Multiple independent sources from within living memory report that Jesus taught his disciples, shortly before or after his resurrection, that he was divine and that the divine Spirit could be distinguished from him and from the Father. These sources cohere well and suggest that later affirmations that God is Father, Son, and Spirit develop material that goes back to the earliest period of Christian faith.
The trinitarian understanding of the Godhead, as opposed to a binitarian understanding, may well have its roots in the pre-Easter teaching of Jesus.
Whether after the resurrection or shortly before his execution,2 Jesus is likely the direct source of his followers’ understanding that he is divine. I argue here that there is also a good chance that the new, Christian distinction of the Spirit from the Father goes back to Jesus.
In this article, I support the proposal, extremely controversial in most academic circles, that the Gospels’ depiction of these revelations at the conclusion of Jesus’s ministry is genuinely veridical. I draw on both textual evidence and inference from early Christian experience.
1 Early Trinitarian Tendencies
Many scholars make only selective use of the traditional criterion of multiple attestation, excluding its application to the diverse and apparently independent accounts of Jesus’s resurrection appearances. Yet, Jesus’s post-resurrection message in the first-century sources that report it consistently focuses on mission (Matt 28:19; Luke 24:47–48; Acts 1:8; John 20:21–23) and, in connection with this mission, the empowerment of the Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4–5, 8; John 20:22) or Jesus’s presence (Matt 28:20).
The coherence of these sources need not rely on verbatim agreement: comparison with other ancient biographies shows that the Evangelists’ ancient audiences would not expect these reports to recount Jesus’s words verbatim.3 That Luke can summarize the heart of the commission in different wording in his own two accounts,4 clearly meant to be read together,5 confirms that he never expected anyone to think otherwise.
Still, if Jesus spent any substantial amount of time with his disciples (Acts 1:3), he probably did repeat some key themes multiple times and in multiple ways (1:4–5). Did Jesus himself command baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matt 28:19)? Or at the least, did he provide the raw material that quickly led to trinitarian belief among his followers? (For Matthew, baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit presumably evokes Jesus’s own baptism and experience of the Father and Spirit in Matt 3:16–17; cf. already Mark 1:10–12.)
Far from being a late development, as has often been supposed, Jesus’s divinity or Jesus as an object of worship appears in the earliest extant examples of New Testament Christology. While we cannot expect Paul to reflect later Nicene language, he often applies biblical language for YHWH to Jesus: for example, Zech 14:5 in 1 Thess 3:13; Deut 6:4 in 1 Cor 8:6; Isa 45:23 in Phil 2:9–11; and OT day of YHWH language in 1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; Phil 1:6, 10; 2:16.6 Granted, his status appears subordinate to that of the Father in Paul (for example, Rom 8:3), but this remains the case even in the late first-century Christology of John’s Gospel.7
More directly to the point, in the fifties of the first century, roughly a quarter century after Jesus’s resurrection, Paul uses a “proto-trinitarian formula” (which we might call simply trinitarian if it were in Matthew, John, or the Apostolic Fathers) in 2 Cor 13:13 and by implication also 1 Cor 12:4–6; Gal 4:6; Rom 15:30; Eph 4:4–6.8 (He also applies to the Spirit language appropriate for a personal actor, as in, for example, Rom 8:14, 16, 26–27; 1 Cor 2:10; 12:10–11; 2 Cor 3:17–18; Gal 5:18.)
Where did Paul get this formula? If it originated only with Paul, why is the idea apparently picked up, probably independently, in other strands of first-century Christian theology? One might suppose Pauline influence in 1 Peter (see 1 Pet 1:2), in John’s Gospel (see John 14:23), and Revelation (assuming, as is probable, a relationship between the Spirit and the seven spirits of Rev 1:4–5).9
More difficult to explain is the appearance of the formula in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt 28:19), unless we suppose that Paul’s influence pervaded virtually every surviving NT line of tradition. Paul’s language, then, seems to be pre-Pauline, even though his letters provide our earliest extant attestation of this language, within a quarter century of Jesus’s departure from his disciples.
2 Wisdom Pneumatology?
While early Jesus worship is clear, a trinitarian formula also presupposes a role for the Spirit. What can account for recognizing the Spirit as a divine person alongside the Son?
Proposed indications of the Spirit’s personality in earlier Jewish and biblical traditions10 are weak, since these sources usually fail to distinguish the Spirit from God (that is, the Father).11 Nevertheless, evidence does support the recognition that various early Christians recognized a personalized Spirit.12 Johannine parallels between the Spirit-Paraclete and Jesus’s personal work earlier in the Fourth Gospel underline this case particularly in the Fourth Gospel, as will be noted further below.13
Just as the figure of Wisdom may inform the background of John’s logos and some prior Pauline Christology,14 so this figure may also inform the treatment of the Spirit.15 The OT and subsequent Jewish texts sometimes associate Word and Spirit.16 Nevertheless, the association of the Spirit and personified17 Wisdom seems fairly rare outside Wisdom of Solomon, and this work would not likely be the sole source of the image.18 This work is probably early enough19 and, despite its likely Alexandrian origin, would likely be known to the early Jerusalem church; it was very likely familiar to the Fourth Gospel’s author.20 But its influence on this point is not evident in other sources beyond the possibility here explored, reducing direct likelihood of its influence here; nor does it seem to have shaped early Christian articulation of pneumatology, at least not sufficiently clearly to make a strong case for it. While Wisdom background thus remains a valuable consideration in the articulation of the message, we need to supplement it with other considerations.
