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''Pneuma'' () is an
ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
word for "
breath Breathing (or ventilation) is the process of moving air File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Composition of Earth's atmosphere by volume, excluding water vapor. Lower pie represents trace gases that together compose about 0.043391% of th ...

breath
", and in a religious context for "
spirit Spirit may refer to: *Spirit (animating force) In folk belief, spirit is the vitalism , vital principle or animating force within all life , living things. As recently as 1628 and 1633 respectively, both William Harvey and René Descartes st ...
" or "
soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as ...

soul
". It has various technical meanings for medical writers and philosophers of
classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, ...
, particularly in regard to physiology, and is also used in Greek translations of ''ruach'' רוח in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
, and in the
Greek New Testament The first published edition of the Greek New Testament, the '' Novum Instrumentum omne'', was produced by Erasmus in 1516. Modern translations of the Greek New Testament are mostly based on the '' Novum Testamentum Graece'', which is the Nestle- Al ...
. In classical philosophy, it is distinguishable from ''
psyche Psyche (''Psyché'' in French) is the Greek term for "soul" or "spirit" (ψυχή). It may also refer to: Psychology * Psyche (psychology), the totality of the human mind, conscious and unconscious * Psyche (book), ''Psyche'' (book), an 1846 boo ...
'' (), which originally meant "breath of life", but is regularly translated as "spirit" or most often "
soul In many religious, philosophical, and myth Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually non-humans, such as ...
".


Classical antiquity


Presocratics

, "air in motion, breath, wind", is equivalent in the
material monismMaterial monism is a Presocratic belief which provides an explanation of the physical world by saying that all of the world's objects are composed of a single element. Among the material monists were the three Milesian philosophers: Thales Thal ...
of Anaximenes to (, "air") as the element from which all else originated. This usage is the earliest extant occurrence of the term in philosophy. A quotation from Anaximenes observes that "just as our soul (''psyche''), being air (), holds us together, so do breath () and air () encompass the whole world." In this early usage, and are synonymous.


Ancient Greek medical theory

In
ancient Greek medicine Ancient Greek medicine was a compilation of theories and practices that were constantly expanding through new ideologies and trials. Many components were considered in ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language us ...
, ''pneuma'' is the form of circulating
air The atmosphere of Earth is the layer of gas Gas is one of the four fundamental states of matter In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (ph ...
necessary for the systemic functioning of vital organs. It is the material that sustains
consciousness Consciousness, at its simplest, is sentience or awareness of internal and external existence. Despite millennia of analyses, definitions, explanations and debates by philosophers and scientists, consciousness remains puzzling and controversial ...

consciousness
in a body. According to Diocles and
Praxagoras Praxagoras ( grc, Πραξαγόρας ὁ Κῷος) was a figure of medicine in ancient Greece Ancient Greek medicine was a compilation of theories and practices that were constantly expanding through new ideologies and trials. Many components ...
, the psychic pneuma mediates between the
heart The heart is a muscular MUSCULAR (DS-200B), located in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use ...

heart
, regarded as the seat of
Mind The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fun ...

Mind
in some
physiological Physiology (; ) is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...
theories of ancient medicine, and the
brain A brain is an organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tis ...

brain
. The disciples of
Hippocrates Hippocrates of Kos (; grc-gre, Ἱπποκράτης ὁ Κῷος, Hippokrátēs ho Kôios; ), also known as Hippocrates II, was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ε ...

Hippocrates
explained the maintenance of
vital heatVital heat, also called innate or natural heat, or ''calidum innatum'', is a term in Ancient Greek medicine and philosophy that has generally referred to the heat produced within the body, usually the heat produced by the heart and the circulatory sy ...
to be the function of the breath within the organism. Around 300 BC,
Praxagoras Praxagoras ( grc, Πραξαγόρας ὁ Κῷος) was a figure of medicine in ancient Greece Ancient Greek medicine was a compilation of theories and practices that were constantly expanding through new ideologies and trials. Many components ...
discovered the distinction between the
arteries An artery (plural arteries) () is a blood vessel that takes blood away from the heart to one or more parts of the body (tissues, lungs, brain etc.). Most arteries carry oxygenated blood; the two exceptions are the pulmonary arteries, pulmonary ...
and the
veins Veins are blood vessels The blood vessels are the components of the circulatory system The circulatory system, also called the cardiovascular system or the vascular system, is an organ system An organ system is a biological system A b ...

veins
, although close studies of vascular anatomy had been ongoing since at least Diogenes of Apollonia. In the corpse arteries are empty; hence, in the light of these preconceptions they were declared to be vessels for conveying ''pneuma'' to the different parts of the body. A generation afterwards,
Erasistratus Erasistratus (; grc-gre, Ἐρασίστρατος; c. 304 – c. 250 BC) was a Greek anatomist and royal physician under Seleucus I Nicator Seleucus I Nicator (; ; grc-gre, Σέλευκος Νικάτωρ, Séleukos Nikátōr, Seleucus the Vi ...
made this the basis of a new theory of
disease A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure A structure is an arrangement and organization of interrelated elements in a material object or system A system is a group of Interaction, interactin ...
s and their treatment. The ''pneuma'', inhaled from the outside air, rushes through the arteries till it reaches the various centres, especially the
brain A brain is an organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's tis ...

brain
and the
heart The heart is a muscular MUSCULAR (DS-200B), located in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use ...

heart
, and there causes thought and organic movement.


