Hannah at Pentecost

On Recognizing Spirit Phenomena in Early Jewish Literature

In: Journal of Pentecostal Theology
Reed Carlson Harvard University, Cambridge, USA,

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This essay argues that Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1–2 is an example of a ‘spirit phenomenon’ in the Hebrew Bible. The story displays an uncanny sensitivity to Hannah’s psychological state, which is consistent with how spirit language is used as self-language in biblical literature. Hannah describes herself as a ‘woman of hard spirit’ (1 Sam. 1.15) and engages in a kind of trance, which is disruptive enough to draw the attention of Eli. Through inner-biblical allusion and intentional alterations in the Old Greek and Dead Sea Scroll versions of 1 Samuel, Hannah comes to be associated with other prophetic women in biblical literature. Several Second Temple Jewish interpreters read Hannah as a prophetess and as a practitioner of spirit ecstasy, culminating in Philo’s association of Hannah with Bacchic possession and in Hannah’s experience at Shiloh serving as a model for Pentecost in the book of Acts.

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