I recently learned (thanks Daniel Isgrigg) that my PhD thesis “A Theology of the Spirit in the Former Prophets: A Pentecostal Perspective” is available free online through my doctoral alma mater: Bangor University, Wales. For those interested it can be read in whole HERE. An edited version of this work is due to be published within the year (under the same title) by CPT Press.
The following is the abstract:
This thesis works toward a constructive Pentecostal theology of the Spirit in the Former Prophets. Chapter one provides a history of interpretation (from 1896 to present) of major works engaging the Former Prophets with regard to the Spirit. Chapter two offers a Pentecostal hermeneutic of the Former Prophets. Chapter three provides a history of effects (or Wirkungsgeschichte) approach by hearing the Spirit texts of the Former Prophets alongside of early North American Pentecostals (specifically the journals from 1906-1920) in order to offer a better orientation to how Pentecostal communities have interpreted these texts in their formative years. Chapters four through seven apply the hermeneutic of chapter two to the groupings of texts of the Spirit in the Former Prophets. As such, the chapters that follow are larger literary units which include multiple references to the Spirit of Yahweh/God, but are grouped together as narratological units. Chapter four addresses the judges who explicitly experience the liberating Spirit of Yahweh. Chapter five addresses Saul and David’s musical and prophetic experiences of the Spirit of Yahweh/God both for good and ill. Chapter six addresses the ambiguities of the Spirit in the context of the prophet Micaiah. Chapter seven addresses the passing of the Spirit of true prophetic sonship from Elijah to Elisha. Chapter eight then attempts a constructive Pentecostal theology of the Spirit in light of the study of the Spirit in the Former Prophets laid out in the preceding exegetical chapters and the Wirkungsgeschichte of chapter three. Finally, the concluding chapter briefly summarizes the contributions of this study and entertains multiple potential directions for future study brought to light through this study.
I just submitted my proposal for the Society for Pentecostal Studies 2016 meeting in San Dimas, California (most excellent, dudes!) which is broadly themed “Worship, the Arts, and the Spirit”.
I am hoping my proposal gets accepted as in most previous years. I’ve titled my paper (which will end up as a part of my PhD thesis) “When Prophets Play the Lyre: Saul and the Strings of the Spirit”.
Here is my summary that I submitted (which is always fun to write when NONE of the paper has been written yet 🙂 ):
A recurring notion in 1 Samuel (chapters 10, 16, 18-19) appears to highlight the relation of King Saul to the Spirit, prophesying and the playing of the lyre. Saul initially receives the Spirit of the LORD and begins to prophesy as predicted by Samuel once Saul hears the music of the prophets at Gibeah. Later, the Spirit of the LORD departs from Saul and comes upon David. With the departure of the Spirit of the LORD a “troubling spirit of God” comes upon Saul causing sudden violent outbreaks. The only relief from the troubling spirit is the music of Spirit-endowed David on the lyre. Further, the “prophets prophesying” appears to function musically throughout this literary unit including with the overcoming of Saul twice to “prophesy” when encountering a group of prophets prophesying (in the first instance explicitly with music and suggestive in the second). A literary and theological interpretation of the relevant texts is offered for discerning the role of the Spirit in the instrumentation of the prophets in 1 Samuel with several proposed implications for Pentecostal practice.
While it is assumed among scholarship that the “double portion” which Elisha requests of Elijah refers to the portion of the eldest son (following Deuteronomistic law), it is proposed in this paper that this is theologically significant to demonstrate Elisha as the true son of Elijah as prophet of Yahweh in contrast to the other “sons of the prophets” in the Former Prophets. This motif is followed in the stories of Elisha as he fulfills the prophetic call earlier given to Elijah as Horeb, knows and does what the “sons of the prophets” cannot do themselves, and functions as a new Elijah in the paneling accounts and images. The role of Spirit endowment as verification of elder sonship is followed as a theological trajectory of the Former Prophets.
Prepping for lectures this coming week on the books of Samuel, I returned again to an article by Robin Routledge (Academic Dean of Mattersey Hall; Author of the well-received Old Testament Theology: A Thematic Approach) entitled, “‘An Evil Spirit from the Lord’ — Demonic Influence or Divine Instrument?” (Ev.Q. 70.1 [Jan-Mar 1998]: 3-22). His discussion of the connections (and disjuncture) between the Testaments concerning “evil” spirits offers potential direction in the development of a biblical demonology (or perhaps a more broadly conceived pneumatology).
I find his own proposal at least more satisfactory than Hermann Gunkel’s proposal about there really only being “spirit” (whether good or “evil” being regarded as secondary) in the OT.* Though, the distinguish-ability of רוּחַ (ruach) in the Hebrew Scriptures is certainly not always an easy task. Nor is it made more simple by the descriptive רָעָה (ra’ah) often rendered “evil” or “troubling” in connection with the S/spirit (1 Sam.16:14-16, 23; 18:10; 19:9; cf. Judges 9:23; 1 Kings 22:22).
I can appreciate Dr. Routledge’s proposal to read the NT “against the background of the Old” in order to potentially gain a “proper understanding of the Biblical whole” (3). Essentially, his argumentation boils down to ANE perspectives on the “divine assembly” in relation to the Israelite appropriation of such and thus allows for a multiplicity of “spirits” in the realm of the God of Israel. He extrapolates that this line of reasoning may in fact be conducive to a better understanding of the the inter-relation of Old and New Testaments on the issue of the “evil” and “unclean” spirit/s.
Here’s the Abstract on Routledge’s article:
This article considers two important questions raised by 1 Sa. 16:14, namely what does the OT understand by the term ‘evil spirit’, and, what is the relationship between such spirits and Yahweh? Although demons come to prominence in later Rabbinic writings, the OT accepts the existence of supernatural beings, good and evil and of a heavenly assembly, presided over by Yahweh, to which all such beings may have access. This suggestion, that the scope of the divine assembly is much more comprehensive than is sometimes envisaged, points to Yahweh’s control over evil spiritual beings and their instrumentality in the fulfilment of the divine purpose. The moral question this raises is given some consideration, and the consistency between Old and New Testaments is noted.