3 Spiritual Experience
Certainly, early Christianity’s experience of the Holy Spirit contributed to their emphasis on the Spirit as divine.21 By itself, however, this does not explain their distinctive understanding of the Spirit as personal. Their early Jewish context would not have viewed the Spirit’s divinity as controversial or personally distinct from God; Jewish tradition generally understood the Spirit as an aspect or attribute of God. The element of developing Christian pneumatology that was virtually unique in the context of ancient Judaism was the understanding of the Spirit as a person distinct from the Father and the Son, yet ranked alongside them (cf. John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7).22
At first, then, it is not clear why early Christian experience would lead to distinguishing the Spirit from Jesus. Jesus and the Spirit act in concert in the prophetic speeches of Rev 2–3 (2:1, 7; 2:8, 11; 2:12, 17; 2:18, 29; 3:1, 6; 3:7, 13; 3:14, 22). Granted, Jesus’s disciples had clearly experienced him as distinct from the Father during his ministry (for example, see Matt 11:25//Luke 10:21; Mark 13:32), and Paul clearly distinguished the two as well (as in Rom 15:6; 1 Cor 15:24, 28; 2 Cor 11:31).
Yet this distinction between the Father and the Son need not by itself entail early Christians envisioning an additional parallel role for the Spirit. Paul employs binitarian blessings (for example, Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:3; Phil 1:2; 1 Thess 1:1; 3:11),23 and even the late first-century work Revelation usually links God and the lamb apart from explicit mention of the Spirit (Rev 7:10, 17; 21:22–23; 22:1, 3).24
The experience of the risen Jesus might identify Jesus as divine (cf. the saying in Matt 18:20, especially in view of its likely echo of an early Jewish saying about God’s presence).25 Noting parallels with Jesus’s personal activity in the Fourth Gospel, some scholars suggest that believers may have seen the Spirit as personal primarily because they experienced the Spirit as the personal presence of Jesus or the mediator of that presence.26
Because the Spirit dwells in us, people of the Spirit who walk by the Spirit and are led by the Spirit relate to God’s Spirit in a personal way that is more intimate than any external relationship. We relate to the Spirit as a person, and through the Spirit personally to the Father and the Son in some way together (John 14:23). Paul sometimes describes the Spirit as connecting us with God without identifying the two precisely (for example, in Rom 8:27; 1 Cor 2:10; Eph 2:18).
By itself, this personal presence would not necessarily lead to a distinction between Jesus and the Spirit, however, since the Spirit of God could also be experienced as the “Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7),27 the Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9; 1 Pet 1:11), and the Spirit of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:19).28 One might suppose that they experienced the Spirit as distinct from Jesus because Jesus could be in only one place at a time (cf. John 16:7); but Jesus promised that his followers would experience him along with the Spirit (14:21–23).
Experience plus memory (John 14:26), however, could provide a distinction. The memory of Jesus, much of it preserved for us in what ultimately became the Gospels, would allow believers to interpret their Spirit-empowered continuing experience of Jesus in light of the knowledge that Jesus was distinct from the Spirit. Jesus was not the Spirit (Q material in Matt 12:32//Luke 12:10); Jesus was the Spirit-empowered one (Mark 1:10; John 1:32–33) who would baptize in the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8; John 1:33; cf. Acts 2:33).
What further made relating to the Spirit somewhat distinct from relating to the Father or the risen Lord Jesus may have been the very experience of the prophetic Spirit.29 In ordinary life (as opposed to visions) it is apparently especially the Spirit who speaks (Acts 8:29; 10:19; 13:2), including in prophecy (Acts 21:11; Rev 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). Granted that both Jesus and the Spirit speak together in prophecies in Rev 2–3, the Spirit can also bear witness to Jesus (cf. John 14:26; 15:26; 16:14–15) in the third person (1 Cor 12:3; Rev 19:10) and can even invoke him in the second person (Rev 22:17).
Still, prophecies about Jesus in the third person from the Spirit would probably not by itself compel distinguishing the Spirit as a divine person; as already noted, Jesus and the Spirit can speak in the same prophecies (Rev 2–3). Something else most likely helped shape, corroborate, or at least guide the interpretation of the conclusion from some early Christian experience. Can early Christian memory of Jesus provide further insight here?
