RPM, Volume 11, Number 41, October 11 to October 17 2009

Befriending the Soul to Live the Good Life

Part I

By Mark A. Pinson

Mark Pinson lives and works in the Atlanta, Georgia area. He and his wife, Shannon, are proud parents of their two-year-old son, Tyler. Mark, Shannon and Tyler also attend Cumberland Community Church where Mark is currently serving the last year of a three-year elder board rotation. While postgraduate study plans have not been finalized, Mark is interested in pursuing a ministry position where he could glorify God through teaching, devotional writing and leading others in spiritual formation.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Purpose and Method
  • Chapter 2: The Understanding of the soul from Adam to Aristotle
    • The Ancient Near East Classical Philosophy
    • Plato
    • Aristotle
  • Chapter 3: Biblical Analysis
    • What the Old Testament Reveals About the "Soul"
    • What the New Testament Reveals About the "Soul"
    • What Jesus Reveals About the "Soul"
  • Chapter 4: Philosophical and Theological Analysis
    • Secular Philosophy
    • The Fathers and Calvin, The Confession, and Edwards
    • Reformed Systematic Theologians
    • Contemporary Evangelical Philosophers
  • Chapter 5: Cultural Analysis
    • How did we get where we are?
    • (The abandonment of the soul by the church)
    • We're Here — Our Post Modern Position
  • Chapter 6: Conclusion
    • Practical and Pastoral
    • The Reality of Union with Christ
    • The Reality of Already
    • The Reality of Training
    • The Hard and Easy Things to Do
    • The Reality of Grace
    • Final Words
  • Bibliography

Chapter 1: Purpose and Method

People are dispensing with their inner life at the expense of their total life. Either from external pressures, educational experience and intellectual bias, or cultural forces seeming beyond their control, they have abdicated the belief that their souls have any needs outside of basic necessities. Some have relinquished their belief in the soul completely. The more startling observation is that these are people within the Protestant evangelical church. I hope to challenge both of these insensibilities.

The great commandment in Deuteronomy 6:5 and in Matthew 22:37 asserts, "love the Lord our God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." 1 What does it mean to love God with all of your soul? How do we remain faithful to this command as it relates to the soul? Does a life of discipleship allow us to experience the reality of fulfillment and faithfulness to this command? The tide of worldliness discourages it and the church appears to have lost its effectiveness in preserving such fidelity.

Through a review of historical understandings (in both philosophy and theology), contemporary analysis of Biblical thought as well as theological considerations of what is meant by the "soul," it is my desire that we will consider the reality of the soul as a valid belief for our time. It is also my hope, that as we come to understand what the soul is and does, we will be motivated to increase our friendliness toward its keeping.

Last, it is essential that the church recover her role as equipper and encourager of the Christian by leading them into a friendship with their soul. With this in mind, we will consider how the church has lost this role and what it needs to do to recapture it.

Chapter 2: The Understanding of the soul from Adam to Aristotle

In order to view the historical understanding of the soul within the ancient Near Eastern context, it is important to understand that the soul was seen in light of the total person or life. Therefore, we must understand the word soul in terms of its relation to anthropology. Fortunately, sources outside of the Bible add to our knowledge for our historical understanding of the term for "soul" because the Hebrew meaning was similar to the Akkadian and Ugaritic cognate. As a result, the Old Testament does not provide strict novelty when speaking about human nature. John Hick points this out succinctly in his essay, Immortality and Resurrection:
Some kind of distinction between physical body and immaterial or semi-material soul seems to be as old as human culture; the existence of such a distinction has been indicated by the manner of burial of the earliest human skeletons yet discovered. Anthropologists offer various conjectures about the origin of the distinction: perhaps it was first suggested by memories of dead persons; by dreams of them; by the sight of reflections of oneself in water and other bright surfaces; or by meditation upon the significance of religious rites which grew up spontaneously in face of the fact of death. 2
Although the Hebrews viewed man in his unity, they did understand different tendencies or manifestations in that life that may be personified by different parts of the body. These are noted by: 1) the head as the seat of knowledge and concentration of life, 2) the face as an expression of emotions, 3) the hand as the seat of power, 4) the foot as a lesser source of power than the hand and also used figuratively with negative connotations, 5) the inner organs which express specific qualities of human nature, and 6) the heart which expresses inwardness and is the center of life and epitome of personhood. As a result, we can see that their understanding of the soul influenced each aspect of their anthropology (i.e., the correlation between the usage of the Hebrew word for soul, nephesh, and their understanding of the man). Some Old Testament scholars have suggested that the Hebrews understood the body to be the soul in its external form, 3 which would allow for a unity with multiple manifestations (e.g., a complex monism).

