Acts 2:4, the article with the/a holy spirit

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dmacbanay
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Joined: January 17th, 2012, 7:14 pm

Acts 2:4, the article with the/a holy spirit

Post by dmacbanay » January 19th, 2012, 7:05 pm

I've found this discussion about the use of the article with name very interesting. I have a question for you all related to this. I've recently been reading from a translation by Charles Thomson from the early 1800's (http://thetencommandmentsministry.us/mi ... s_thomson/). The one thing I've noticed is that where there is no article when referring to the Holy Spirit he translates it as "a holy spirit". One example would be in Acts 2:4 where it reads, "και επλησθησαν απαντες πνευματος αγιου," he has it translated as, "And they were all filled with a holy spirit." What would you all consider to be correct and why?
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timothy_p_mcmahon
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Re: Acts 2:4, the article with the/a holy spirit

Post by timothy_p_mcmahon » January 20th, 2012, 12:58 am

This question probably ventures more deeply into theology than is appropriate for B-Greek, but I would answer with a resounding NO.

The use of the article is quite complex and no two languages — e.g., Greek and English — use the article identically.

Thomson's underlying idea presumably is that there's some sort of one-to-one correspondence between the original biblical writings and the ideal English translation, but that assumes that language is some sort of formula and translation consists of substituting a word in the target language for a word in the original, like two sets of Tinkertoys.

Translation is at least as much art as it is science.

I'd chuck Thomson into the round file.
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David Lim
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Re: Acts 2:4, the article with the/a holy spirit

Post by David Lim » January 20th, 2012, 5:36 am

timothy_p_mcmahon wrote:This question probably ventures more deeply into theology than is appropriate for B-Greek, but I would answer with a resounding NO.

The use of the article is quite complex and no two languages — e.g., Greek and English — use the article identically.
Agreed that the answer is no, but it is not at all because of the usage of the article. In this case it appears that "πνευμα αγιον" would originally have meant "holy spirit" or "holy breath" or "a holy spirit" in Greek, which is not definite. However, it was always used in the LXX referring to "the holy breath of God", apparently for the reason that obviously no other "spirit" was considered holy except God's, so "πνευμα αγιον" in that context was essentially as definite as "το πνευμα το αγιον". In any case, if you really translate every occurrence of "πνευμα αγιον" in both the Septuagint and the new testament with "holy spirit/breath", you will find instances where it is clearly definite, and therefore it means that such a translation is not so accurate after all, because proper English requires "the".
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James Ernest
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Re: Acts 2:4, the article with the/a holy spirit

Post by James Ernest » January 20th, 2012, 10:45 am

If you have the time and are interested, you might check out some earlier B-greekers on this question: Athenasius of Alexandria, Epistulae ad Serapionem de Spiritu Sancto; Basil of Caesarea, De Spiritu Sancto. Sorry I don't have time to locate for you specific passages where the discuss the use of the article.
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