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The Spirit in the Gospels and Acts: Divine Purity and Power [Hardcover]

By Craig S. Keener (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   304
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.32" Width: 6.37" Height: 1.14"
Weight:   1.32 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 31, 1997
Publisher   Hendrickson Publishers
ISBN  1565631692  
EAN  9781565631694  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Keener presents two categories of Jewish understanding of the Holy Spirit: purity and prophecy. From these two fundamental streams, other tributaries flow: supernatural knowledge, traditional prophecy, insights into the divine plan of Scripture. Early Christianity appropriated, modified, and utilized these Jewish categories for understanding the work of the Holy Spirit. The continuity and contrast between Judaism and early Christianity's understanding of the Holy Spirit must be acknowledged and examined. Craig Keener argues forcibly, and with the weight of much primary material in his favor, that early Christian experience centered around the Holy Spirit. Keener examines carefully the New Testament Gospels and the book of Acts in an effort to provide us with a fuller understanding of what the Holy Spirit meant in the life of the early believers. We are rewarded by his efforts with perhaps the most detailed study of the Holy Spirit in the Gospels and Acts in light of the ancient evidence of the religious world in which these texts emerged. Keener's grasp of the relevant ancient literature is both impressive and illuminating. Christianity did not arise in a vacuum, and by understanding the world in which it emerged we can better understand the earliest believers' experience of God's empowering and purifying Spirit.

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More About Craig S. Keener

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Craig S. Keener is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. His many other books include The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary and The Historical Jesus of the Gospels.

Craig S. Keener was born in 1960.

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Product Categories
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Thorough study of the spirit  Aug 2, 2000
Craig Keener has an interesting approach to the study of the Spirit in both the Gospels and Acts. Rather than doing a complete survey of Spirit in the Graeco-Roman world Keener confined his study to Jewish literature (Rabbinical and Qumramic). This focus was based on his belief that the Gospel writers were highly influenced by Jewish culture and literature. The church became a group that struggled with a concept of the Holy Spirit in a culture that believed the Spirit to be involved in purifying Israel and inspiring prophecy.

Keener began with the assumption that the concept of the Spirit in Judaism was not limited to ecstatic activity, as in other cultures, but prophecy. The canonization of the scriptures indicated the belief that the Spirit was no longer inspiring the leaders of Israel. The Spirit was also believed to be the purifying element that would unite and restore the kingdom of Israel.

Keener then explored three of the Gospels and flushed out this theme of purification and prophecy. In the Marcan account Jesus became the announcement of the kingdom as the church shared in His work, suffering, and miracles in baptism. The emphasis on the power and miracles of Jesus was the writer's attempt to validate early Christian preaching as prophetic and inspired. Matthew's account, following Q and Mark, added to Mark's thesis of the power of the Spirit. The Spirit was also shown as a prophetic agent in the gospel. This is indicated during the revelation at John's baptism, the sending out and authority of the apostles, Jesus as the servant (Matt. 12:17-21), and opposition as blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Keener wrote that the Spirit defined Jesus' mission as God's servant illustrating the prophetic role of the Spirit.

Keener believed that John's focus was the Spirit of purification. The comparison between water and Spirit was examined in the "dialogue with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, beggar at Bethesda, the blind man washing in the pool, and the feast of Succoth (7:37). True spiritual purification came by the spirit-one who encountered and came to know Jesus. John also indicated that Jesus was the "better purifier" in the stories of the water to wine and living water of Jacob's well.

He also discussed the Spirit in Luke's Pentecost account (Acts 1-2). Keener wrote that the Pentecost event (baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues) was a manifestation of the Spirit's prophetic role in Jewish thought. The differences in Joel 4:1 [MT] (after those days) and Acts 2:17 (in the last days) indicate that the Spirit in Acts came to inspire the church to fulfill their prophetic role. The sharing of material possessions among the Christians and communal lifestyle also indicated that the church was the restored community of Israel. This theme was carried throughout Acts as seen in the preaching of the Christian leaders.

Keener concluded that the Spirit was seen by the Gospel writers as inspiring the church prophetically. This characteristic is evident in the polemic and apologetic character of early Christian preaching. The church was called to share in the suffering of Jesus indicating a "pneumatic experience in the shadow of the cross." The writers also saw the Spirit as a purifier in the church, a Jewish community in crisis. The "True Spirit of God points to Jesus."

I feel that this book is an excellent resource for anyone wishing to study the Gospels, the Spirit, and/or early Christology. I also believe that this book can be read on three levels. First, an initial reading gives one a new or deeper perspective on prophecy, pneumatology, and early church preaching. This is a great introduction for one preaching on the Gospels or Acts. A second reading and study could involve tracing Jewish pneumatology and Old Testament theology to gain a better understanding in teaching the prophetic books with the Gospels. A third reading could involve researching the Rabbinical and Qumram texts in order to do deeper scholarly work. I think that this book is a handy reference, commentary, and historical book for Biblical studies. It has tremendous value for the student, preacher, and scholar. It also speaks to those in the Stone-Campbell Movement-one that has traditionally focused on "inspiration issues" in Christological and Pneumatic studies.

The weaknesses of this book are minor. I noticed that Keener places a tremendous amount of focus on the Rabbinical writings. There is much dispute about the validity, integrity, and date of many of these texts but I think that more research in this area will add to this book. I would also have liked to see Keener develop more of Luke's theology in that Gospel as well as the missionary journeys of Acts.

Study of the Spirit in Rabbinics, Judaism, and Christianity.  Dec 31, 1998
Keener does an excellent comparison of the view of the Holy Spirit in Judaism, Rabbinics, and the early church. He begins by overviewing the view of the Spirit's work in Rabbinical literature. The literature indicates that the spirit had two functions: purification and prophetic (inspiration). He then approaches three of the Gospels (Matt., Mark, and John) and Acts with the two distinct functions. The role of the Holy Spirit in the Gospels was to indicate that Jesus was the purifier of the Jewish faith and the inspired word of God.

A more detailed review can be read in the Stone-Campbell Journal's upcoming issue.

Ron Clark


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