4 The Jesus of History
What creative mind in early Christianity exerted sufficient uncontested influence to shape the starkly unique understanding of God’s unity throughout diverse cultural strands of the movement? We often suppose influential yet anonymous theologians in the early years of the church, but we already know the names of the key leaders who exerted the greatest influence: Paul, more influential in the Diaspora, and, in Judea, Jesus’s personal disciples and family members, especially Peter, James the Lord’s brother, and John (Gal 1:18–19; 2:9). We do not usually portray Peter as a particularly original thinker (despite his apparently strong leadership skills), and none of the others (and probably not even Peter) commanded such wide influence throughout the movement that they could have single-handedly modified the movement’s fundamental understanding of God.
There is, however, an often overlooked plausible common source for this language, a source that would have commanded decisive influence in the movement, even if it took time for this voice’s words to be fully understood: Jesus himself. Within a period of living memory, we do not expect social memory to preserve words verbatim, but many ideas do reflect the impact of an account’s central figure.30 Although often dismissed, two independent first-century sources do indeed attribute early trinitarian language to Jesus himself: Matthew 28:19 and John 14:23.
During Jesus’s public ministry, the messianic secret would naturally limit public claims of identity that transcended conventional messianic expectations, and the disciples’ misunderstanding vividly depicted in the Gospel would limit even his private teaching. Not surprisingly, it is only in his final hours with the disciples before his arrest and in the time spent with them after the resurrection that the Gospels emphasize these most direct claims.
Historical Jesus scholars usually presuppose that Jesus did not believe himself to be an exalted figure. Apart from presupposing that premise, however, there is no reason to doubt the textual evidence that Jesus spoke of such matters to his disciples privately shortly before his execution, even if they were unable to understand what he was saying (cf. John 16:18). Other traditions about Jesus attest that he promised his followers the prophetic Spirit (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12; compare Matt 10:20; John’s promise in Matt 3:11//Luke 3:16; Mark 1:8); such an expectation was consistent with the OT prophets, at least as commonly as a messianic hope (Isa 32:15; 44:3; 59:21; Ezek 36:26–27; 37:1–14; 39:29; Joel 2:28–29; probably Zech 12:10).
Yet, Jesus seems to have elaborated most fully on the Spirit’s role in their lives after his resurrection (John 20:22; Acts 1:4–8). Since a post-resurrection commissioning empowered by the Spirit is attested in apparently independent accounts in John 20:21–22 and Acts 1:8 (cf. Matt 28:20), those who affirm Jesus’s resurrection have no reason to doubt that he also spent time speaking with them about the Spirit, including in connection with baptism in the Spirit and perhaps water baptism (see Acts 1:4–5; cf. 19:2–6).
Likewise, multiple, apparently independent strands of tradition also seem to imply some understanding of Jesus’s divine status soon after the resurrection (Matt 28:19–20; John 20:28; Acts 1:8; 2:21 with 38; 2:17–18 with 2:33). The early Christian understanding of Jesus’s divinity shared by most first-century sources could have originated during time spent with Jesus after his resurrection (for time after the resurrection, see Matt 28:16–20; Luke 24:36–50; John 20:19–29; 21:4–23; Acts 1:3; for clues regarding Jesus’s divinity, cf. John 20:28–29; the echoes of Isa 43:10, 12; 44:8 in Acts 1:8). Such discussions would provide a ready explanation—and, in fact, the only explanation actually presumed in our textual evidence—for the trinitarian understanding that appears in a range of our early Christian sources.
5 Matthew’s Formula
The formula itself appears in Matt 28:19 in connection with baptism. That Jesus taught his followers to baptize (John 4:1–2) is very likely; he provides the most direct link between John’s baptism (Mark 1:4; Matt 3:11//Luke 3:16; Josephus Ant. 18.117) and the practice of Jesus’s followers (such as in Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27).31 That this baptism was from the beginning distinctive among Jewish baptisms, marked by its focus on Christ, is attested by all the sources that directly mention it.
Although Matt 28:19 could function as a fuller elaboration of Luke’s simpler “baptized in Jesus’s name,” both probably evoke baptism in the name of Israel’s God and hence Jesus’s divinity.32 The passive voice of all Lukan references to baptism that add the formula “in Jesus’s name” (Acts 2:38; 8:12, 16; 10:48; 19:5) suggests that what marked it as distinctive was believers’ confession of faith at their baptism (see Acts 22:16 and the relation of baptism in Jesus’s name in 2:38 to calling on the Lord’s name in 2:21).33 Paul probably echoes this formula when he denies baptizing in his own name in 1 Cor 1:13–15.
Matthew’s use of the active participle (Matt 28:19), however, may suggest a slightly different aspect of baptism, namely, that those who make disciples are the ones who act in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This might refer not to a formula but to the content of their message into which believers are baptized, analogous to John’s “baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; Acts 13:24; 19:4), that is, a baptism that expresses the response to John’s message of repentance. (The formula may also evoke the presence of Father, Son, and Spirit at Jesus’s baptism; see Mark 1:10–11; Matt 3:16–17.)
