[B-Greek] Neuter Gender strips Personality, or not?

Vasileios Tsialas tsialas78 at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 17 19:54:23 EDT 2009

I understand that the topic of
the personhood of the holy spirit is sensitive for many because it is related with
dogma. My intention was from the beginning, and still is, not to quarrel with
anyone. But the insistence on the topic incites me to give some
clarifications as to what I said.


Dear Robert George and Mike, I think
that you have partly misunderstood what I said. Forgive me if I wasn't clear enough.


When I said that the most elementary
thing we have to take into account is "that the word 'spirit' is neuter and
means 'the thing blown, wind,'" I simply meant something self-evident for every
language lover, that, when we explore the semantic domain of a word, we have to
begin with the basic meaning of its grammatical form and etymology.


The etymology of PNEUMA, without
being conclusive by itself as regards the semantic domain, points to something
and not to someone. PNEUMA means the "thing
blown", and PNEUMA QEOU is "the thing blown by God".


As regards the gender, I didn't say that it can give any
conclusive evidence. As a Greek, I know first hand that in Greek neuter words
are used for persons, but at the same time I also know first hand what Wallace
means when he says: "The neuter usually refers to impersonal things
(including animals)".-Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, p. 399.


We all know, for instance, how gender could affect the
meaning of John 10:30.


I believe that the conclusive evidence as to
whether Christians considered the "holy spirit" a person or not cannot
be drawn from grammar but from the analysis of the history of the dogma
from the Jewish
heritage of the concept of "ruach Elohim" to the early Church until the
doctrine of the second Ecumenical Council in 381.

Vasileios Tsialas,

Athens, Greece

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