September 16, 2010
Comparison of the Semantic Domains of Ruach and Pneuma with those for Leb/Lebab and Kardia, and Nephesh and Psuche
The domains of ruach and pneuma overlap with those of leb/lebab and kardia, and nephesh and psuche in a number of areas. Sometimes they may refer to the same entity, for instances “breath” as is the case with nephesh and psuche, and ruach and pneuma. The righteous leb/lebab or kardia can barely be distinguished from the righteous nephesh or psuche and the distressed of leb/lebab or kardia can barely be distinguished from the distressed in ruach or pneuma. Overall, however, the three sets of words serve different purposes. Taking the emotional aspects of mankind as an example, in general terms the differences are as follows. Leb/lebab or kardia, in modern terms, the mind is the source of the emotions. The nephesh or psuche, the person, portray emotional characteristics. The ruach or pneuma of the person refers to that non-tangible inner being that possesses the emotional characteristics. Though the three sets of words operate here and there within the same domains, in general terms they refer to different entities.
That the semantic domain of ruach is substantially different to those of leb/lebab and nephesh on the one hand and that the semantic domain of pneuma is substantially different to those of nephesh and psuche on the other is illustrated by comparing the frequency with which these words are used of God and of mankind. See Table 14. In this table the frequency of occurrence is given as the ratio of the number of instances, where the word is used of God or mankind, to the total number of instances. The ratio is then given as a percentage.
|Used of God||Frequency%||27/8553||21/7543||104/385 27||1/1611||2./1122||230/372 62|
|Used of Mankind||Frequency %||791/855 93||694/754 92||156/385 41||158/161 98||108/112 96||72/372 19|
Table 14 – Comparison between Frequency of Usage with Reference to God or Mankind, of Leb/lebab, Nephesh and Ruach, and Kardia, Psuche and Pneuma
Whereas both the Hebrew words leb/lebab and nephesh are used relatively rarely of God, ruach is used somewhat frequently of God. The former pair is used very commonly but ruach far less commonly, with reference to mankind. Comparing the usage of the pair of Greek words kardia and psuche, with that for pneuma reveals a similar pattern.
Except for the notion of wind, often evident in the use of ruach, the semantic domains of ruach in the Old Testament and pneuma in the New Testament are somewhat similar though the relative populations of the categories that inhabit those domains differ. Taken together their semantic domain, as judged by a western mind, is however rather diffuse in character. This is consistent with the general character of each of the words, as judged by the western mind, that is, the non-material, non-tangible though functional reality on which they focus – their essence.
September 15, 2010
Pneumatikos, pneumatikōs, anemos, pneō and pnoe
The adjective pneumatikos occurs 25 times in the New Testament, 14 of these being found in 1 Corinthians. On 13 occasions, it is used as a noun with the reference being to “matter”, “things” or “person(s) or something similar. Other usages relate to “gift”, “law”, “meat”, “drink”, “rock”, “body”, “blessing”, “songs”, “wisdom and understanding”, “house” and “sacrifices”. The adverb pneumatikōs occurs only twice. In almost all situations, the notion being referred to, by either adjective or adverb, seemed to be “spiritual” as opposed to “physical”. Often the contrast was quite stark, as in e.g. “spiritual gift”, “spiritual meat”, spiritual drink”, “spiritual rock”, “spiritual house” and “spiritual sacrifices”. The underlying sense seems to be that of a non-material, and to some extent, non-tangible functional reality.
The noun anemos occurs 29 times in the New Testament and always refers to a wind or winds, with one occurrence being metaphorical in nature. The verb pneō occurs 7 times and always refers to the blowing of a wind or winds. The noun pnoe occurs only twice. In one instance (Acts 17: 25) it refers to breath and this may also be the case with the other instance though that reference (Acts 2: 2) is commonly translated “wind”. With this last reference in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that pneuma is more commonly used for breath in the New Testament than pnoe.
September 12, 2010
All the major categories for ruach, except that of the ruach of animals – a relatively insignificant category, are reflected in those for pneuma. However, the category pneuma of the natural physical world was almost empty due in part to the Greek word anemos being available for the concept “wind”. The other main difference was the reversal of emphasis placed upon God and mankind. In the case of ruach, its association with mankind is far greater than its association with God. The reverse is true with respect to pneuma.
As with ruach, the most dominant minor category was that of the Pneuma of God at Work with the most significant of the sub-categories being that of the Pneuma of God coming upon, being filled, dwelling or being baptized with. Another significant sub-category was that of Situational with, benefit given by, consequential upon or conveyed by the Pneuma of God, with less significant sub-categories being the Pneuma of God for prophecy or proclamation and the Pneuma of God conveying wisdom, knowledge, perception or understanding. Pneuma, much more than ruach is associated with the being and character of God, the most common attribute being his holiness.
