Your soul is the ship, the Holy Spirit is the wind; he blows into your will and your soul goes forward…
—Fr. Francis Libermann, cofounder of the order C.S.Sp (Congregation of the Holy Spirit–Spiritans*).
Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
—Psalm 51 (KJV)
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
—John 14:26 (KJV)
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life,..
—Nicene Creed, Anglican Usage Liturgy.
More than four years ago I posted an article on Catholic Stand, “The Holy Ghost vs The Holy Spirit.” The post got a huge number of hits (for this blog and my articles). I’m not trying to repeat that performance, but rather to offer some thoughts I’ve had since then. They’ve been stirred up by attendance at an Anglican Usage (“Ordinariate”) parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania and by the almost exclusive use of the term “Holy Ghost”, rather than “Holy Spirit” by a priest (order of St. Francis de Sales), who has become Chaplain at a local Catholic Nursing Home. I’ll copy the pertinent parts of the original post and then focus on the Anglican Usage liturgy usage of “Holy Ghost”.
HOLY GHOST / HOLY SPIRIT, OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS
Why “Holy Ghost” rather than “Holy Spirit”? Does the answer lies in a shunning of the Old Testament (see my earlier post “Should we shun the God of the Old Testament? “and Paul Sumner’s Hebrew Streams)? Or do the two terms actually mean the same, if one does the etymology? To answer these questions, let’s do a dry, academic-type inquiry into Biblical language.
Going first to the original languages, Hebrew and New Testament Greek, we find the following. The Hebrew word for “spirit” is ruach, which also can mean breath or wind. In the Hebrew Old Testament it occurs a number of times, for example in Genesis 1:2, “ruach Elohim (breath of the Lord or wind of the Lord) hovering over the waters”, Isaiah 44:3, “I will pour out my ruach (spirit, wind, breath) on thy seed”, or Psalm 104:30, “Thou sendest forth thy ruach, they are created and Thou renewest the face of the earth. In conjunction with the modifier kodesh (holy, as from God) it occurs in Psalm 51:11, “take not thy ruach kodesh (Holy Spirit) from me.” and twice in Isaiah 63. Note in the quotation from the King James Version at the beginning, that “holy spirit” is not capitalized. In the Septuagint, the demotic Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Hebrew ruach is universally translated as the Greek pneuma (breath, wind, spirit).
In the Greek New Testament, only the term “pneuma” (in its various grammatical forms) is used for “Spirit”. The King James Version uses “Holy Ghost” where it is clear that the Third Person of the Trinity is meant, e.g. Matthew 1:18, “ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου” (found [with child] of the Holy Ghost–KJV). In other contexts, pneuma is translated as Spirit: Matthew 10:20: “ἀλλὰ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ πατρὸς” ([For it is not you who speak] but the Spirit of your Father–KJV). In some places where spirit, but not the spirit of God or the Holy Spirit is meant, pneuma is translated as spirit (not capitalized) –see Thayer’s Greek Lexicon.
In the Latin Vulgate “Holy Spirit” is translated as “Spiritus Sanctus”, in French, “the Holy Spirit” is “le Saint-Esprit“, and in German, “der Heilige Geist“. The last might be the clue to the origins of “Holy Ghost”. The King James Version was not the first English Scripture translation to use the term “Holy Ghost” for the Third Person of the Trinity, although it was the first to distinguish various contexts of “spirit” by capitalization. In the Wycliffe translation (1395) there is “sche was founde hauynge of the holy goost in the wombe” (Matt 1:18, The Bible Corner). (Note the lack of capitalization of “holy goost”.)
Now certainly “ghost” in the scriptural context does not mean a phantasm, the spirit or appearance of a dead person. My conjecture is that ghost (or “goost”) came from an Anglo-Saxon form for “spirit”, related to the German “Geist“. The translators were looking for a way to distinguish the Third Person of the Trinity, from the manifestation of God–his breath, his will–given in the Old Testament.
I don’t see a rejection of the Old Testament in the attempt to distinguish between the Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost. We should note that it took some time for the Patristic Fathers to work out that the Trinity was three persons, but one God. The Old Testament foretold the Messiah, but did not name him explicitly as Jesus. The Old Testament saw the Holy Spirit as a manifestation of God, but did not see Him as a separate person of the one Godhead. Should we then reject the Old Testament as incomplete? Of course not. As Pope Benedict XVI said: “Christians do not read the Old Testament for its own sake but always with Christ and through Christ“, as a voyage to Truth through continuing Revelation.
THE ANGLICAN USAGE LITURGY
The mission of the Ordinariate is particularly experienced in the reverence and beauty of our liturgy, [emphasis added] which features Anglican traditions of worship while conforming to Catholic doctrinal, sacramental and liturgical standards. [emphasis added] Through Divine Worship: The Missal — the liturgy that unites the Ordinariates throughout the English-speaking world — we share our distinctive commitment to praising God in the eloquence of the Anglican liturgical patrimony and Prayer Book English.
The language usage, which includes “thee’s” and “thou’s,” is beautiful and a reminder of our heritage. (Unlike the prescriptions of some present day Catholic liturgists, there is no attempt to debase the English language by subscribing to politically correct gender neutrality and inclusiveness.) There is also frequent and appropriate use of Latin, again as a reminder of the Church’s heritage as the Church of Rome.
Now, where does “Holy Ghost” fit here? The term replaces “Holy Spirit” in some places where it might occur in non-Ordinariate liturgy, as for example in the introductory “Collect for Purity”: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen”. However, it does not replace Holy Spirit in all uses. For example, in the Anglican Usage “Novena to the Holy Ghost“, Holy Spirit is used extensively and interchangeably. And thus the beauty of the English language is displayed: its magnificent redundancy and subtlety, two ways of saying the same thing, not altogether equivalent,
Finally, I go back to the catechesis given by a priest when I was learning about Catholicism: “There is God the Father, God above us; God the Son, God beside us; and God the Holy Spirit, God within us.” So, the Holy Spirit is at the same time clearly evident and a mystery–God within us. And the Holy Ghost is part of our mind, which is also a mystery.
*More properly referred to as “The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter”.