The ancient Near Eastern culture also understood that the soul of the man was influenced by the spirit. The ancients understood the spirit as the source of life outside of man and therefore, separate from the soul. It was a power from "on high" and the power that created the nephesh 4 (Genesis 2:7). Although the spirit is understood as that element in man which is directly related to God, it is the nephesh that is understood to have the decisive part in relating to God. It is this relational character (to God) that is the hallmark of ancient Near Eastern anthropology. Man is never understood in purely conceptual terms but always in a specific situation which is under constant threat. The soul must be in contact with the source of life (God) in order for man to counter the threat and fulfill all that he is. This is the true life. 5 While this is the dominant thought that permeates the covenant people of the ancient Near East, we begin to see a change in this understanding when the nation of Israel shifts their focus from a people with a divine purpose (due to the disintegration of the body politic [theocracy]) to the thought of an individual life that transcended present existence in order for the fulfillment of their purpose. This can be seen from the dispute over the resurrection between the Pharisees and Sadducees. 6 This change in anthropology provided an opportunity for Greek philosophy to influence the early church. We will now move to that epoch of thought as we continue to review the historical understanding of the soul.

Philosophy began with pre-Platonic (or pre-Socratic) thought which dominated Greek culture from 600 to 400 B.C. These abstract materialists did not develop a "doctrine" of the soul per se, but they did attempt to provide the first non-mythical explanation for a comprehensive account of reality. They sought the fundamental order of things (the logos) and the role it played as they sought an underlying and unifying material principle. 7 The next school of thought, as the above designation suggests, centered on Platonic (or Socratic) and Aristotelian philosophy. The current of classic Greek philosophy ran through Socrates who had his teaching "recorded" by Plato who later had his thoughts amended by Aristotle. These three philosophers represent the authority regarding a Greek understanding of the soul.

Plato's doctrine of the soul began with his belief in the preexistence of the soul as pure mind or reason (nous). However, due to its fall from the divine, it became the psyche. 8 The soul was absolute existence. 9 However, this existence, which is invisible, was fettered by the body which was viewed as the source of endless troubles. The body imprisoned the soul and, as a result, pure knowledge could not be obtained. Death was to be welcomed as that release which would allow true and pure knowledge to exist of itself (and in relation to other souls) as a return to its divine state. With the body out of the way, the soul would live in a state known as wisdom where it remained eternal (not just immortal), unchangeable, intelligible, rational, uniform, and indissoluble. 10 Furthermore, Plato discerned three parts to the soul (trichotomy) which he made analogous to the state. 11 The first part is the rational aspect containing the mind and intellect which thinks, discerns and makes judgments between what is true and what is false (real versus apparent). These rational decisions are made wisely when life is properly lived. The second part of the soul is the appetite or desire which is the locus of hunger, thirst and passion or any other irrational desire. The third is the spirited part which enables us to feel anger or indignation. The appetites were in constant tension with the intellect. The spirited part and the rational part were viewed as allies against the passions. 12

Plato utilized the Pythagorean idea of transmigration [metempsychosis] 13 to explain what happened to the soul after it is separated from the body at the body's demise. He explained the concept in mythical (or allegorical) terms 14 since no verifiable proof was available, and he wanted to delineate his belief in the soul from that of the Pythagoreans (who believed soul was in harmony with the organism, therefore, unified and not a duality). 15

