Texts for this semester

I’m taking The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit this semester, and we’re using two texts that are interestingly complementary.

Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective
Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective by Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen

As our professor pointed out, Kärkkäinen has a standard approach he takes to a variety of topic, so this is similar to the text I used last semester on ecclesiology: a survey of the topic from the perspective of various denominations, contemporary theologians, and (nearly the same, as it happens) global perspectives. In this case there’s a couple of additional chapters, on biblical foundations and on the history of pneumatology.

This book is in desperate need of a table of contents that goes down one more level of detail, similar to his ecclesiology book – I just skimmed the text so I could write one in. Oddly, his chapter on ecclesiastical (what I would call denominational) traditions omits Anglicans (the ecclesiology book does this too) and Methodists (particularly odd given Wesley’s “heart strangely warmed” conversion experience); and selects the Lutheran church as a representative of the Reformed tradition(??).

Although plenty of space is given to Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic perspectives, and some to ecumenical perspectives, I didn’t spot a discussion of the filioque clause. Maybe that’s due to his desire to emphasize experience and new perspectives, rather than rehashing thousand-year-old disagreements; or maybe I just missed it while skimming. I care a lot about this topic because it has been church-dividing; on the other hand, I’m already reasonably well informed about it.

I Believe in the Holy Spirit
I Believe in the Holy Spirit by Yves Congar

Our other text looks like it has an extremely detailed (albeit necessarily slightly dated) discussion of it… which, however, is not included in the syllabus!

The Congar text looks fabulous. It’s actually an omnibus edition of a three volume work, and extremely comprehensive. It starts with the biblical images of the Holy Spirit, and treats material as diverse as the historical East/West differences and the contemporary charismatic movement. I gather from one review that there are ecclesiological elements in it as well, which is a plus for me. We are reading almost all of it: everything but the extensive section on the filioque issue in Volume 3, and the discussion of the Middle Ages in the historical section in Volume 1.

My interest was particularly piqued by a section in the ToC on things that Roman Catholics tend to substitute for the Holy Spirit: a) the Pope, b) the eucharist, c) the Virgin Mary. This is consistent with, but broader than, some critique I’ve previously read about Catholics discussing Mary where Protestants would expect the Holy Spirit. Looking forward to that part, for sure!

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2 Responses to Texts for this semester

  1. Yeah, the Mary/Holy Spirit thing is definitely true. I’ve found a lot of Protestants increasingly start imagining the HS with feminine attributes (esp. as “the comforter”) when in traditions which undervalue Mary.

  2. Pingback: Zizioulas’ Pneumatology and Congar’s Spirit Substitutes | Gaudete Theology

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