Monday, March 03, 2008

The Spirit of God: He's kind of a big deal

So you may have noticed my habit of starting threads and not finishing them. I could claim that it's an artistic choice to leave you, the reader, with a sense of unresolved existential tension, driving you into deeper introspection about the topic at hand . . . actually, I think I'll go with that.

Pretentious excuses aside, I want to finish my thought started in such posts as this one, and this one. The question that still lingers in my mind is, "If God wants to give us good things, what good things does he have in mind?"

It's interesting to compare Matt 7:11 and Luke 11:13 in this regard. Matthew and Luke seem to be drawing off of some common source (since this passage isn't in Mark, it is often linked to the hypothetical source Q). While Matthew translates Jesus' message here into a general statement, that the Father will give good gifts, Luke translates it into a very specific statement, that the Father will give the Holy Spirit. It's as if Luke, wanting to make "good things" as compact and concrete as possible, picked out the best "good thing" that God could give us. Think about that. The Holy Spirit is the best thing God can give you.

(Of course, it's possible that Luke was copying more directly from underlying sources and Matthew generalized "Holy Spirit" to "good things." We can't know, because we don't have their sources. But my point is that I believe both statements are accurate translations of Christ's teaching.)

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