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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

“It Is the Spirit That Gives Life”: A Stoic Understanding of Pneuma in John's Gospel
Buch-Hansen, Gitte

Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010 pp. xvii + 502. $182.00

Series Information
Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und Kunde der älteren Kirche, 173

Description: Since Origen and Chrysostom, John´s Gospel has been valued as the most spiritual among the New Testament writings. Although Origen recognizes the Stoic character of John´s statement that ""God is pneuma"" (4:24), an examination of the gospel in light of Stoic physics has not yet been carried out. Combining her insight into Stoic physics and ancient physiology, the author situates her thesis in the major discussions of modern Johannine scholarship - e.g. the role of the Baptist and the function of the Johannine signs - and demonstrates new solutions to well-known problems. The Stoic study of the Fourth Gospel reveals a coherent narrative tied together by the spirit. The problem with which John´s Gospel wrestles is not the identity of Jesus, but the transition from the Son of God to the next generation of divinely begotten children: how did it come about? A reading carried out from a Stoic perspective points to the translation of the risen body of Jesus into spirit as the decisive event. The provision of the spirit is a precondition of the divine generation of believers. Both events are explained by Stoic theory which allows of a transformation of fleshly elements into pneuma and of multiple fatherhood. In fact, in his Commentary on John, Origen described Jesus´ ascension as an event of anastoixeiôsis, which is the Stoic term for the transformation of heavily elements into lighter and pneumatic ones.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Johannine Literature, John, Literature

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Review by Cornelis Bennema
Published 4/17/2011
Citation: Cornelis Bennema, review of Gitte Buch-Hansen, “It Is the Spirit That Gives Life”: A Stoic Understanding of Pneuma in John's Gospel, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2011).

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