Aristotle was a student of Plato, and while they agreed on nominal cues, Aristotle differed from Plato in his approach to understanding reality. Whereas Plato moved his arguments from universal ideas to particulars, Aristotle moved his abstraction from the particular to the universal. This had an impact on their belief about the soul as Plato sought to understand "forms" as separate from the individual, and Aristotle taught that the "forms" were immanent (within the individual). This resulted in agreement over the soul as the principle form of life but in disagreement over the soul as duality. 16 Aristotle taught that the soul and the body were a unity as he notes in On the Soul, "We do not, therefore, have to inquire whether the soul and the body are one, just as we do not have to inquire whether the wax and its shape, or in general the matter of any given thing and that of which it is the matter, are one. ‘Unity' and ‘being' are used in many senses, but the dominant sense is that of actuality." 17 For Aristotle, the soul was the substance, "form," that provides the essence of the living thing. It is the organizing principle of the body. 18 It is the actuality of life that is attributed to and or received by the potential in the material substance. For example, the soul of an eye would be its sight if the eye were an animal (or person). When the soul is removed, in this case "sight," the essence vanishes and the eye is an eye only in the nominal sense. Therefore, the soul is not independent material inside the body (or a body within a body so to speak), but is the fundamental nature which designates the existence of an individual as being alive. 19 The highest "level" of the soul was the rational one (as opposed to the lower levels of animal and plant souls), and this was found only in human beings. 20 This unity of the soul and body led Aristotle to contend that when the matter of the living body dies, the soul as its form perishes along with it. 21

This historical context allows us to see where we have come from and those who have influenced our understanding of the soul. This is important if we are to "take every thought captive" 22 during the considerations of this paper. While these understandings provide some understanding of our current conceptual framework regarding the soul, they should not be advanced beyond their congruency with biblical truth. This truth is what we must now survey.

Chapter 3: Biblical Analysis

What the Old Testament Reveals About the "Soul"

There are three Hebrew words for soul. Nephesh is the most frequent usage at over nine hundred occurrences followed by leb (heart or inner man) at twenty-five occurrences and hayyah (living thing) at five occurrences with ruach (spirit) and es/aner (man) rendered twice and once respectively. 23 We will focus our survey on the multiple uses of nephesh due to its fluid and dynamic aspect as well as its frequency. The meanings between uses vary but are related in Hebrew thought by the fact that man is seen as a unity 24 and, as a result, each connotation brings unique, but specific textures to form a rich understanding of man in his specific situation.

There are five general categories of use for nephesh. Our survey will move through more familiar understandings to the less common usage. However, infrequent use does not necessarily correlate to a reduction in the importance of the definition. Emphasis will be governed by context.

The first definition of nephesh, by its root word, is "breath or exhalation" which may be a derivative of its original meaning of "throat" or "gullet" (cf. Isaiah 5:14). 25 It is introduced as "breath" at the very beginning of the Old Testament as noted in Genesis 1:30 (cf. Isaiah 40:7) "And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life…" declaring that breathing is the deciding mark of a living creature (also noted in Deuteronomy 20:16, Joshua 10:40, 11:11, 14 and 1 Kings 15:29, 17:17 here, unfortunately, in negative connotations). This physical, bodily activity is also described in Isaiah 42:14 and in instances where one has to catch "their breath" as a means of refreshment as noted in Exodus 23:12, 31:17 and 2 Samuel 16:14. God's breath is associated with the term as well in Genesis 2:7, "then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature." In this context, it does not refer to the Lord's exhalation but to Adam as a living soul or being as the result of God's breath. 26