Certainly Matthew’s message about Jesus’s authority (for example, Matt 7:29; 8:9; 9:6, 8) climaxes in this passage (28:18), as does his suggestion of Jesus’s divinity via his presence (1:23; 18:20; 28:20). Interestingly, however, Matthew offers no prior corresponding hints that the Spirit is a divine person distinct from the Father analogous to Jesus (28:19), apart from the Spirit’s distinctive role at Jesus’s baptism (Matt 3:16). This prior silence suggests that Matthew’s own emphasis lies elsewhere, and that here, as in places in which we can test him through his use of Mark and material shared with Luke, Matthew instead echoes prior tradition.
Most historical Jesus scholars dismiss genuine Jesus tradition in Matthew’s trinitarian formula.34 In many cases their skepticism on this point may reflect the concerns that a post-resurrection commissioning presupposes something like an actual resurrection and that Jesus speaking in something resembling trinitarian terms would violate conventional views regarding the evolution of first-century Christology.35
Yet, Albright and Mann point out that the trinitarian formula is established by the period of our first extant Christian documents (1 Cor 12:4–6; 2 Cor 13:14); that it was widespread in the church (1 Pet 1:2; 1 John 3:23–24; Did. 7:1–3; Ode Sol. 23.22);36 that Mark already pairs “Father” and “Son” (Mark 13:32, for example), as do Q (Matt 11:27//Luke 10:22) and Johannine tradition. They even suggest, I believe less plausibly, that “such a saying may have stood in the now-lost ending of Mark.”37
Placing Jesus on the same level with the Father and Spirit makes even more explicit what is already implicit in Acts’ “baptism in Jesus’s name” (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; cf. 22:16)38—that is, that Jesus is divine (28:19). Both formulas distinguish Christian from other baptisms,39 and Christian baptism seems to go back to the movement’s beginning.40
Jesus’s post-resurrection (and possibly some late pre-resurrection) teaching about himself and the Spirit offers a more plausible explanation for the early and widespread appearance of such motifs in early Christianity.
At various points, John 14–16 speaks of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in parallel ways, such as revealing what they hear from the one who sent them (15:15, 16:13). These parallels largely belong to believers’ continuing experience. But for subsequent believers, this experiential distinction would be minimal, because they had not experienced Jesus in the flesh (John 14:23; 17:20–21; 20:29–31). This distinction would be maximally significant only for those who knew Jesus in the flesh (for example, John 20:22; Acts 1:8; 1 John 4:2). In other words—and this is the important point—the experiential distinction would need to be quite early in the life of Jesus’s movement.
If the trinitarian formula in Paul predates Paul yet surfaces later in such Levant-related sources as Matthew, perhaps it is time to reconsider earlier scholarly assumptions that the formula reflects merely a late and unreliable development. Perhaps it instead reflects an early understanding of Jesus’s own teaching, possibly some of it shortly before his passion and even more probably some of it after his resurrection.
This argument has taken for granted several assumptions that I have defended elsewhere but have not taken space to defend here: the authentic historical witness to Jesus of much of the tradition in the Gospels (in accordance with their status as ancient biographies);41 the possibility that Jesus understood himself to be more than a mere Messiah;42 and the fact that Jesus actually did return after his death and spent time with his disciple witnesses.43 Among those who experience the living presence of the exalted Jesus through the Spirit, however, these points can normally be granted without extensive argument.
The distinctive, early Christian threefold understanding of God is pre-Pauline and widespread in early Christianity. The Spirit appears as distinct and parallel to the Father and Son at points even though early Christians necessarily had to focus on the issue, hotly disputed with other Jewish interlocutors, of Jesus’s divinity alongside the Father. The evidence of early Christian texts suggests that the understanding of the divinity and distinct personhood of the Son and the Spirit go back to Jesus himself. Early Christian experience might tend to identify Jesus with his Spirit, but Jesus’s earliest followers, who had known him in the flesh, would clearly distinguish them.
Apart from some prophecies about Jesus in the third person, early Christian personal experience of the Spirit would remain distinct from personal experience with Jesus primarily among the earliest witnesses of Jesus. This distinction is thus early and plausibly goes back to the same source that our only textual evidence seems to imply: Jesus himself.
1Craig A. Evans, Matthew (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 486.
2Less directly, of course, they appear earlier, but typically in ways that could be construed less dramatically; see, e.g., Matt 3:11/Luke 3:16; Matt 23:27/Luke 13:34 (see discussion in Craig S. Keener, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009], 268–282); Keener, “Jesus and Parallel Jewish and Greco-Roman Figures,” 85–111 in Christian Origins and Greco-Roman Culture: Social and Literary Contexts for the New Testament, ed. Stanley Porter and Andrew W. Pitts, Texts and Editions for New Testament Study 9 (Leiden: Brill, 2013); more often in John, esp. 8:58.
3On discussions of literary patterns, fidelity, and flexibility in ancient biographies, see Michael R. Licona, Why Are There Differences in the Gospels? What We Can Learn from Ancient Biography (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017); Craig S. Keener, Christobiography: Memories, History, and the Reliability of the Gospels (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2019).
