One of the first things I discovered in my research as I began work on the book The Holy Spirit was how early and late in Scripture the Spirit appears. When we put that together with the fact that, on average, the Spirit is mentioned about once in every 3.6 chapters, it is clear the Spirit has a high profile in the Bible. Here’s a brief summary of this idea I included in the book.
As it relates to pneumatology, for example, the terminology referring to God as Spirit appears extremely early and very late in the text. The second verse of Scripture informs us that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). The third from the last verse reads, “And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’” (Revelation 22:17). Regardless of the implications of the immediate contexts in which these verses are found, and regardless of how many other verses may be found describing the Spirit as “hovering” or as participating in an invitation, the location of these two verses indicates the prominence of the terminology of the Spirit in Scripture. We could say all of Scripture is bracketed by the Holy Spirit.
I tried to do a close reading of Scripture as I proceeded with this project, carefully noting contextual relationships. I discovered not only that all of Scripture is bracketed by the Spirit, but that the first five books are as well.
The Hovering Nature of the Holy Spirit
In Genesis 1:2, the word translated “was hovering” is a participle, suggesting “continuous occurrence of an activity or a mode of being.” As the Pentateuch draws to a close, a form of the word translated “was hovering” appears again for the first time since Genesis 1:2. Here, in the Song of Moses, the Lord is described as an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young (Deuteronomy 32:11). It is significant that this image of God appears both at the beginning and ending of the Torah. As with the entirety of Scripture, we could say that the Torah is bracketed by the Holy Spirit. This is especially true since the fourth verse from the end of the Pentateuch tells us that Joshua “was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him” (Deuteronomy 34:9).
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