[B-Greek] Absent Definite Article strips Personality from The Holy Spirit

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Tue Jun 16 00:59:47 EDT 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Elizabeth Kline" <kline_dekooning at earthlink.net>
To: "greek B-Greek" <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: 16. juni 2009 00:56
Subject: Re: [B-Greek] Absent Definite Article strips Personality from TheHoly 

> On Jun 15, 2009, at 11:35 AM, Elizabeth Kline wrote:
>> A brief review of the presence/absence of the article with QEOS in
>> comparison to PNEUMA in the GNT doesn't reveal any substantial
>> differences. QEOS as  PNEUMA has referential ambiguity in the GNT.
>> QEOS is used frequently without the article. Any argument about PNEUMA
>> without the article might also be applied to QEOS.  G.Cooper[1]
>> p.397 states "(hO) QEOS God and (hO) ANQROPOS are conceptions
>> both personal and generic. Therefore with them a conflict is set up
>> between the usage natural for proper nouns, i.e. omission of the
>> article, and that natural for generically conceived individuals, i.e.
>> use of the article. As a result the article is used, or omitted,
>> usually though not always without any distinction."
>> The way I read Cooper, any attempt to tie the article with QEOS to
>> notions like personal/impersonal fails before it gets started.
>> Elizabeth Kline
>> [1] G.Cooper (Greek Syntax, four volumes) devotes 200 pages (v.1 & v.
>> 3) to discussion and illustration of the greek article.

> A passage worth contemplating is Matt 3:16
> Matt. 3:16 βαπτισθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εὐθὺς
> ἀνέβη ἀπὸ τοῦ ὕδατος· καὶ ἰδοὺ
> ἠνεῴχθησαν [αὐτῷ] οἱ οὐρανοί, καὶ
> εἶδεν [τὸ] πνεῦμα [τοῦ] θεοῦ
> καταβαῖνον ὡσεὶ περιστερὰν [καὶ]
> ἐρχόμενον ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν·
> The brackets [TO] PNEUMA [TOU] QEOU indicate the lack of the articles
> in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus. The parallel accounts in the other
> gospels have the article. Did Sinaiticus and Vaticanus omit the
> article? Didn't these scribes know how to read Greek? Didn't they
> understand that the lack of the article here completely changes the
> meaning of this text?

I suppose you are being sarcastic here?
When Cooper can use 200 pages to discuss the usage of the article, it shows that 
it is a complex issue. However, it has nothing to do with the personality. It is 
related to definiteness and uniqueness, which is better treated under discourse 
and pragmatics. If you only look at the syntax, you cannot perceive the subtle 
distinctions. If your quote "As a result the article is used, or omitted, 
usually though not always without any distinction" is Cooper's conclusion, it 
looks like even his 200 pages are inadequate. I don't know who Cooper is, but I 
assume he wrote before the advent of discourse linguistics.
Usually, when it is part of a genitive construction, there is no article, since 
the genitive in itself supplies a certain definiteness and uniqueness. (Consider 
also in English the difference between "the Spirit of God" and "God's Spirit" Is 
the Spirit of the first more personal, because it has the article?).

It is useful to compare the instance of PNEUMA QEOU with TO PNEUMA TOU QEOU in 
the GNT. As far as I can tell, the form without article is used when it is clear 
from context that the Spirit of God is being referred to and there is no 
particular focus on God's Spirit as opposed to any other spirit.

Paul uses both, but the form with article only in 1 Cor 2:11, 12, 14; 3:16; 
6:11.  In 2:11 TO PNEUMA TOU QEOU is compared to and contrasted with TO PNEUMA 
TOU ANQRWPOU. In 2:12 the contrast is to TO PNEUMA TOU KOSMOU. The whole section 
deals with such contrasts between human/worldly spirits and God's Spirit.
In 3:16-17 the topic is the temple/sanctuary of God, and only one Spirit should 
live there, namely God's Spirit.

1 John 4:2 also has the definite and unique TO PNEUMA TOU QEOU, because he is 
contrasting God's Spirit with many other, false spirits.

Iver Larsen

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