4Craig S. Keener, Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, 4 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012–2015), 1:647–649.
5See, e.g., Charles H. Talbert, Literary Patterns, Theological Themes, and the Genre of Luke-Acts, SBLMS 20 (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1974); Robert C. Tannehill, The Narrative Unity of Luke-Acts: A Literary Interpretation, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986–1990); Joseph Verheyden, ed., The Unity of Luke-Acts, BETL 142 (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1999); Keener, Acts, 1:550–574.
6See fuller discussion than space affords here in David B. Capes, Old Testament Yahweh Texts in Paul’s Christology, WUNT 2/47 (Tübingen: Mohr, 1992); Capes, The Divine Christ: Paul, the Lord Jesus, and the Scriptures of Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2018); Gordon D. Fee, God’s Empowering Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Letters of Paul (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994), 839–842; Richard Bauckham, God Crucified: Monotheism and Christology in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998); Bauckham, “Is ‘High Human Christology’ Sufficient? A Critical Response to J.R. Daniel Kirk’s A Man Attested by God,” BBR 27, no. 4 (2017): 503–525; Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003), 1:302–310; Larry W. Hurtado, Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) (in terms of veneration); Simon J. Gathercole, The Pre-existent Son: Recovering the Christologies of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006); Chris Tilling, Paul’s Divine Christology, WUNT 2.323 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012); Richard B. Hays, Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014); Crispin Fletcher-Louis, Christological Origins: The Emerging Consensus and Beyond, vol. 1 of Fletcher-Louis, Jesus Monotheism (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2015); Andrew Ter Ern Loke, The Origin of Divine Christology, SNTSMS 169 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
7See Craig Keener, “Is Subordination within the Trinity Really Heresy? A Study of John 5:18 in Context,” Trinity Journal 20 n.s., no. 1 (Spring 1999): 39–51; more appropriately nuanced in Keener, “Subordination Within the Trinity: John 5:18 and 1 Cor 15:28,” 39–58 in The New Evangelical Subordinationism? Perspectives on the Equality of God the Father and God the Son, ed. Dennis W. Jowers and H. Wayne House (Eugene: Pickwick, 2012).
8See, e.g., Eduard Schweizer, The Church as the Body of Christ (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1976), 59; Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, WBC 41 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 246; Fee, Presence, 839–842; Fee, “Christology and Pneumatology in Romans 8:9–11—and Elsewhere: Some Reflections on Paul as a Trinitarian,” 312–331 in Jesus of Nazareth: Lord and Christ. Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Christology, ed. Joel B. Green and Max Turner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994); Francis Watson, “The Triune Divine Identity: Reflections on Pauline God-language, in Disagreement with J.D.G. Dunn,” JSNT 80 (2000): 99–124; A. Katherine Grieb, “People of God, Body of Christ, Koinonia of Spirit: The Role of Ethical Ecclesiology in Paul’s ‘Trinitarian’ Language,” ATR 87, no. 2 (2005): 225–252; Anthony C. Thiselton, The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 934. Using different terms, cf. Wisdom as leader or God leading into wisdom in Wis 7:15; 9:11; God leading in Epictetus Diatr. 2.7.11; 3.21.12; Marcus Aurelius 5.27; cf. reason’s guidance as divine guidance in Plutarch Lectures 1, Mor. 37E; education in Socrates Ep. 4; the angel of peace in T. Ben. 6:1. In Philo Mos. 2.265, the divine spirit guides the mind to walk in the way of truth.
9See Mathias Rissi, Time and History: A Study on the Revelation, trans. Gordon C. Winsor (Richmond, VA: John Knox, 1966), 58; George B. Caird, A Commentary on the Revelation of Saint John the Divine, HNTC (New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 15; F.F. Bruce, “The Spirit in the Apocalypse,” 333–344 in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament: Studies in Honour of C.F.D. Moule, ed. Barnabas Lindars and Stephen S. Smalley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 333–336, esp. 336; Bruce M. Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation (Nashville: Abingdon, 1993), 23; Craig S. Keener, Revelation, (NIVAC: Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 69–70; pace Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1993), 764.
10As parallels to the Johannine paraclete, some cite Qumran angelology (Paul Joseph Kobelski, “Melchizedek and Melchiresa: The Heavenly Prince of Light and the Prince of Darkness in the Qumran Literature” [PhD diss., Fordham University, 1978], 184–211; cf. Otto Betz, Der Paraklet Fürsprecher im Häretischen Spätjudentum, im Johannes-Evangelium und in neu gefundenen Gnosticischen Schriften, Arbeiten zur Geschichte des Spätjudentums und Urchristentums 2, [Leiden/Cologne: Brill, 1963], 114); or, as a literary device, in rabbinic literature (Joshua Abelson, The Immanence of God in Rabbinical Literature, [2d ed. New York: Hermon Press, 1969], 199–200, 207, 224–237; cf. 377–379). Other scholars derive the personality from non-pneumatic (or not necessarily pneumatic) images, whether the mythical intercessor (cf. Nils Johansson, Parakletoi: Vorstellungen von Fürsprechern für die Menschen vor Gott in der alttestamentlichen Religion, im Spätjudentum und Urchristentum [Lund: Gleerupska, 1940], 305) or the Word (J.T. Forestell, “Jesus and the Paraclete in the Gospel of John,” 151–197 in Word and Spirit: Essays in Honor of David Michael Stanley, SJ, on his 60th Birthday, ed. Joseph Plevnik [Willowdale, ON: Regis College, 1975], 194).
