[B-Greek] EN PNEUMATI in Revelations 1:20, 4:2

Barry H. nebarry at verizon.net
Fri Jun 17 08:00:24 EDT 2011

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Alan King" <alanrking at yahoo.com>
To: <b-greek at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Friday, June 10, 2011 4:55 AM
Subject: [B-Greek] EN PNEUMATI in Revelations 1:20, 4:2

Alan, this list is about to shut down -- we are in the last stage of moving 
to a forum format:


If you haven't already done so, subscribe there, and then post your question 
under the appropriate category.

> This is my first post to this list. I am translating the NT directly from 
> the Greek source to an indigenous language of Latin America (more at 
> http://nebibliaj.org). My concern is to produce a literary translation 
> that is as objectively accurate as possible from all viewpoints. My 
> interest is philological; I am not working with any theological agenda.
> I am wondering what is meant by EN PNEUMATI in Revelations: does it refer 
> to (a) the PNEUMA hAGION or is it (b) simply describing the writer's state 
> of mind?
> These are not the same thing and I remain unimpressed by the argument that 
> it can be both at the same time since the Holy Ghost can induce a given 
> state of mind in a person if it wants to. That is besides the point, what 
> is the point is what the text is saying (not what it might possibly 
> entail): (a), (b), (a+b) or (a OR b indifferently)? Gratuitously claiming 
> either (a+b) or (a OR b) without supporting evidence (of which I see none) 
> looks like a cop-out that doesn't objectively answer the question.
> The English translations I have looked at unanymously give "in the Spirit" 
> (definite article, capital S) which means they lean unambiguously to (a). 
> Both the context and the anarthrous Greek construction seem to me rather 
> to suggest (b). Hence the translators seem to have gone against the grain 
> of the prima facie textual evidence, for reasons that they know best. 
> Comparison with the rest of the NT corpus is perhaps not entirely 
> conclusive but one rather suspects that if the writer had meant (a) he 
> would have been far more likely to have written EN TWi PNEUMATI or else, 
> of course, EN TWi PNEUMATI hAGIWi, which he plainly didn't - on both of 
> the occasions in question!
> The context in both instances definitely strongly suggests that in the 
> situations referred to we are meant to understand that an abnormal state 
> of the narrator's mind did indeed occur - whether or not that is the sense 
> conveyed by the expression EN PNEUMATI there. So pragmatically the 
> question boils down to whether or not the text is explicitly stating that 
> the PNEUMA hAGION was involved. I cannot see that it is doing that, but I 
> would welcome hearing any viewpoints that suggest the opposite (preferably 
> arguments not tied to theological a prioris, obviously).
> I am puzzled by the English translators' dogged adherence to "in the 
> Spirit". After all, "in spirit" is a perfectly good English expression 
> and, as it happens, even a literal match as well as a decently close 
> semantic one to what seems to be in the Greek. I can see that the Latin is 
> ambiguous and would leave the door wide open to either option, and perhaps 
> a tradition grew up involving the "other" possible meaning of IN SPIRITU 
> which subsequently nobody has dared to defy? That's just a guess.

You mean Rev 1:10, right?

As has often been pointed out, the Greek of Revelation is sufficiently 
idiosyncratic that one has to be extra-careful and cautious concerning one's 
conclusions about the text.  However, in general, it is very common to omit 
the article with nouns in the NT when EN is used instrumentally or, as in 
this case, of manner.  Simply do a search on the phrase, and see how many 
are unambiguously used of the Holy Spirit.  Even those that are not show the 
tendency to omit the article.

BTW, since Latin has no article, definite or indefinite, it's not really a 
huge help in resolving issues like this...  :)

On a hermeneutical level, I'm not sure what "in spirit" would mean in the 
contexts cited above.

&` Matt 3:11
&` Matt 12:28
&` Matt 22:43
&` Mark 1:8
&` Mark 1:23
&` Mark 5:2
&` Luke 1:17
&` Luke 3:16
&` John 1:33
&` John 4:23
&` John 4:24
&` Acts 1:5
&` Acts 11:16
&` Romans 2:29
&` Romans 8:9
&` Romans 9:1
&` Romans 14:17
&` Romans 15:16
&` 1Cor 12:3
&` 1Cor 12:3
&` 1Cor 12:9
&` 1Cor 12:13
&` 1Cor 14:16
&` 2Cor 6:6
&` Gal 3:3
&` Gal 5:25
&` Gal 6:1
&` Eph 2:18
&` Eph 2:22
&` Eph 3:5
&` Eph 5:18
&` Eph 6:18
&` Phil 1:27
&` Col 1:8
&` 1Thess 1:5
&` 1Tim 3:16
&` 1Peter 1:12
&` 1Peter 2:5
&` Jude 1:20
&` Rev 1:10
&` Rev 4:2
&` Rev 17:3
&` Rev 21:10
&` 43 matches in AGNT

N.E. Barry Hofstetter, semper melius Latine sonat...
(2010 Salvatori Excellence in Education Winner)
The North American Reformed Seminary


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