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Filled with the Spirit Hardcover – October 6, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


“An impressive and provocative study that is sure to be a significant voice in the evolving discussions regarding the Spirit of God in the literatures of early Israel, Second Temple Judaism, and early Christianity.”
— Review of Biblical Literature

“Levison has provided a compelling, eloquent, sensitive reading of texts related to God’s Spirit. . . . Filled with the Spirit is a category-altering book with the potential to reshape how one ministers and lives as a spirit-empowered agent in the world.”
— Word and World

“There are many books on the Holy Spirit, but few historical studies of the development of pneumatology (as the study of the Spirit is called), and this is a good and subtle one. It takes the reader into ancient Jewish and pagan texts as well as the Bible, and shows how variegated and complex was the background against which Paul could speak of ‘the fruits of the Spirit’.”
— Church Times

“An impressive study.”
— Journal of Ancient Judaism

“A remarkable read.”
— Thermelios

“[Here] is a new book that will become, and perhaps already has become, the benchmark and starting point for all future studies of the Spirit. The effusiveness of the endorsements match what I have seen in the book: a full study of the evidence in the Old Testament, the Jewish literature, Greco-Roman materials and the New Testament, and a comprehensive re-evaluation of the state of the art. . . . This book is eloquent and exceptional. Buy it and read it.”
— Scot McKnight
on the blog Jesus Creed: Scot McKnight on Jesus and Orthodox Faith in the 21st Century

“Levison’s scholarly book is worth buying for the wealth of his research on Greco-Roman literature, for his extensive use of the Qumran writings that cast light on the biblical texts, and for multiple precious insights into both testaments, all presented in a delightful, engaging style.”
— Catholic Biblical Quarterly

“This insightful and meticulous research is addressed to fellow scholars, but graduate students and pastors will find that it rewards patient application. It deserves a prize.”
— The Bible Today

About the Author

John R. (Jack) Levison is W. J. A. Power Professor of Old Testament Interpretation and Biblical Hebrew at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University. His other books include Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life and The Spirit in First-Century Judaism.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802863728
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802863720
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Called a "brilliant and spirited theologian" by author Phyllis Tickle, Jack Levison is a featured blogger for The Huffington Post ( and a regular contributor to Patheos (, the world's largest independent site for conversations on religion. Jack is an internationally recognized scholar, whose books have received wide acclaim. Eugene Peterson considers him "the most competent scholar and clearest writer on the Holy Spirit that I have known." Scot McKnight, author of The Jesus Creed, characterized Filled with the Spirit as "the benchmark and starting point for all future studies of the Spirit," and Walter Brueggemann hailed it as "inspired." Jack has received grants from the National Humanities Center, the Lilly Fellows Program, the Louisville Institute, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Rotary Foundation, the International Catacomb Society, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He directs an international research project, The Historical Roots of the Holy Spirit, and is founding editor of a new book series, Ekstasis: Religious Experience from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. He currently serves as president of the Pacific Northwest Region of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature. Raised in Levittown, New York, Jack left to attend Wheaton College, where his Greek professor captured his imagination with visions of Cambridge University. When he returned from England to pursue doctoral studies at Duke University, Jack fell in love with a divinity student, Priscilla Pope, alongside of whom he now teaches at Seattle Pacific University. Jack now lives with his family and black lab mix in Shoreline, Washington.

You can access a discussion guide for Fresh Air here:

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy Garber on May 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Levison provides a nuanced and readable summary of the various understandings of spirit and Holy Spirit in both the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. He chooses (unusually) to frame his exploration through a dialogue with late 19th century German scholar Hermann Gunkel, who argued that the Spirit was solely mysterious, supernatural and overwhelming. In contrast, Levison sees evidence that the Hebrews understood spirit as both that which God implants in human beings at their birth, and a spirit of inspiration at particular moments in history. In the post-exilic period, the Essenes understood spirit as a communal endowment, while Hellenized Jews incorporated the Socratic idea of daimon and the ecstatic features of Greek religion into their understanding of spirit. Finally, the New Testament writers shy away from spirit as something essential in humans, insisting on the completely new gift of the spirit of Jesus Christ and combined with the Essenes' communal emphasis and a careful adaptation of the ecstatic properties of the Greek influence. Levison writes academically but with a vivid prose style that makes his arguments compelling and easy to follow. Recommended for biblical scholars, theologians, and laypersons interested in the complexities of what ruach and pneuma are all about.
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