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Many of you know that I minister within a group that is traditionally King James Version Only.

When I read the Scriptures in the KJV, which I love, I cringe to read "Holy Ghost" instead of "Holy Spirit" in many places.

What was it that motivated the translators to use "ghost" instead of "spirit" in some places?

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I don't know, but whenever I'm forced to use KJV, I always "translate" from Olde English to modern parlance on the fly.  Thee/thy to you/your, ghost to spirit, removing the useless trailing "-est" on verbs that have them.

Of course, in a KJVO crowd, I suspect that taking such liberties would be regarded as heretical and blasphemous.

Yup, to some extent it would be viewed as blasphemous.
To what extent would depend on the crowd.

karl kleinpaste said:

I don't know, but whenever I'm forced to use KJV, I always "translate" from Olde English to modern parlance on the fly.  Thee/thy to you/your, ghost to spirit, removing the useless trailing "-est" on verbs that have them.

Of course, in a KJVO crowd, I suspect that taking such liberties would be regarded as heretical and blasphemous.

Could it be to make a particular verse rhyme or have some kind of alliteration?  Could it be that it differs based on language, authorship, or timing of the writing?  Personally, I think it may have just been interchangeable words that, at the time, had the same meaning.

That was a popular translation at the time, and was consistent with the usage in the Book of Common Prayer.  (Don't forget: the KJV was translated by the Anglicans for the Anglicans.)

A quick e-Sword search of both phrases reveals that the term "Holy Ghost" is always a proper noun, clearly His own Person, with "Holy" capitalized.  Whereas the use of the phrase "holy Spirit", it is never (with one exception: Luke 11:13) used this way, and the "holy" is always (except that one time) lowercase.  Consistently, the spirit (pardon the pun) of the phrase "holy Spirit" seems to always be not quite so personal, almost as though it's an attribute or force of the Father.

In other words, although we know that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Trinity, and not just an impersonal force, or presence of the Father, it appears that the translators used the phrase "holy Spirit" when the text seems to be referring to something possessed by the Father, and "Holy Ghost" when it's blatantly Personal.

The one exception actually proves the rule.  In Luke 11:13, the Father is giving "the Holy Spirit" (emphasis mine) to them that ask Him.  So the Holy Spirit here is clearly Personal (thus the use of the capital "H"), but is also referred to as something belonging to the Father, and sent/given by Him, thus use of the term "Spirit," as opposed to "Ghost".

This makes some sense, of course, since the term "Ghost" tends to be more Personal -- i.e. the spirited presence of a non-physical entity, most often a Person.

Hope this helps. :)

Disclaimer: I have no idea if this is the actual intention of the translators.  I threw this together based on a quick (but obvious) observation I just made 5 minutes ago when I searched each phrase specifically.

< /lurking>

Ghost 1611... Spirit 2012... same same (or at least pretty close - 'spirit' carries more with it than 'ghost' did).

Languages change.

< lurking>

The LC-MS Divine Service setting 3 uses the King James language and is a beautiful liturgy. This is my favorite setting and it uses Holy Ghost. Our church alternates between four settings.

Ray,

I know that languages change, but I would imagine that ghost brought up visions of spooks in 1611, too. That's why I was wondering.

Ray Nearhood said:

< /lurking>

Ghost 1611... Spirit 2012... same same (or at least pretty close - 'spirit' carries more with it than 'ghost' did).

Languages change.

< lurking>

Steve,

That's very interesting.

I never thought about looking at it from that POV. Whether that was their intent or not, it's an interesting observation.

Steve said:

That was a popular translation at the time, and was consistent with the usage in the Book of Common Prayer.  (Don't forget: the KJV was translated by the Anglicans for the Anglicans.)

A quick e-Sword search of both phrases reveals that the term "Holy Ghost" is always a proper noun, clearly His own Person, with "Holy" capitalized.  Whereas the use of the phrase "holy Spirit", it is never (with one exception: Luke 11:13) used this way, and the "holy" is always (except that one time) lowercase.  Consistently, the spirit (pardon the pun) of the phrase "holy Spirit" seems to always be not quite so personal, almost as though it's an attribute or force of the Father.

In other words, although we know that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Ghost is the Third Person of the Trinity, and not just an impersonal force, or presence of the Father, it appears that the translators used the phrase "holy Spirit" when the text seems to be referring to something possessed by the Father, and "Holy Ghost" when it's blatantly Personal.

