David J. McCollough, Ritual Water, Ritual Spirit: An Analysis of the Timing, Mechanism, and Manifestation of Spirit-Reception in Luke-Acts (Milton Keynes UK: Paternoster, 2017). ix + 258 pp. $ 28.19 paperback.
The topic of the Holy Spirit has been greatly debated and discussed throughout history. While most Protestants readily recognize the Holy Spirit as the third Person in the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—much debate continues regarding the initial experience of receiving the Holy Spirit into the life of the believer and how that experience unfolds in the life of the believer. Moreover, the unfolding of the development of the initial elements of belief, repentance, water baptism, prayer, laying of hands, Holy Spirit, and their association has not been made clear in the literature. Therefore, McCollough seeks to share several ideas surrounding the Spirit reception through Luke-Acts by analyzing time, mechanism, and manifestation. Additionally, McCollough utilizes three devices including: narrative progression, entity representation, and focalization.
Further explanation of the three devices is needed. Narrative progression refers to the way that the narrator reveals the parts of the story. Consideration is given to the way that the narrator wishes impact the reader with the manner in which the story unfolds. Entity representation can be defined as, “the mental constructs developed linearly through the text as the reader accumulates data about characters, objects, circumstances, procedures, etc.” (62). The new information fits into the framework that the reader already possesses on the subject. Lastly, focalization is similar to how a photographer uses the camera lens to bring specific focus and attention on a particular subject. Similarly, as a story is being told, the narrator can highlight and bring into focus a particular event or character.
McCollough begins the book with examining theorists’ perspectives on the “ritual dynamics of Christian initiation” of the Spirit and the writings of Luke (5). While reading the different theories may be somewhat cumbersome for the reader, at first, McCollough provides a chronological foundation to consider. Next, McCollough provides a methodology for the Luke-Acts story. He explains literary techniques for the reader to consider to better understand the story as it unfolds. Each technique is defined and discussed for better understanding.
McCollough considers four ways the Spirit may come to the believer. These include: “direct from heaven during baptismal prayer, direct from heaven in response to prayer alone, by laying on of hands or through powerful apostolic preaching” (191). The initial discussion of the association of prayer with the Spirit, from McCullough’s perspective began with the baptism of Jesus. It is during this experience that the reader witnesses the baptism and affirmation of the Spirit and is exposed to the idea that a connection exists. McCollough further expresses that the connection is clearly reinforced in Luke 11:13 and again in Acts 2:38.
In conclusion, McCollough discusses the association of the Spirit with baptism, prayer, laying on of hands, and preaching. He provides a literature review that explains previous perspectives of earlier modern day theorists, and contributes to the literature by explaining that while prayer should accompany baptism, the initiation of the Spirit is not necessarily guaranteed.