References to the pneuma of creatures were more frequent than those to the ruach of creatures, mainly due to the significant sub-category of evil spirits. The low population categories, the pneuma of the abstract and the ruach of the abstract were similar only in their being a reference to ‘experience’ in each.
The pneuma of mankind was mainly characterised by its sub-category – Mankind as being, with the sub-categories Mental Mankind and Moral Mankind contributing to a lesser extent. Pneuma is associated with Emotional Mankind to a greater extent than ruach is. It is only with respect to mankind that pneuma has the sense of breath. Even then, the usage is relatively uncommon.
In spite of these differences, and recognizing that there are alternative Greek words for “wind” and “breath”, pneuma is similar to ruach in terms of its fundamental character being that of the non-material, non-tangible, functional reality. As with ruach, pneuma has a semantic domain that overlaps with those for kardia and psuche but its main focus is different.
September 10, 2010
The Pneuma of Mankind
Table 13 indicates minor, sub- and mini-categories for the major category, the Pneuma of Mankind. [Mini-categories appear within square brackets, with totals immediately following.] There were 72 instances to which were added another 17 category items due to multiple classifications.
|Minor Category||Sub-category||Total Sub- category||Total Minor Category||% based on 89||% based on 72|
|The breath of Mankind||4||4||6|
|In association with life||1|
|Mankind as Being||39||44||54|
|An independent entity||17|
|[metaphorical – 3]|
|[actual – 14]|
|In association with life||8|
|In association with vitality||2|
|As the being or inner self||18|
|In a trance||4|
|Perspective, attitude or inclination||11|
|Thoughts, thinking or way of thinking||2|
|Wisdom, understanding or knowledge||2|
|Mankind and his Abilities||5||6||7|
|Strength of purpose||3|
Table 13 – The Pneuma of Mankind
Multiple classifications that occurred for the minor categories were in 11 different combinations none involving more than 3 instances. Ten instances of multiple classification occurred among the sub-category Mankind as Being, six different combinations being involved. There was one instance of multiple categorisation within the sub-category Mental Mankind.
September 8, 2010
The Pneuma of Creatures – neither Mankind nor Animals
Table 11 indicates the minor and sub-categories for the major category, the Pneuma of Creatures – neither Mankind nor Animals.
|Minor Category||Sub-category||Total Sub-category||Total Minor Category||% based on 58|
Table 11 – The Categorisation of the Pneuma of Creatures – neither Mankind nor Animals
The Pneuma of the Natural Physical World
There were only two instances, the sense being “wind”.
The Pneuma of the Abstract
Table 12 indicates the minor categories for the major category, the Pneuma of the Abstract.
|Total||% based on 19|
Table 12 – The Categorization of the Pneuma of the Abstract
September 6, 2010
The Pneuma of God
Table 10 indicates minor, sub- and mini-categories for the major category, the Pneuma (P) of God. [Mini-categories appear within square brackets, with totals immediately following.] There were 230 instances with an additional 96 category items due to multiple classifications.
|Minor Category||Sub-category||Total Sub- category||Total Minor Category||% Minor Category based on 326||% Minor Category based on 230|
|The breath of God||2||1||1|
|The P of God at work||205||63||89|
|The P of God who leads explicitly||12|
|The P of God conveying life||16|
|The P of God coming upon, being filled, dwelling or being baptized with||76|
|[Coming upon, being given, or being received – 42]|
|[Being filled with or being full of – 15]|
|[Dwelling, resting, remaining or taking possession of – 12]|
|[Being baptized with – 7]|
|The P of God conveying wisdom, knowledge, perception or understanding||25|
|The P from God conveying justice or righteousness||2|
|The P of God for prophecy or proclamation||31|
|The P of God conveying power||21|
|Situational with, benefit given by, consequential upon or conveyed by the P of God||62|
|[situational – 26]|
|[beneficial – 20]|
|[consequential – 14]|
|[conveying responsibility – 2]|
|The P of God – his being and character||108||33||47|
|[explicit – 92]|
|[implicit – 3]|
|Action taken against the P of God||11||3||5|
Table 10 – The Categorisation of the Pneuma of God
Category multiplications that occurred for the minor, sub- and mini-categories were in 26 different combinations the most common involving the Pneuma of God coming upon, being given or being received and the explicit Holiness of God – 16 instances and the Pneuma of God for prophecy or proclamation and the explicit Holiness of God – 9 instances. All other combinations involved 7 or fewer instances. All 92 instances of the explicit holiness of God were either duplicated or triplicated elsewhere. This was the single most common reason for the multiple classifications for pneuma in all its senses or contexts. There were 40 instances of multiple categorisation within the Pneuma of God at work and two within the Pneuma of God – his being and character. Concerning the Pneuma of God at work, 23 different combinations were involved, the most common involving Being filled with or being full of the Pneuma of God and the Pneuma of God for prophecy or proclamation – 5 instances and Being baptized with the Pneuma of God and the Pneuma of God conveying power – 6 instances.
