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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Note (8.) to HS - "Is the Holy Spirit a Person, God or an Impersonal Force From God?"

Daniel B. Wallace, among the most trinity-biased scholars whose works I have examined, has made an amazing admission concerning the “paraclete statements.” In discussing gender agreement in his Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Wallace writes:

John 15:26 .... The use of ἐκεῖνος [‘that one,’ masc. is rendered ‘he’ in most translations] here is frequently regarded by students of the NT to be an affirmation of the personality of the Spirit. Such an approach is based on the assumption that the antecedent of ἐκεῖνος is πνεῦμα [‘Spirit’]: ‘The masculine pronoun ἐκεῖνος is used in John 14:26 and 16:13-14 to refer to the neuter noun πνεῦμα to emphasize the personality of the Holy Spirit.’ [Wallace’s footnote here refers this quote to Young, Intermediate Greek, 78, and others similar. He further says: ‘The view is especially popular among theologians, not infrequently becoming the mainstay in their argument for the personality of the Spirit.’]

But this is erroneous,” Wallace continues. “In all these Johannine passages, πνεῦμα is appositional to a masculine noun [‘paraclete,’ παράκλητος]. The gender of ἐκεῖνος [‘that one,' masculine] thus has nothing to do with the natural gender of πνεῦμα The antecedent of ἐκεῖνος , in each case, is παράκλητος [paraclete], not πνεῦμα. John 14:26 reads παράκλητος τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, [which,’ neuter] πέμψει πατὴρ ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι μου, ἐκεῖνος ὑμᾶς διδάξει πάντα (‘the Comforter, the Holy Spirit whom the Father sends in my name, that one will teach you all things’). πνεῦμα [‘Spirit’] not only is appositional παράκλητος, but the relative pronoun [ - ‘which’] that follows it is neuter! This hardly assists the grammatical argument for the Spirit’s personality. In John 16:13-14 the immediate context is deceptive: ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ ἐκεῖνος, τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, ὁδηγήσει ὑμᾶς ἐν τὴ ἀλήθεια πᾶσὴ· [….] ἐκεῖνος ἐμὲ δοξάσει (‘whenever that one comes - the Spirit of truth - he will guide you in all truth .... he will glorify me’). The ἐκεῖνος reaches back to v 7, where παράκλητος is mentioned. [Wallace’s note: ‘Although translations of v 13 such as that of the NRSV may be misleading as to what the subject of the sentence is (“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you...”), their objective is not to be a handbook for Greek students.’] Thus, since παράκλητος is masculine, so is the pronoun. Although one might argue that the Spirit’s personality is in view in these passages, the view must be based on the nature of a παράκλητος and the things said about the Comforter, not on any supposed grammatical subtleties. Indeed, it is difficult to find any text in which πνεῦμα is grammatically referred to with the masculine gender.*” - pp. 331-332.


Wallace’s note: “... three other passages are occasionally used for this [misapplication of gender interpretation to “prove” the HS is masculine]: Eph 1:14; 2 Thess 2:6-7; and 1 John 5:7, All of these have problems. In Eph 1:14 ὃς [‘he’] ἐστιν ἀρραβὼν refers back to τῷ πνεύματι (v 13), but the masculine relative pronoun [ὃς] is easily explained without resorting to seeing theological motifs. [Wallace further explains on p. 338 that ‘the reading ὃς ... is doubtful on text-critical grounds.’ In fact, both the Westcott & Hort and the United Bible Societies’ New Testament texts chose (‘which’) for this passage. The trinitarian scholars of the UBS said they chose ‘which’ because of ‘superior external attestation.’ This simply means that, in spite of their trinitarian preference, these scholars chose to use in their UBS text because the very best of the oldest NT Greek manuscripts originally had ‘which.’] In 2 Thess 2:6-7 πνεῦμα is nowhere mentioned .... First John 5:7 [in modern translations, e.g. RSV, NIV, NASB, etc.] is perhaps the most plausible of the passages enlisted. The masculine participle in τρεῖς εἰσιν οἱ μαρτυροῦντες refers to τὸ πνεῦμα καὶ τὸ ὕδωρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα (v 8), all neuter nouns. Some see this as an oblique reference to the Spirit’s personality ..., but the fact that the author has personified water and blood, turning them into witnesses along with the Spirit, may be enough to account for the masculine gender.” - p. 332, Zondervan, 1996.

So we find even trinitarian Daniel B. Wallace, known for his detailed defenses of the trinity, admitting that the grammatical use of gender agreement does not show that “the Holy Spirit is referred to as a Person in the masculine gender throughout the New Testament” as so many trinitarian apologists insist! In fact, the HS was never referred to as a Person in the masculine gender anywhere in the NT or the OT!

Note: As usual, I have added the words in brackets [ ], bolding, and/or underlining for emphasis.

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