Holy Ghost vs. Holy Spirit


#1

Hello All,
I have been wondering about this for a long time. When I go to the Tridentine Mass we always say Holy Ghost. But when I am at the “New Mass”… (for those people who don’t like this term, I am sorry. That’s what it is compared to the centuries the “Old Mass” was around.)…we say the Holy Spirit. Why is that? I mean I know we are talking about the same thing but why the change? I am just curious because ever since I can remember I have been puzzled about this. I hope you can explain it to me. Thanks!


#2

[quote=Tradcat89]Hello All,
I have been wondering about this for a long time. When I go to the Tridentine Mass we always say Holy Ghost. But when I am at the “New Mass”… (for those people who don’t like this term, I am sorry. That’s what it is compared to the centuries the “Old Mass” was around.)…we say the Holy Spirit. Why is that? I mean I know we are talking about the same thing but why the change? I am just curious because ever since I can remember I have been puzzled about this. I hope you can explain it to me. Thanks!
[/quote]

Perhaps someone can give a better answer but I believe it is purely to modernize the language. ‘Ghost’ makes people think of haunted houses and such. ‘Spirit’ doesn’t seem to have quite the same connotation.

‘Spirit’ is closer to the Latin ‘Spiritu’.


#3

It’s simply that for a very long time, the term “ghost” did not have the “Caspar the friendly ghost” connotations that it has now in English. The Latin is “Spiritus.”

Naprous


#4

As far as I know, it’s just a matter of two different translations of Spiritus Sanctus.

IMO, Holy Spirit is a better translation since it is etymologically closer to the Latin and more closely preserves the link to ‘breathing’ found in the various meanings of the Latin word Spiritus.


#5

In the Greek the expression for the Holy Spirit is hagios pneuma which translates as “holy breath” meaning the breath of God. St. Jerome translated this term *pneuma *as spiritus since that also carries the sense of breath. As used in Scripture there is a connotation of life which the English word “ghost” simply does not convey. Thus, the Church has attempted to capture the original intent of the word by using “spirit” which, it seems, carries a livelier connotation.

Deacon Ed


#6

[quote=Tradcat89]Hello All,
I have been wondering about this for a long time. When I go to the Tridentine Mass we always say Holy Ghost. But when I am at the “New Mass”… (for those people who don’t like this term, I am sorry. That’s what it is compared to the centuries the “Old Mass” was around.)…we say the Holy Spirit. Why is that? I mean I know we are talking about the same thing but why the change? I am just curious because ever since I can remember I have been puzzled about this. I hope you can explain it to me. Thanks!
[/quote]

The others have given good replies, but just a further comment. In the Tridentine Mass we always heard Spiritus Sanctus, but in praying in English we said Holy Ghost. Now quite some time before V2 we changed to Holy Spirit, and it was easy to slip because of long time habit. Do you mean that in the Sign of the Cross and prayers in English, you use Holy Ghost at the Tridentine Mass? If so, I wonder why.

Kotton :cool:


#7

[quote=SMHW]Perhaps someone can give a better answer but I believe it is purely to modernize the language. ‘Ghost’ makes people think of haunted houses and such. ‘Spirit’ doesn’t seem to have quite the same connotation.

‘Spirit’ is closer to the Latin ‘Spiritu’.
[/quote]

I think it was Malcolm Muggeridge (:confused: maybe it was W. H. Auden or Evelyn Waugh) who thought that “Holy Spirit” conjured up images of bottles of Scotch and such. I think I’ll stay out of this controversy!


#8

Well, considering the fact that Spiritus is Fourth Declension, one would only have to make that SpiritUS to make it plural… (I use the majuscule letters to denote a long vowel here)

So perhaps Malcolm Muggeridge (or whoever) has a point!

I’ll stick with Spirit, anyway – Ghost just makes me giggle.

Naprous


#9

Actually, holy spirit, in Greek, is translated as “sacred wind”, in Japanese Kamakasi.


#10

Spirit is the English word with Latin derivations. Ghost is an old word with Germanic roots. They are the same thing, one is Latin and the other is Germanic.


#11

The English Language draws from both the Latin/French and from the German, as well as others. This give English two words for many concepts. Ghost derives from the German Geist and Spirit from the Latin Spiritu. Both have the same basic meaning of life force, though both have accumulated an array of secondary connotations.

Servus Christi - Sorry, I was writing while you were posting. - Joe


#12

One of the posts above reminds me of the story of the old computer program that translated
"the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak"
into Russian then back into English, with the result
"strong vodka, rotten meat"

I too have heard that the word ghost did not have the same popular meaning, say 100 years ago, as it does now.
For example, consider the “ghosts” in “A Christmas Carol.” They are not so much like what people think of now as ghosts.


#13

Thanks everyone! I really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question. This has puzzled me for so long. God Bless you all.


#14

It has been almost 8 years since anyone replied to this. I’m not Catholic, but I wondered why the 2 different terms are used and if they have different meanings. Many versions of the Bible don’t use “Holy Ghost” any more, but I notice that the New Advent Bible still uses it and King James Cambridge uses it. I did some research and it seems that the phrase “Holy Ghost” or Holy Spirit is used a lot in the New Testament, but the phrase “Holy Ghost” is not used in the Old Testament. In Fact, I couldn’t find where the phrase “Holy Spirit” is used in the Old Testament. In at least 2 places, the Phrase “Holy Ghost” seems to be clearly used in context to mean the ghost of Jesus:
Matthew 28:19 “19 Going therefore, teach all nations: baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.” (describing the resurrection)
and Acts 1:2 says "until the day on which, giving commandments by the Holy Ghost to the apostles whom he had chosen, he was taken up"
I don’t suppose in this context it matters whether the phrase “Holy Ghost” or “Holy Spirit” is used,.although in the KJ Cambridge, the phrase “Holy Spirit” is used at least twice in the Old Testament. I didn’t have time to check all the references to “Holy Ghost” in New Advent, but in most cases it seems to refer to Jesus - in some cases very clearly - I didn’t find one where it clearly did not refer to Jesus. If I am wrong, please let me know. I’m not trying to argue a point, only trying to research it.


#15

Wow, what an antique thread. The short answer is that, no, there is no difference. “Ghost” comes from a Germanic linguistic root, while “Spirit” comes from a Latin root, but both words ultimately mean “breath.” So does the Greek word pneumatos (which gives us English terms like “pneumonia”), which is the word actually used in the Greek texts of Mt. 28:19 and Acts 1:2. If memory serves me right, the same is true of the Hebrew word, rûach, used in the opening of Genesis, when we read that “the spirit of God moved over the face of the waters.” Anyway, the issue only exists in English, a very cosmopolitan language, because we have picked up multiple words for the same thing from different root languages. In German, for instance, they just have the term “Heiliger Geist” (Geist = Ghost), and in Spanish “Espíritu Santo” (Espíritu = Spirit). Thus you can see that there is no theological difference wrapped up in this diversity of terms – which most languages cannot express at all – just a linguistic difference.

This issue – Holy Spirit vs. Holy Ghost, and related matters – has been discussed at length in several much more recent threads, which you might want to read over for further discussion. Look here and here. Welcome to the forums!


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