The Spirit is Moving

New Pathways in Pneumatology

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Gijsbert van den Brink, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman, Maarten Wisse
Studies in Reformed Theology
  • Boston, MA: 
    Brill Publishers
    , February
     410 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


The Spirit is Moving: New Pathways in Pneumatology is a tribute to Cornelis Van der Kooi, professor of systematic theology at the faculty of religion and theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, where he taught from 1992 until 2018. Van der Koi is a world-renowned Reformed theologian with Barthian leanings who “has taken the lead in re-visiting pneumatology in response to pressing issues and current development” (6). A large part of his legacy was to have been “one of the first to decry the dismissive attitude towards Pentecostalism which used to be common in many official manuals of theology” (6). For Van der Koi, Pentecostalism is a movement that “forcefully awakens the church out of its oblivion of the Spirit” (6). 

Edited by Gijsbert van den Brink, Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman, and Maarten Wisse, the book is divided into five parts. The first part explores the Spirit’s relationship to the Bible. The first essay by Eep Talstra explores “ways of reading the Bible that would allow us to remain genuinely surprised about God’s biography written down in it, instead of knowing it all along before one has begun to read” (24). Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte follows by examining Romans 1:4’s two debated and enduring issues of the meaning of appointed Son of God and the spirit of holiness.

In a third essay, Eveline Staalduine-Sulman explores the Spirit of God or God’s Spirit in the Jewish tradition, particularly through the lens of the Targumic interpretations of the Old Testament in the work of 2nd century CE Targum Jonathan. Erik A. de Boer examines the term theopneutos as used in 2 Timothy 3:16 by retrieving its use by the Church Fathers. This first part closes with an essay by Arnold Huijgen who builds on Van der Koi’s writings on the extra-calvinisticum.

The second part explores the Spirit’s relationship to the Christ. Henk A. Bakker looks to the early Judeo-Christian identity of pneuma-Christology particularly focusing on the Odes of Solomon (Fortress, 2009). Gerrit C. van de Kamp examines theandric language in light of the theologies of David Coffey and Piet Schoonenberg. Bruce McCormack questions Robert W. Jenson’s claims of a pneumatological defect on Barth’s theology. A fourth article written by Abraham van De Beek closely looks at the Van der Koi’s work on Barth. Finally, Martien Brinkman explores the relationship of the Spirit and Christ through the lens of vicarious substitution.   

The third part explores the Spirit’s relationship to the world. Jan Veenhof traces and investigates the Spirit and wisdom in both the Old and New Testaments. Gijsbert van Den Brink explores the role of the Holy Spirit in God’s work of creation by focusing on the notion of biological emergence. Richard J. Mouw explores and argues for a neo-Calvinist pneumatological approach to non-Christian religions. A final essay by Brenno van Den Toren searches and questions the criteria used for discerning the Spirit in other religions.   

The fourth part explores the Spirit’s relationship to the world. Willem van Vlaustin retrieves the doctrine of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of the New England pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards. Akke van der Kooi explores the relation of Spirit and person by engaging the work of Dutch theologian Oepke Noordmans. In the third essay, Gerard C. den Hertog draws on the work of Johannes Pieter Versteeg in search for a eschatological pneumatology between the Spirit and the risen Christ. Michael Welker explores theodicy from the perspective of pneumatology. A final essay by Pieter Vos focuses on the work of the Spirit in the cultivation of the Christian virtues in light of Galatians 5.

The fifth part explores the Spirit’s relationship to the Christian community. Carl J. Bosma reflects on prayer and the Holy Spirit in light of the Gospel of Luke and Acts. Marten Wisse evaluates the role of the Holy Spirit in the sacraments.  Miranda Klaver traces developments in Pentecostal and charismatic Christianity through the lens of ‘mediation.’ Cory B. Wilson explores the question: “What gifts from the Holy Spirit await the church in the West if they would attentively listen and learn from their brothers and sisters in the global south?” (363). A final essay by Margriet A. Th. Van der Kooi-Dijkstra, wife of Cornelis Van der Koi and chaplain at a hospital examines how her “theological understanding of the work of the Spirit is helpful in being guided and learning to love and discern” (379). 

The Spirit is Moving is a commendable, substantive and rich reading on pneumatology for various reasons. First, the book honors biblical historical orthodoxy, particularly its Reformed classic heritage, while seriously and rigorously engaging and listening to contemporary voices and issues. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed and its five relations of the Holy Spirit animates and drives this work without ignoring the realities and challenges of our twenty-first century milieu. Second, the volume embodies an eclectic and comprehensive group of scholars and ecclesial practitioners who speak to the catholicity of the church in its theological identities and practices.

Though most contributors are Dutch, their views and reach are both contextual and inclusive. Third, the work not only reveals a mosaic of research paradigms and procedures, but also embodies an open, ongoing, and inviting conversation that gestures towards many pneumatological insights and potential future directions as well. A close reading of The Spirit is Moving displays ways to research pneumatology further. Fourth, the book has the capacity to turn the serious student and practitioner of pneumatology into a producer of work rather than just a consumer. Finally, the biggest contribution of this work is the recognition that a pneumatological renaissance must find ways to connect and engage the church, the community, the academy, and the world, places where the Spirit is moving.


About the Reviewer(s): 

David A. Escobar Arcay is Adjunct Instructor at South Florida Bible College and Theological Seminary and Western Theological Seminary, and is a doctoral student in Divinity at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Date of Review: 
September 13, 2020
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Gijsbert van den Brink is Professor for Theology and Science at the Faculty of Religion and Theology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman is Professor of Reception History of the Hebrew Bible in Antiquity at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Maarten Wisse is Professor of Dogmatics at the Protestant Theological University in Amsterdam.



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