A Boundless God

Who knew that a word study could read like an adventure story—welcome to the world of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. As Jack Levison guides us through the various uses of the word in the Hebrew Scriptures, he offers insight into the refreshment, the surprise, the danger, and the boundlessness of the Spirit of God. Reading this book instantly enhanced my own appreciation for how the New Testament speaks of the Holy Spirit not in a vacuum but in continuity with the Old Testament witness. This is an exciting, illuminating read from beginning to end. —Peter Gosnell, professor of religion, Muskingum University

Christianity Today Book Award

Jack cracks open the challenging and provocative world of the Spirit in the Old Testament, offering readers cogent and comprehensive insights. In what CT calls an adventure story, Jack reveals the surprising and rich nuances of rûah in the Old Testament. This is an essential accomplishment because the word rûah (commonly translated as breathwindspirit, or Spirit) occurs in the Old Testament 378 times–more frequently than torah, shalom, or Sabbath.

This book plunges readers into an imaginative realm of fresh senses, sounds, and skills. It recaptures Israel’s tenacious sense of the Spirit’s energy as it was expressed by a series of vibrant verbs: blowingbreathingcomingrestingpassingpouringfillingcleansingstanding, and guiding. Readers will encounter all of the Old Testament expressions of the Spirit —passages that challenge the conventional, confront the commonplace, and transport us to a world of wisdom, work, and wonder.

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A boundless God


“Jack Levison is one of the best “writers” in the whole guild of biblical scholars. His prose is clear and elegant and avoids the mundane. Read him for his prose, I sometimes tell students.”

Scott Mcknight — Jesus Creed

“In this fluent and elegant book, Jack Levison makes two points of fundamental importance for Christian theology: (1) the Christian understanding of the spirit must be grounded in the multifaceted rûaḥ (breath, wind, spirit) of the Hebrew Bible, and ( 2) the saving spirit of God cannot be divorced from the spirit/breath that gives life. A remarkable and subtle contribution to biblical theology.”

John J. Collins, Yale Divinity School

“From the spirit that broods over the face of the deep in Genesis to a remnant of the spirit found in Malachi, the Old Testament is saturated with the holy breath, wind, and spirit of God. A Boundless God is a remarkable achievement, alerting the reader to the ubiquitous and transforming presence of the holy spirit throughout the Old Testament.”

Brian Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life Church, St. Joseph, Missouri; author of Postcards from Babylon

“It’s well known that the Hebrew word for spirit is also the word for wind and for breath, but I don’t think anyone has done as much with that fact as Levison in this book. A beautiful combination of the academic and the nurturing, it works by careful, thoughtful, life-giving study of whole passages where rûaḥ appears, and it invites measured and reflective assimilation.”

John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary

“A careful study of rûaḥ from the Jewish Scriptures that takes the reader on a journey into an expansive vision for what is meant by talk of the breath, wind, spirit, or Spirit of God. Readers will be challenged to lay down old paradigms and dichotomies and to embrace an understanding of the spirit that is far more nuanced than before.”

Lucy Peppiatt, Westminster Theological Centre, United Kingdom

“By allowing the Hebrew Scriptures to speak with their own voice, Levison has demonstrated that spirit in the witness of ancient Israel overflows our neatly drawn theological boundaries. The result is a fresh theological vision of the mystery of life that we share with all of creation. I found this book richly stimulating.”

Frank D. Macchia, Vanguard University of Southern California; Centre for Pentecostal and Charismatic Studies, Bangor University, Wales, United Kingdom