Pneumatological Expansion

Anthony Briggman

in Irenaeus of Lyons and the Theology of the Holy Spirit

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199641536
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738302 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Pneumatological Expansion

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The third book of Against Heresies exhibits a multi-faceted and insightful conception of the identity and activity of the Holy Spirit that shows Irenaeus to have progressed far beyond his predecessors and contemporaries alike, and even his own thought in AH 1 & 2. Indeed, the pneumatological account in AH 3 supersedes that of AH 1 & 2 by so large a degree that it may be best to regard his reasoning in the first two Books as the most advanced theology of the Spirit of the previous generation, and to regard the reasoning we find in AH 3 as the beginning of the most complex expression of Jewish-Christian pneumatology to be constructed.Some aspects of the pneumatology we find here will play a considerable role in the pneumatological themes addressed later in this study. Some are important, even foundational to Irenaeus’ broader theology and polemic, but are relatively less important to his pneumatology itself. This present chapter will examine those features of his theology of the Spirit in AH 3 that are less relevant to his later pneumatological development and our particular examination of it.This chapter examines Irenaeus’ argument that beginning at Pentecost the Holy Spirit governs the preservation and spread of the Gospel message. The Spirit perfects the knowledge of the authors of Scripture and affects the harmony of the Gospels, thereby rendering them meaningful. In addition, Irenaeus associates the Spirit with wings in order to convey the Spirit's protection of the church, prophetic activity, and the renewal of humanity by means of the Gospel through the agency of the Spirit.

Keywords: Holy Spirit; Pentecost; perfect knowledge; Gospel message; harmony of the Gospels; wings; protection of the church; prophetic activity; renewal of humanity

Chapter.  6604 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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