Aristotle

The "connate pneuma" of
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
is the warm mobile "air" that in the sperm transmits the capacity for locomotion and certain sensations to the offspring. These movements derive from the soul of the parent and are embodied by the ''pneuma'' as a material substance in semen. ''Pneuma'' is necessary for life, and as in medical theory is involved with the "vital heat," but the Aristotelian ''pneuma'' is less precisely and thoroughly defined than that of the Stoics.


Stoic ''pneuma''

In
Stoic philosophy Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophyHellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the ph ...
, ''pneuma'' is the concept of the "breath of life," a mixture of the elements air (in motion) and fire (as warmth). For the Stoics, ''pneuma'' is the active, generative principle that organizes both the individual and the
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prev ...

cosmos
. In its highest form, ''pneuma'' constitutes the human soul (''psychê''), which is a fragment of the ''pneuma'' that is the soul of God (
Zeus Zeus or , , ; grc, Δῐός, ''Diós'', label=genitive In grammar In linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Ling ...

Zeus
). As a force that structures
matter In classical physics Classical physics is a group of physics theories that predate modern, more complete, or more widely applicable theories. If a currently accepted theory is considered to be modern, and its introduction represented a major ...
, it exists even in inanimate objects. In the foreword to his 1964 translation of Marcus Aurelius' ''
Meditations ''Meditations'' () is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a from 161 to 180 and a philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the (a term coined s ...

Meditations
'', Maxwell Staniforth writes:
Cleanthes Cleanthes (; grc-gre, Κλεάνθης ''Kleanthēs''; c. 330 BC – c. 230 BC), of Assos, was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, i ...
, wishing to give more explicit meaning to 'creative fire', had been the first to hit upon the term ''pneuma'', or 'spirit', to describe it. Like fire, this intelligent 'spirit' was imagined as a tenuous substance akin to a current of air or breath, but essentially possessing the quality of warmth; it was immanent in the universe as God, and in man as the soul and life-giving principle.


Judaism and Christianity

In
Judaic Judaism is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, monotheism, monotheistic, and ethnic religion comprising the collective religious, cultural, and legal tradition and civilization of the Jewish people. It has its roots as an organized religion i ...
and
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
usage, ''pneuma'' is a common word for "spirit" in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
and the Greek New Testament. At John 3:5, for example, ''pneuma'' is the Greek word translated into English as "spirit": "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit (pneuma), he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." In some translations such as the King James version, however, ''pneuma'' is then translated as "wind" in verse eight, followed by the rendering "Spirit": "The wind (pneuma) bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit (pneuma)."
Philo Philo of Alexandria (; grc, Φίλων, Phílōn; he, , Yedidia (Jedediah) HaCohen; ), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is t ...

Philo
, a 1st-century Hellenistic Jewish philosopher, commented on the use of , rather than , in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
translation of . Philo explains that, in his view, ''pneuma'' is for the light breathing of human men while the stronger ''pnoē'' was used for the divine Spirit.


See also

* ''Pneuma akatharton'',
unclean spirit In English translations of the Bible Partial Bible translations The Bible has been translated into many languages from the biblical languages of Biblical Hebrew, Hebrew, Biblical Aramaic, Aramaic and Koine Greek, Greek. the full Bible ...
* ''Pneuma'' journal, subtitled ''The Journal of the Society for Pentecostal Studies'' * Pneuma (song) *
Pneumatic (Gnosticism) The pneumatics ("spiritual", from Greek , "spirit") were, in Gnosticism Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD ...
*
Pneumatology Pneumatology refers to a particular discipline within Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Christianity, Christian belief and practice. * help them better underst ...
*
Prana In yoga Yoga (; sa, योग, lit=yoke' or 'union ) is a group of Asana, physical, mind, mental, and Spirituality#Asian traditions, spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in History of India, ancient India, aimed at cont ...
* *
Rūḥ The Holy Spirit ( ar, روح القدس, '' ruh al-qudus'') is mentioned four times in the Quran The Quran (, ; ar, القرآن, translit=al-Qurʼān, lit=the recitation, ), also romanized Qur'an or Koran, is the central religious text ...


References


External links

*{{wiktionary-inline, pneuma Concepts in ancient Greek metaphysics Vitalism New Testament Greek words and phrases