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Religious Experience of the Pneuma

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Clint Tibbs explores the Christian religious experience of the Pneuma given in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14. First Corinthians 12 and 14 is often read as concerning spiritual gifts. This heading, however, does not make clear the scope of Paul's text because it highlights only one component of Paul's polemic, gifts, to the neglect of other and equally important terms. The experiences Paul mentions in these texts, speaking in a spirit, prophecy, and glossolalia, as well as the mention of spirits in three different places, suggest that Paul was actually writing about communicating with the spirit world. The main religious experience of the earliest Christians was communication with the spirit world that fulfilled the promise of the sending of the Spirit in the Gospel of John, that which officially began the Christian movement abroad in Acts 2, and through which the gospel was meant to be preached as recorded in 1 Peter 1:12. Spirit communication of a Christian nature is also recorded in the Didache 11, Shepherd of Hermas, Mandate 11, and the accounts of Montanism. The author uses these texts, as well as those from Plutarch, Josephus, Philo and Pseudo-Philo, to illustrate the kind of spirit communication that Paul depicts in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, that of spirits speaking through mediums.
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About the Author

Clint Tibbs, Born 1971; 2006 PhD (the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.); teaching Religion, Bible and Philosophy at Delta State University.

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