Barry Newman's Blog

September 12, 2010

The Essence of Spirit (XIII)

Filed under: Spirit — barrynewman @ 9:09 am

General Discussion

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.


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