Πνεῦμα in the Writings of Flavius Josephus: A Jewish Adaptation of Middle Platonic Trichotomic Anthropology?

In: Journal of Ancient Judaism
Stefan Krauter Theologische Fakultät, Universität Zürich 30961 Zurich Switzerland

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Several recent studies have advanced the thesis that ancient Judaism and the emerging Christian movement took up the Middle Platonic trichotomic model of the human being. This article analyzes all instances of πνεῦμα in the works of Josephus. All passages in which Josephus talks about πνεῦμα in relation to living people can most plausibly be interpreted in the sense of “breath.” In addition, he uses the lexeme for demons, for the divine spirit and for wind, i.e., in the entire breadth of common language usage. A philosophical concept of πνεῦμα cannot be identified and there are no traces of a Jewish adaption of Middle Platonic anthropology in Josephus. He does not use πνεῦμα to denote a connection between human beings and the divine, nor does he have a πνεῦμα/ψυχή/σῶμα-model of humanity.

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