Filled with the Spirit

Containing meticulous, up-to-date scholarship yet written in a flowing, enjoyable style, this comprehensive book takes readers on a journey through a breathtaking array of literary texts, encompassing the literature of Israel, early Judaism, the Greco-Roman world, and the New Testament. John R. Levison’s skill with ancient texts—already demonstrated in his acclaimed The Spirit in First-Century Judaism—is here extended to a myriad of other expressions of the Spirit in antiquity.


“[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

“Jack Levison’s Filled with the Spirit is a magisterial overview of the changing view of the Spirit in the Hebrew Bible, early Judaism, and early Christianity. Levison treats the Jewish material not just as background for early Christianity but as a subject of study in its own right. He also makes excursions into the Greco-Roman world to explain the increased interest in ecstasy in the period between the Testaments. This is a lively and engaging study and a first-rate contribution to the history of religion.”

John J. Collins

“In this scholarly tour de force—breathtaking in its scope, depth, and erudition—Levison opens up new vistas of interpretation beyond all our settled categories in both Judaism and Christianity. . . . Texts in Levison’s hands witness to the surging of the vitality of the creator who refuses to let creation wither and close. This rich and generative study will surely not only be defining for time to come but will also evoke much new interpretive work.”

Walter Brueggemann

“John R. Levison undertakes an impressive task here. In the wake of no less a scholar than Hermann Gunkel, he follows the concept of being filled with the Spirit through Israelite, Jewish, and early Christian literatures—and he does so with a thorough knowledge of the sources and their problems and with a constant eye on the deep transformations that the concept underwent in Hellenistic Judaism under the influence of Greek ideas of possession and inspiration. The result is a fascinating contribution to the contemporary study of Mediterranean religions that takes its interdisciplinary approach seriously and situates Hellenistic Judaism and early Christianity in their much wider context of Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions of religion and thought.”

— Fritz Graf

Filled with the Spirit has many virtues, but two deserve special mention. First, Levison treats a wider array of biblical and other ancient sources on the spirit than any predecessor, and does so with uniformly deep knowledge and insight. Second, he persuasively shows how ideological and cultural factors have shaped the history of scholarship on this topic and continue to influence our reading today.”

Susan R. Garrett

“Levison has brought us a broad and provocative study of the spirit in Israelite and in early Jewish and Christian literature. . . . Deserves to be read closely and appreciated for its innovations.”

Alan F. Segal

And in the Holy Breath: A Response to John Levison’s Filled with the Spirit

— Marinus de Jong

Review of Levison’s “Filled with the Spirit”

Mark Batluck, Edinburgh, Scotland
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“Levison emphasizes the vision of the Spirit in Ezekiel, and the dynamic dimension of the Spirit”

— James Purves
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“Filled with the Spirit by John R. Levison is a highly original study of this theme in Israelite, Jewish, and early Christian literature.”

— Roger Stronstad
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“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.”

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