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Difference Between Holy Ghost and Holy Spirit

Holy Ghost vs Holy Spirit

The very first translation of the King James Version of the Bible was in 1611. “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” are considered synonymous in modern times and were both used in the King James Version in many instances after being translated from Greek. It was not until so much later when the “Holy Spirit” was used in most Bible translations to primarily signify the third person in the Holy Trinity after the Father and the Son.

The differences are actually in linguistics rather than in a theological sense. The confusion is mainly due to past usage versus present usage and because of the different languages that were incorporated into the modern English language. For example, the word “ghost” is derived from the Old English word “gast” which is closely related to the German word “geist.” In modern English, the word “gast” sneaked into the word “aghast” which means “to be terrified, shocked, or rendered breathless.” Also, the German word “Zeitgeist” directly means “the spirit of times.”

Modern English users rarely use “Holy Ghost” nowadays. According to Bible students, the title “Holy Ghost” was learned from the Authorized Version, the other name for the KJV. The KJV used the title “Holy Spirit” rarely. But with the most recent translations of the Holy Scriptures, the title “Spirit” is used to replace “Ghost” in almost all instances. This came about mainly due to the fact that words do not always hold their true meanings. In the days of King James or Shakespeare, “ghost” meant the live essence of a person which could also be connected to “soul” or “breath” and were considered to be synonymous to “ghost.” In those times, “spirit” was used when pertaining to the departed essence of a person or a paranormal demonic apparition.

In the Middle Ages, the English Bible was transcribed by Christian translators using different words for a Greek word to signify that there are two distinctions. These translators decided that the “Holy Spirit” and the “Holy Ghost” were two entirely different ideas. “Holy Spirit” was used as a description of the Spirit of the Lord, or God’s Spirit, that visited the Hebrew people in the Old Testament. On the other hand, the term “Holy Ghost” was used as a description of the third person or spirit in the Holy Trinity.

In the 6th century, printers of the Bible used capital letters to make a strong distinction between the titles using lower case for “spirit” in the Old Testament and “Spirit” in the New Testament. These differences in translation are not based on the original Greek or Hebrew words. The Greek “pneuma” is used for “ghost” and “hagion” for “holy.” These words were combined as “hagion pneuma” in all instances which have been translated to English as “Ghost” or “Spirit” greatly depending on the interpretation of the translator.

In the Bible, the title “Holy Ghost” was used 90 times in the New Testament of the KJV while “Holy Spirit” appears 4 times. The context of the New Testament usage was from a prophetic point of view. The Bible translators were consistent in retaining the contextual distinction between the many forms of “spirit,” such as “Spirit of the Lord” and “Spirit of God.”

In the 17th century, however, the word “ghost” was synonymous to “spirit.” The Bible translators used both words to stress differences between the ideas of the spirit of God and the third part of the Trinity in the Old Testament. Eventually, though, the word “ghost” was used to pertain to the soul of a departed person and became a scary and eerie being that haunts people. In modern times, all the Bible translations, except for the King James Version, use “Holy Spirit” in all instances including those that the KJV called as the “Holy Ghost.”

Summary:

1.In modern times, the titles “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” are considered synonymous.

2.The differences in the usage of “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” are mostly due to the nuances of the English language affected by the incorporation of words from other languages.

3.In the Middle Ages, the title “Holy Spirit” was used to describe or pertain to God’s Spirit or the Spirit of the Lord, whereas “Holy Ghost” was used to describe the third person in the Holy Trinity.

4.Although based on the Greek words “pneuma hagion,” the translations for “Holy Ghost” and “Holy Spirit” greatly depended on the translator’s understanding and interpretation of the context.

5.In modern times, almost all of the translations of the Bible, except the King James Version, use “Holy Spirit” for all instances.


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1 Comment

  1. For many people a useful meaning of the word “spirit” signifies the overall “attitude” of a person, place, or thing. i.e. The spirit of Christmas. The spirit of baseball. The spirit of America. The spirit of St Louis, etc.

    Likewise, the word “ghost” (i.e. soul) could be more useful when understanding and applying the word to include the overall “personality” of an individual, i.e. emotions, will, desires, etc.

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