apart.
To clarify, lest my comments were misunderstood: I’m not saying the DSS are representative of some sort of monolithic Judaism. There is no singular Judaism. My point is this: Gunkel didn’t find parallels, so he thought that Paul’s thoughts were completely disconnected from the matrix from which he emerged. While it would be foolish to say Paul borrowed from Qumran, what the DSS do show is that there were certain ideas and concepts floating around during Paul’s day that have a touch point with Paul’s Pneumatology. Again, this isn’t saying the DSS are representative, nor is it to say that Paul is borrowing from Qumran, but that Paul’s complete uniqueness doesn’t hold in light of the DSS (e.g., juxtaposing 1QS w. Rom. 8 or Gal. 5). He may be unique, but not in a way that suggests no parallels with his contemporaries.
That came across more critically than intended.
It makes sense that Gunkel wouldn’t see direct influence on Paul from Paul’s own tradition. Few of Christianity’s elements are evident there (and I include Sadducee-ism though that wasn’t Pauls’ tradition) Discovery of the DSSs shows us another extant tradition Christianity could draw upon, and apparently has. My point was that this tradition which Gunkel wasn’t aware of, as a form of ‘Judaism’, had as much separating it from the other well known forms of Judaism as Christianity did (In saying this I don’t believe I’m romanticizing).
If God is without change and variation unbound by time, the faith and future revealed to Moses would have to be consistent with the one shared by the prophets, ultimately fulfilled (perfectly) by and revealed completely, exemplified by Christ. This means I’m intellectually committed to a messianic old covenant [luke 24:44][Matt 5;17] but also a perfectly revealed Israelite covenant between God and his flock in Christ. This is where the DSSs come in, for they very much show that linkage.
I agree, saying Paul drew on this community’s work directly would be foolish, and unfounded. Yet it might not be foolish to say Christianity did, and so Paul’s conversion caused him to rediscovered what some already apparently knew … Notwithstanding your good historical suggestion the DSS’s are evidence Paul’s perspective was not unique when Paul formulated them, I believe that for the additional theological reasons above.
Traditional copies of this book may be found here.
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