Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Systematic Theology

First Advisor

Joel Okamoto

Scripture References in this Resource

1 Kings 19:16; 1 Kings 22:21-22; 1 Samuel 15:1, 17; 2 Peter 1:21; 2 Samuel 23:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Acts 7:51; Acts 7:55-56; Colossians 3:17; Daniel 7:10; Daniel 7:14; Deuteronomy 32:11; Deuteronomy 9:10; Ephesians 5:20; Exodus 28:3; Exodus 30:26; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 6:9; Exodus 8:15; Ezekiel 11:19; Ezekiel 13:2-3; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Genesis 1:2; Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22; Genesis 41:8; Genesis 6:3; Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 22:1,17; Isaiah 31:3; Isaiah 44:3ff; Isaiah 48:16; Isaiah 6:3; Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 63:10; Isaiah 63:11; Jeremiah 23:16; John 16:13; Leviticus 8:12; Luke 12:8-9; Mark 8:38; Matthew 16:27; Matthew 28:18-19; Nehemiah 9:20; Numbers 6:24-26; Psalm 104; Psalm 51:11; Psalm110:1; Psalm72:6, 7; Revelation 3:5; Romans 1:8; Zechariah 12:10


In this thesis, I will survey the story of the Spirit of God in the pages of the Old Testament, in the salvation of God's people in their creation, their sustenance and their preservation until the gift of the promised Spirit-bearer, Jesus of Nazareth, i.e., an economic Spirit. We will examine the Hebrew word for Spirit, ruach, and will see how a concept which represents wind and breath is actually very substantive in meaning. I will briefly survey metaphors and symbols used of the Spirit to deepen our perception of the Spirit. We will see how the Spirit was active in the creation of this world and how he actively sustains all life, spiritual and physical. This understanding will help us counteract gnostic, platonic attitudes towards the physical world or the inappropriate dichotomizing of our worldview. Then, and only then, can we more fully embrace the Spirit's gifts: life, arts, knowledge, beauty, etc.

Before proceeding to the specifics in the Old Testament, I will survey early pneumatological heresies, focusing on Arianism, which led the church from its worship of the Spirit for what he did for them to worshiping the Spirit for what he is. I will then touch on criticisms of pneumatological theological history (including the inability of the church fathers to accept a suffering God) which led to theological gymnastics, marginalizing the Persons of the Trinity by negating their uniqueness. This negation is still the case today and is taught as dogma in reformation circles. Augustine and Aquinas were two theologians who had great influence on the Western church but whose approach to the Trinity helped solidify the irrelevance of an ontological Trinity. The Reformation began to reverse this trend, but when confronted with the damaging doctrine of the Enthusiasts, emphasized dogma on biblical authority over the economic Trinity. This section will end with a look at the intriguing concept of the kenosis of the Spirit. It will be helpful in giving us some explanation of why we have difficulty 'picturing ‘or comprehending the Spirit of God more than the Father or the Son.

I will end with a study of Jiirgen Moltmann's pneumatology, a pneumatology which will bring this Old Testament-based discussion of the economic Trinity into the present day. Moltmann uses the Spirit's creative activity to explain how God can and indeed does suffer for his creation. He uses the presence of God's Shekinah glory to provide evidence to Jews that the Spirit is a person of the Godhead. He also uses Jewish reverence for the word of the Lord combined with the Shekinah to demonstrate evidence of the Trinity in the Old Testament. Ultimately and profoundly, he ties all of these concepts to the cross.


For the theologian, I have several goals for this thesis: a greater interest in the Old Testament, and not only as it relates to Christ; a richer, economic understanding of the Spirit of God which may shed light on our practice and views today; and, perhaps most ambitiously, to influence to some degree how the Spirit of God and the Trinity is referred to and taught about. For the layperson, just as a knowledge of Christ's work gives us great joy, peace and hope, soot will a knowledge of the depth and the breadth of the Spirit's work from the very beginning of history to the present, and the hope of that same work continuing into the age to come. Our worship, not only of the Spirit but of the entire Godhead, will be deepened as our understanding of what the Spirit does for us is realized.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.