Barry Newman's Blog

August 31, 2010

The Essence of Spirit (part VII)

Filed under: Spirit — barrynewman @ 11:52 pm

General Discussion

As already indicated, to the modern western mind, the semantic domain for Ruach of the Old Testament appears diffuse and extensive.  The three main elements are the ruach of God, the Ruach of the natural physical world and the Ruach of mankind. 

Within the major category, the Ruach of God, the dominant minor category is “God at work” while at the sub-category level, the Ruach of God coming upon, filling or dwelling is the most dominant.  The other significant sub-categories are the Ruach of God for prophecy, the wind of God and the Ruach of God conveying wisdom, knowledge, perception, or understanding.

Within the Ruach of the natural world, the most dominant minor category is the Wind – the most dominant minor category of all minor categories and only exceeded by its own major category, and the major category, the Ruach of mankind.

With respect to mankind, a significant element is that which relates to the vibrant aspect of life – life itself, one’s strength of purpose, and one’s emotional state, particularly being distressed, depressed, or fearful.  Another significant element is that of the moral dimension of humankind. 

The semantic linkages are hypothesized as follows:  Wind, breath and “air” are non-material, non-tangible functional realities. Wind is often spoken of as the wind of God.  It comes from him.  He is the ultimate reality but is Spirit – non-material and non-tangible, yet the one who is at work.  One aspect of his non-material and non-tangible nature is his own being, mind and character.  Mankind, made in his image is also a spiritual being.  His non-material non-tangible and functional aspects are evident in his being, his mental functioning, his external functioning, his morality and emotional states.  Breath is sometimes associated not only with God and with mankind but animals as well.  Other entities also belong to this non-material non-tangible spiritual world.  Some only exist in one’s thinking.  Abstract entities such as the measure of a side, face, or length of a building and the experiential also partake of a non-material non-tangible characteristic.  The hub of these various linkages is non-material, non-tangible yet functional and often active reality.

One of the overlaps between the semantic domains of leb/lebab and nephesh as they applied to mankind was in terms of mental states and functioning.  Each is concerned with emotional states, knowing and mental attributes.  However the focus of leb/lebab is on mental states, including emotions and functions while that of nephesh is on the being, the self, the physical person who has these and other attributes.  As argued above, ruach while having an extensive semantic field has as a binding centre the non-material and non-tangible aspects of the person, though these include mental states and functions.


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