The expressions 'Holy Ghost' and 'world without end' are taken from the Book of Common Prayer and were used to make a linguistic match when translating. Americans who know the US BCP (eg the 1979 edn) will be familiar with them.
Translating the liturgy into English
Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:33 PM
The Greek word which the KJV translates as 'gave up the ghost' is ἐξέπνευσεν and means only, He breathed His last. It has no connection with the Holy Spirit. The expression 'Holy Ghost' comes from old West Germanic and Friesian languages and means the spirit of a person. It does not have the modern meaning of a ghost as a phantom.
Edited by Andreas Moran, 23 April 2014 - 09:37 PM.
Posted 09 May 2014 - 05:02 PM
Oh. Why does the BCP use "Holy Ghost" for the third Person of the Holy Trinity? I thought that that section was related but Oh well. At least the Holy Spirit can't be confused with a scary phenomenon. The Hebrew ruach would make sense as breath, and Spirit is just a Latinate form for breath.
Posted 09 May 2014 - 07:29 PM
As indicated, 'Holy Ghost' reflects the Germanic and Friesian origins of the English language. Thus, in German today, they have 'Der Heilige Geist'. 'Holy Spirit' does appear very occasionally in the 1549 BCP (and therefore in the 1662 version) but 'Holy Ghost' appears as the received title of the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. Indeed, the OED shows only one use of 'Holy Spirit' in any book (a Prymer of 1420) before 1549.
Posted 10 May 2014 - 10:45 AM
It may be worth adding that the meaning of 'ghost' in very early languages such as Old Saxon as the apparition of the spirit of a dead person and something frightening was altered by the use in Christian writing of the word to translate the Latin 'spiritus' which means 'breath' and so is an accurate translation of the Greek 'πνεῦμα'. My own view, for what it is worth, is that 'Spirit' is to be preferred. But then I was never a practising Anglican or Protestant so 'Holy Ghost' has no resonance for me.
Edited by Andreas Moran, 10 May 2014 - 10:47 AM.
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