September 5, 2010
The Categorisation of Pneuma in the New Testament
There are 372 instances of pneuma in the New Testament. In categorising 106 instances were duplicated, 32 were triplicated and two were quadrupled giving 548 category items. As with ruach, it was hoped that such multiple classifications would be few. However, the diffuseness of the use of pneuma, given the categorization scheme, made that difficult. A further problem was always the difficulty in understanding particular texts. For the major categories, there were only ten category multiplications.
Table 9 indicates the major categories in which the minor and sub-categories were developed. Unlike the situation with ruach, there were no instances of pneuma involving animals.
|Major Category||Total||% based on 382||% based on 372|
|The Pneuma of God||230||60||62|
|The Pneuma of creatures – neither Mankind nor Animals||59||15||16|
|The Pneuma of the Natural Physical World||2||1||1|
|The Pneuma of the Abstract||19||5||5|
|The Pneuma of Mankind||72||19||19|
Table 9 – The Categorisation of Pneuma
Category multiplications occurred among the major categories in 4 different combinations, the main one involving the Pneuma of God and the Pneuma of the abstract – 6 instances.
September 3, 2010
The word neshemah occurs 24 times in the Old Testament. Its most common meaning is that of “breath”. There seems to be five references to the breath of God and thirteen to the breath of man, most of which are in association with life. On two occasions, the neshemah of God might refer to his breath or the wind that comes from him, both in the context of judgment. On two occasions the neshemah of man might refer to his breath or his spirit, each text referring to speech. On one occasion the neshemah of God could refer to his spirit and on one occasion the neshemah of man might refer to a man’s spirit. The semantic field clearly overlaps with that of ruach. In five instances, ruach and nephesh appear in close association.
Ruach and the Greek Septuagint
To assist in determining what word or words in the Greek New Testament might have a similar function to ruach in the Old, the Greek Septuagint (LXX) version of the Old Testament was examined. The task was to see what Greek word or words commonly replaced ruach where it occurred in the Massoretic text. Table 8 outlines the findings. The % figures were based on totals of 385 and 381 – the latter % being in parentheses and relating to only those instances were the material of the Hebrew text was present in the Greek text.
|Matter in the Greek text in the place of ruach in the Hebrew text||Number of occurrences||% of all instances present in the Hebrew (% of all instances present in the Greek)|
|Textual material absent from the Greek text||4||1 (not applicable)|
|No Greek word but the meaning similar||9||2 (2)|
|anemos and the meaning similar||44||11 (12)|
|pnoe and the meaning similar||5||1 (1)|
|psuche or related words and the meaning similar||5||1 (1)|
|Other Greek words and the meaning similar||21||5 (6)|
|The texts contain different understandings||28||7 (7)|
Table 8 – The Replacement for Ruach in the LXX
The most common Greek word replacing the Hebrew word “ruach” is the word “pneuma”. The Greek language, having separate words for wind and breath, namely anemos and pnoe, respectively, often used these instead of pneuma. All other Greek words, with a similar meaning being conveyed to that of the Massoretic text, were used twice or less. There was one instance where kardia was used as a replacement. Whereas for leb/lebab and nephesh the LXX contained different understandings to that of the Massoretic text in 1% and 2 % of instances, respectively, the same situation occurred in 6% of the instances in the case of ruach. This may mean that for a Greek translator of antiquity, the word ruach was relatively more diffuse in use than either of the other two Hebrew words. Regardless, the overwhelming evidence suggests that pneuma is the appropriate word approaching equivalence to ruach, which needs to be examined in the New Testament, with the recognition that in the New Testament, anemos and pnoe might be the alternative words for wind and breath respectively.
As an additional check, an examination was made of all direct quotes in the New Testament of Old Testament texts where pneuma appeared in the New Testament. There were six instances in all and in each case ruach was the equivalent in the Massoretic text and pneuma was the equivalent in the LXX.