11On the weakness of this evidence, cf. Marie E. Isaacs, The Concept of Spirit: A Study of Pneuma in Hellenistic Judaism and Its Bearing on the New Testament, Heythrop Monographs 1 (London: Heythrop College Press, 1976), 14; the Spirit is God in Josephus and Philo (p. 25; cf. 56–57). See Gerald F. Hawthorne, The Presence & the Power: The Significance of the Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus (Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991), 14–15, 21–22, for the Spirit as God working actively in the OT.
12Ferdinand Hahn, “Das biblische Verständnis des Heiligen Geistes. Soteriologische Funktion und ‘Personalität’ des Heiligen Geistes,” 131–147 in Erfahrung und Theologie des Heiligen Geistes, ed. Claus Heitmann and Heribert Mühlen (Hamburg: Agentur des Rauhen Hauses; Munixh: Kösel, 1974), 144; Edward Malatesta, “The Spirit/Paraclete in the Fourth Gospel,” Biblica 54, no. 4 (1973): 539–550 (540; though not all his references demonstrate his position); G. Stählin, “Τὸ πνεῦμα Ἰησοῦ (Apostelgeschichte 16:7),” pges 229–252 in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament: Studies in Honor of C.F.D. Moule, ed. Barnabas Lindars and Stephen S. Smalley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 242–245.
13Heinrich Schlier, “Zum Begriff des Geistes nach dem Johannesevangelium,” 264–271 in Besinnung auf das Neue Testament. Exegetische Aufsätze und Vorträge II (Freiburg: Herder, 1964), 265; cf. 265–268.
14See Keener, John, 1:300–302, 350–355, 379–381, and sources noted there.
15See Wisdom of Solomon 1:6–7; 7:22, 25; 9:17; J. Rendel Harris, The Origin of the Prologue to St. John’s Gospel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1917), 38; Isaacs, Spirit, 20–21, 52–55, 136–137; Harald Riesenfeld, “A Probable Background to the Johannine Paraclete,” 266–274 in Ex Orbe Religionum: Studia Geo. Widengren, ed. C.J. Bleeker, et al. (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1972), 272; Robert P. Menzies, The Development of Early Christian Pneumatology with Special Reference to Luke-Acts, JSNTSup 54 (Sheffield, U.K.: Sheffield Academic, 1991), 84–87; cf. Eskil Franck, Revelation Taught: The Paraclete in the Gospel of John, Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament series 14 (Lund: C.W.K., 1985), 130–131.
16For connections, see Forestell, “Paraclete,” 186–192, esp. 186–187; in Philo, cf. Isaacs, Spirit, 54–55.
17Personification, a common rhetorical device, need not of itself entail hypostases; see discussion in Keener, John, 1:348–354. Confusion between the two concepts has long complicated debate about, for example, the Memra (George Foot Moore, “Intermediaries in Jewish Theology,” HTR 15 : 41–61; G.H. Box, “The Idea of Intermediation in Jewish Theology,” JQR 23 : 103–119).
18See Keener, John, 2:963–964, arguing more (964–969) for Johannine parallels with Jesus, whom believers experienced through the Spirit, as a major source (with also Robert Alan Berg, “Pneumatology and the History of the Johannine Community: Insights from the Farewell Discourses and the First Epistle” [PhD diss., Graduate School of Drew University, 1988], 70–71; Franck, Revelation, 38, 83–84; Gary M. Burge, The Anointed Community: The Holy Spirit in the Johannine Tradition [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987], 30, 49, 142).
19Parallels with Philo’s themes suggest to some a date of ca. 20 BCE to 70 CE (cf. John M. Barclay, Paul & the Gift [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015], 195), but I have noted allusions in mid-first century CE Christian texts (e.g., Craig S. Keener, 1–2 Corinthians [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005], 38; later, Keener, John, 1:562), and consequently continue to favor a date in the first century BCE (with, e.g., Leonhard Rost, Judaism outside the Hebrew Canon: An Introduction to the Documents, trans. David E. Green [Nashville: Abingdon, 1976], 59).
20See, e.g., Wis 9:15–16 and John 3:12; cf. further Günter Reim, Studien zum alttestamentlichen Hintergrund des Johannesevangeliums (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974), 193–195.
21On the early Christian experience of knowing God, see, e.g., Craig S. Keener, “Studies in the Knowledge of God in the Fourth Gospel in Light of Its Historical Context” (MDiv thesis, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, 1987); Keener, John, 1:233–247.
