There is one thought on ““Upon the Wings of His Spirit”: A Note on Hebrew rûaḥ and 2 Nephi 4:25”.

  1. Thank you, Matthew. Big fan here. Great article

    However, my attention was caught when I read that Nephi’s description, “at minimum, constitutes evidence of the Spirit of the Lord is to be understood as referring to a personal, divine being, and not an abstract force.”

    I’m just supposing, but the Restoration scriptural cannon in general does not seem to suggest the Spirit as a personal divine being. Your conclusion here seems to be influenced by the current teaching that the Holy Ghost is a personage, and so you are reading back into the text of a personal being.
    The Spirit, as you say, is associated with breath and wind. In the Old and New Testament, it fills people. Later in the Book of Mormon, the Holy Ghost, completely synonymous with Holy Spirit, also fills people and groups of people. The Doctrine and Covenants connects spirit with light and describes how that light fills the immensity of space.
    At best, the connection to the Nephi 11, 14 Apocolypse of Abraham gives a clue that the Spirit of the Lord is a divine creature, like a heavenly beast or a cherub, as opposed to an anthropomorphic member of the Godhead. (we can agree that in an ancient and Restorationist context, the Spirit is not abstract, but material in some way)

    It seems more likely to me that the Spirit of Lord that Nephi talks to as a man speaks with another is not THE Spirit of the Lord but one that has the Spirit of the Lord, such as the Lord himself or one who bares his name.
    The doctrine of the Holy Ghost as an unborn spirit child of God only comes later in Joseph Smith’s life as far as I can tell (please let me know if I have blatantly missed something) and it was not given as a revelation, D&C 130 and all its complicated history of changes excluded.
    Now I do believe the current Church doctrine of the Holy Ghost, but this doctrine has changed in the history of the church and future revelation may add more clarity. To me, it’s clear that everything before D&C 130 describes the Spirit as a breadth, wind, or medium if you will.
    I wonder if any scholars have considered Joseph Smith’s later description of the Holy Ghost as appropriated to describe an actual spirit child of God, perhaps a higher-up in the divine council, who will be born someday, separate from the Spirit, light, and power of God that is commonly referenced in the scriptures. It would be an interesting study because it could help reconcile Joseph Smith’s teachings with current pneumatology.

    In short, I think you should reconsider the claim of the Spirit of the Lord as describing a personal divine being for the following reasons:
    1. Nephi’s ancient context, which did not consider the Spirit as being limited in space.
    2. The setup of a divine, personal being vs. an abstract force is a false dichotomy.
    3. You may be reading modern Latter-day Saint doctrines into your analysis.

    Anyway, if you have thoughts or corrections for me let me know. I appreciate all your work, including this paper! You have taught me a lot.

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

All comments are moderated to ensure respectful discourse. It is assumed that it is possible to disagree agreeably and intelligently and comments that intend to increase overall understanding are particularly encouraged. Individual authors are given the option to disallow commenting or end commenting after a certain period at their discretion.

Close this window

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This