The one exception actually proves the rule.  In Luke 11:13, the Father is giving "the Holy Spirit" (emphasis mine) to them that ask Him.  So the Holy Spirit here is clearly Personal (thus the use of the capital "H"), but is also referred to as something belonging to the Father, and sent/given by Him, thus use of the term "Spirit," as opposed to "Ghost".

This makes some sense, of course, since the term "Ghost" tends to be more Personal -- i.e. the spirited presence of a non-physical entity, most often a Person.

Hope this helps. :)

Disclaimer: I have no idea if this is the actual intention of the translators.  I threw this together based on a quick (but obvious) observation I just made 5 minutes ago when I searched each phrase specifically.

I don't think the two words had the same "feel" at that time, such that we react to "ghost" primarily as a spook. One would have to do some research to find evidence for just what the connotations were for these words. But obviously, if it were a word that would make the average person cringe to read it back then, they would have opted for Spirit.

 

This makes me think of the German word Zeitgeist, which we translate as "spirit of the time" or "spirit of the age." Geist is, of course, cognate with "ghost," but apparently in German, it isn't limited to spooks (I don't know German, though).

 

In fact these two words, like a lot of English words represent the "native" Germanic term along side the Latin/French term. Originally they were presumably completely synonymous. I mean, who knows, but since we don't need two words that are 100% synonymous, they tend to diverge over time. The KJV authors were 400 years closer to the earlier usages of these words.

 

One more thing. The KJV is a splendid translation. Its main problem today is not so much that people cannot understand the older form of English, but that they may misunderstand because features of the English language have changed. This is surely a good example of such a change. Something we call pejoration, in which a term develops a negative sense over time.

Indeed.

Marv said:

I don't think the two words had the same "feel" at that time, such that we react to "ghost" primarily as a spook. One would have to do some research to find evidence for just what the connotations were for these words. But obviously, if it were a word that would make the average person cringe to read it back then, they would have opted for Spirit.

 

This makes me think of the German word Zeitgeist, which we translate as "spirit of the time" or "spirit of the age." Geist is, of course, cognate with "ghost," but apparently in German, it isn't limited to spooks (I don't know German, though).

 

In fact these two words, like a lot of English words represent the "native" Germanic term along side the Latin/French term. Originally they were presumably completely synonymous. I mean, who knows, but since we don't need two words that are 100% synonymous, they tend to diverge over time. The KJV authors were 400 years closer to the earlier usages of these words.

 

One more thing. The KJV is a splendid translation. Its main problem today is not so much that people cannot understand the older form of English, but that they may misunderstand because features of the English language have changed. This is surely a good example of such a change. Something we call pejoration, in which a term develops a negative sense over time.

Actually it is simply a matter of the way the word was used in Elizabethan English. If you read Spenser, Marlowe, Sidney, Shakespeare, etc. you can virtually witness the development of the term throughout that era. The English term "ghost" and the German word geist come from the Germanic root gaistaz and used to have a broader semantic range than the modern "ghost". It often referred to the metaphysical identity in contrast to the active physical identity. For example, it could be used to refer to the dream state or the mind of person. Over time it came to be more tightly associated with the spirit of a particular person... close to our notion of spook. In 1611 the term was still undergoing this transition and shortly afterward was replaced in many contextual constructions by the Latin derived "spirit". As Marv pointed out the German evolution has not undergone the same level of constriction and geist still has that broader meaning. The original KJV audience would not have reacted to "Ghost" the way many people do today. It basically meant spirit, or at least that was one of its meanings.

Thanks.

I had the idea that the usage had actually changed, as with so many other words.

KG said:

Actually it is simply a matter of the way the word was used in Elizabethan English. If you read Spenser, Marlowe, Sidney, Shakespeare, etc. you can virtually witness the development of the term throughout that era. The English term "ghost" and the German word geist come from the Germanic root gaistaz and used to have a broader semantic range than the modern "ghost". It often referred to the metaphysical identity in contrast to the active physical identity. For example, it could be used to refer to the dream state or the mind of person. Over time it came to be more tightly associated with the spirit of a particular person... close to our notion of spook. In 1611 the term was still undergoing this transition and shortly afterward was replaced in many contextual constructions by the Latin derived "spirit". As Marv pointed out the German evolution has not undergone the same level of constriction and geist still has that broader meaning. The original KJV audience would not have reacted to "Ghost" the way many people do today. It basically meant spirit, or at least that was one of its meanings.

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