22Cf. discussion in D. Friedrich Büchsel, Der Geist Gottes im Neuen Testament (Gütersloh: Bertelsmann, 1926), 503–504; Malatesta, “Spirit/Paraclete,” 540; Stählin, “πνεῦμα,” 242–245; Hahn, “Verständnis,” 144; but esp. the parallels with Jesus’s personal work (Schlier, “Begriff,” 265).
23For discussion, see, e.g., Keener, Corinthians, 21–22; Keener, Galatians (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), 37–38.
24The Spirit might be implied in Rev 22:1; cf. the same verb in John 15:26; also Ezek 47:1–12 (using the same verb in 47:1, 8, 12 LXX) with 36:25–26.
25Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 455–456.
26E.g., Berg, “Pneumatology,” 70–71; Franck, Revelation, 38, 83–84; Burge, Community, 30, 49, 142; for parallels, see also Feliks Gryglewicz, “Die Aussagen über den Heiligen Geist im vierten Evangelium. Überlieferung und Redaktion,” Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt 4 (1979): 45–53. For the Spirit as Jesus’s “successor” in the Fourth Gospel, cf., e.g., Ulrich B. Müller, “Die Parakletenvorstellung im Johannesevangelium,” Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 71, no. 1 (March 1974): 31–78 (57–60).
27See Max Turner, Power from on High: The Spirit in Israel’s Restoration and Witness in Luke-Acts (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1996), 304; Turner, “The Spirit of Christ and ‘Divine’ Christology,” 413–436 in Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ: Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Christology, ed. Joel B. Green and Max Turner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Carlisle, UK: Paternoster, 1994), 436.
28For the sense of “the Spirit of the Lord” in 2 Cor 3:17, which probably instead reflects a midrash on Exod 33–34, see F.F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 120–121; Richard B. Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 143; Linda L. Belleville, Reflections of Glory: Paul’s Polemical Use of the Moses-Doxa Tradition in 2 Corinthians 3.1–18, JSNTSup 52 (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1991), 256–272; Margaret E. Thrall, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1994–2000), 278–281; Frank J. Matera, II Corinthians: A Commentary, NTL (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2003), 96; Keener, Corinthians, 169; Keener, The Mind of the Spirit: Paul’s Approach to Transformed Thinking (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016), 213.
29The association of God’s Spirit with prophecy appears in the OT (Num 11:25–26; 1 Sam 10:6, 10; 19:20, 23; Joel 2:28) and became the widest (though not the only) association of the Spirit in early Jewish sources (e.g., Sir 48:24; 1 En. 91:1; Jub. 25:14; 31:12; 1QS 8.16; Philo Flight 186; Heir 265; Mos. 1.175; 2.275, 291; Laws 1.315; 4.49; Josephus Ant. 6.56, 166, 222; 8.408; L.A.B. 28:6; 4 Ezra 14:22; t. Pesah. 2:15; 4:14; Mekilta Pisha 1.150–159), as is widely recognized (e.g., Ernest Best, “The Use and Non-use of Pneuma by Josephus,” NovT 3, no. 3 ⟨1959⟩: 218–225 [222–225]; Robert P. Menzies, The Development of Early Christian Pneumatology with Special Reference to Luke-Acts, JSNTSup 54 Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1991], 53–112; Robert P. Menzies, Empowered for Witness: The Spirit in Luke-Acts [London: T&T Clark, 2004], 49–101; Max Turner, Power from on High: The Spirit in Israel’s Restoration and Witness in Luke-Acts [Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic, 1996], 86–104; Craig S. Keener, The Spirit in the Gospels and Acts: Divine Purity and Power [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1997], 10–13, 31–33). This is also a common association in early Christianity, e.g., in Luke 1:67; Acts 2:17–18; 19:6; 2 Pet 1:21; Rev 19:10; Did. 11.7–9; Barn. 9.2.
30For various approaches to social memory and Jesus, see, e.g., Alan Kirk and Tom Thatcher, eds., Memory, Tradition, and Text: Uses of the Past in Early Christianity, Semeia 52 (Atlanta: SBL, 2005); Anthony Le Donne, The Historiographical Jesus: Memory, Typology, and the Son of David (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2009); Eric Eve, Behind the Gospels: Understanding the Oral Tradition (London: SPCK, 2013); Chris Keith, “Social Memory Theory and Gospels Research: The First Decade,” Early Christianity 6, no. 3 (2015): 354–376; 6, no. 4 (2015): 517–542; Tom Thatcher et al., eds., The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2017); Alan Kirk, Memory and the Jesus Tradition (New York: Bloomsbury: T&T Clark, 2018); Keener, Christobiography, chap. 16.
31See Keener, John, 1:578, 587–588; Keener, “John the Baptist in the Fourth Gospel,” paper presented at the Third Princeton-Prague Symposium, Princeton, NJ, March 18, 2016 (publication, James H. Charlesworth, ed.; Bloomsbury, forthcoming).
