Justin Cofer wrote:
Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄνθρωπος ἦν ἐν Ἰερουσαλὴμ ᾧ ὄνομα Συμεὼν καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος καὶ εὐλαβὴς προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, καὶ πνεῦμα ἦν ἅγιον ἐπʼ αὐτόν·
I am particularly intrigued by the word order in the clause καὶ πνεῦμα ἦν ἅγιον and its potential significance.
Well, the whole clause is καὶ πνεῦμα ἦν ἅγιον ἐπʼ αὐτόν -- don't forget the prepositional phrase.
This is one of those cases where I think the word order would be ambiguous without hearing how it was spoken. As words on the page, there are a couple of possibilities and we have to chose the option that would seem to be most relevant to the context.
With somewhat ordinary prosody and no special emphasis, one's first impression could be that πνεῦμα is the subject and ἦν ἅγιον ἐπʼ αὐτόν is the predicate, as if to say: "and a spirit was holy upon him." But I doubt strongly this is the best option. It is fairly unusual in the same clause to introduce a new participant and to predicate something upon it. Furthermore, it is not clear what this spirit is.
It seems more likely to me that the focus is on the Holy Spirit, which is corroborated by its fronted position and its lack of the article for this definite referent. The light verb ἦν would be deaccented by comparison and, as a result, float to the second position in the clause after the emphatic πνεῦμα and splitting the constitutent πνεῦμα ... ἅγιον. Greek is one those languages that permits discontinuous contsitutents, so there's no problem with it. Thus, to respect this understanding of the clause, I would render in English as either "and upon him was the Holy Spirit" because the default focus position for English is at the end of the clause, or as "and the Holy Spirit was upon him" as with most translations, but the reader has to put the sentence stress on "Spirit" when reading it aloud.
Stephen C. Carlson, Ph.D. (Duke)
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Faculty of Theology, Uppsala