32Cf. later rabbinic evidence for “baptism in the name of heaven [i.e., God]” (I. Abrahams, Studies in Pharisaism and the Gospels, 1st ser. [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1917], 45). Cf. repentance “in the name of the Most High God” (Jos. Asen. 15:7); salvation “in the name of the Lord of Spirits” (1 Enoch 48:7).
33Keener, Acts, 1:975, 982–984; cf. 920–921.
34Cf., e.g., Rudolf Bultmann, The Second Letter to the Corinthians, trans. Roy A. Harrisville (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1985), 252. More with reference to particular wording, R.T. France, Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 415, argues from Lukan baptism in Jesus’s name that the explicit trinitarian formula is the church’s language (cf. D.A. Carson, Matthew [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984], 598, who also doubts that this represents the ipsissima verba).
35Jane Schaberg, The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: The Triadic Phrase in Matthew 28:19b, SBLDS 61 (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1982), 335–336 finds it in a traditional midrash behind Matthew’s redaction, but doubts that it is fully trinitarian even in Matthew; John Meier, Matthew (Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1980), 371, more plausibly accepts the trinitarian sense in Matthew, though also thinking the formula is pre-Matthean.
36Cf. also Mart. Pol. 22.3; 23.2; Ode Sol. 19.2, 4; Athenagoras Plea 24; Justin Martyr (in John Kaye, The First Apology of Justin Martyr [Edinburgh: John Grant, 1912], 54; Henry Chadwick, “Justin Martyr’s Defence of Christianity,” BJRL 47 [1964–1965]: 275–297 ); much later, Asc. Isa. 8:18; Sib. Or. prol. 15–16; 7.69; Greek Ezra 7:16; T. Isaac 1:1; 2:8, 20; 8:7; T. Jacob 1:1; Infancy Gospel of Thomas 2.11.4; Acts of John 96.13; Acts of Paul and Thecla 1.23; 2.2 A; Acts of Peter and Paul 88.2; Pilate 18.1–2; 27.1.
37William Foxwell Albright and C.S. Mann, Matthew, Anchor Bible (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971), 362. I believe that that Mark 16 simply ended with 16:8; for abrupt endings, see, e.g., Ps.-Philo L.A.B. 65:5; Isocrates Demon. 52, Or. 1; Thucydides 8.109.1; Lucan Civil War 10.546; Plutarch Fame of Athenians 8, Mor. 351B; Fortune of Alexander 2.13, Mor. 345B; Fortune of Romans 13, Mor. 326C; Uneducated Ruler 7, Mor. 782F; Demetrius Style 5.304; Herodian History 8.8.8; and esp. J. Lee Magness, Sense and Absence: Structure and Suspension in the Ending of Mark’s Gospel, SBL Semeia Studies (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 1986).
38Peter in Acts equates baptism in Jesus’s name (Acts 2:38) with calling on the Lord’s name in 2:21.
39I take most of this paragraph from Keener, Matthew, 717.
40Our earliest evidence for Christian communities shows that Christian initiatory baptism was already in place virtually from the beginning (see Wayne A. Meeks, The Moral World of the First Christians, LEC 6 [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986], 99).
41Craig Keener, “Otho: A Targeted Comparison of Suetonius’ Biography and Tacitus’ History, with Implications for the Gospels’ Historical Reliability,” BBR 21, no. 3 (2011): 331–355; Craig S. Keener and Edward T. Wright, eds., Biographies and Jesus: What Does It Mean for the Gospels to be Biographies? (Lexington, KY: Emeth Press, 2016); Keener, Christobiography; cf. elsewhere also Licona, Differences; Youngju Kwon, “Reimagining the Jesus Tradition: Orality, Memory, and Ancient Biography” (PhD diss., Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY, 2018).
42Keener, Historical Jesus, 268–282; Keener, “Jesus and Parallel Figures.”
43Keener, Historical Jesus, 330–348; more fully, N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, vol. 3 of Christian Origins and the Question of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003); Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2010). This argument in turn usually presupposes the possibility of the miraculous, for which see Graham H. Twelftree, “The Historian and the Miraculous,” BBR 28, no. 2 (2018): 199–217; Craig S. Keener, Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts, 2 vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011); Keener, “Miracle Reports: Perspectives, Analogies, Explanations,” 53–65 in Hermeneutik der frühchristlichen Wundererzählungen: Historische, literarische und rezeptionsästhetische Aspekte, ed. Bernd Kollmann and Ruben Zimmermann, WUNT 339 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014); Keener, “Miracle Reports and the Argument from Analogy,” BBR 25, no. 4 (2015): 475–495; cf. “ ‘The Dead are Raised’ (Matthew 11:5//Luke 7:22): Resuscitation Accounts in the Gospels and Eyewitness Testimony,” BBR 25, no. 1 (2015): 55–79; “The Historicity of the Nature Miracles,” 41–65 in Nature Miracles: Problems, Perspectives, and Prospects, ed. Graham H. Twelftree (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2017); “Miracles,” 443–449 in Dictionary of Christianity and Science, ed. Paul Copan et al. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017).