For the second usage, we move from breathing to eating as nephesh may also refer to the appetite. This may be recognition of both physical and volitional hunger. The first connotation is seen in Hosea 9:4, "They shall not pour drink offerings of wine to the Lord, and their sacrifices shall not please him. It shall be like mourners' bread to them; all who eat of it shall be defiled; for their bread shall be for their hunger only; it shall not come to the house of the Lord." This physical hunger is also referenced in Deuteronomy 23:24, Proverbs 10:3 and 16:26. Volitional hunger appears as a matter of the will or desire as referred to in Psalm 27:12 "Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence." The Old Testament frequently speaks about the will or desire with negative or distressing implications as in Genesis 23:8, Exodus 15:9, Psalm 27:12, Proverbs 13:2 and 19:2. 27 In dealing with these fundamental realities of life (hunger, thirst, passions), it is important to note that usage here only relates to them as an expression in and of themselves with no orienting object.

Nephesh is used approximately twenty times as the subject for that which has desires. It stands in contrast to our above definition by being the thing that craves chocolate cake, cheeseburgers, cold beer, a nap, sex, etc. (Genesis 34:3, 8, Deuteronomy 12:20, 14:26, Jeremiah 2:24). 28 The nephesh is not limited to expressing physical desires but may also attempt to satisfy spiritual desires. In this usage, nephesh reaches its full expression in pursuit of God as it stands in relationship to Him. A vivid illustration of this is found in Psalm 63:1, "O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Similar manifestations are revealed in Psalm 84:2, 119:20, 130:5, 143:6, 8). In relationship to God, the nephesh comes to its fullness and ultimately to its satisfaction. 29 The soul is an object in and of itself that also contains desires, yearnings and appetites. In the same way we speak of our own personal hunger or thirst, the same can be said of the soul as in Psalm 107:9. "For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things." This same idea is also conveyed in Proverbs 25:25, "Like cold water to a thirsty soul so is good news from a far country." Waltke expresses it succinctly in his Theological Workbook of the Old Testament under entry number 1395a:

As Isa 26:8-9 suggests, the object of that which the soul craves may be a person. The soul's thirst or language may be directed toward God. The psalmist brings the two notions together thus: "As the deer parts for the water-courses, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and appear before God" (Psa 42:1, 2 [H 2, 3]; cf. Psa 63:2). In addition to God's presence the soul may long for the law (Psa 119:20), salvation (Psa 119:81); his courts (Psa 84:3)….Thus nephesh occurs with many verbs denoting "Yearning"; cf. the idiom he set his soul "to long after, yearn" for someone, something (Deut 24:15; Hos 4:8; Prov 19:18; Jer 22:27; Jer 44:14; etc.). The soul waits for [ qwh ] the Lord (Psa 130:5), seeks [ drsh ] him (Lam 3:25)….Thus in numerous passages reference is made to the inclination or disinclination of the soul. It is frequently used in connection with "love." The maiden says to her lover: "Tell me, O you whom my soul loves" (Song 1:7; and repeatedly in Song 3:1-4; cf. Jer 12:7; Gen 34:3). It is used not only of the man-woman relationship, but also of the closest human friendships; e.g. of David and Jonathan: "The soul of Jonathan was bound [qashar] with the soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul." So also it speaks of man's love for God. The psalmist says: "My soul clings [ d¹baq] to you" (Psa 63:9).
This close connection between the two uses of nephesh as both inclination and object results in an understanding and use of nephesh that indicates the total life of man. But before we unpack this use, it is important to remind ourselves that in making these divisions for a more complete understanding, we are close to compromising the idea of man as a unity under the Old Testament mindset. This is accentuated by the fact that, under a fourth usage, nephesh was used not only in reference to a living body, but also could indicate the dead body as the nephesh of that person since the Hebrew anthropology held no place for a division between body and soul. 30 The nephesh has no existence apart from the corporeal individual. 31 Therefore, we can underscore the fifth explanation of nephesh as the total nature of man. David expresses this notion in Psalm 23:3, "He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake." This usage is frequent when it is the object of the verb in comparison to our previous discussion regarding "desires/inclinations" where it is usually noted as the subject of the verb. This life is not the abstract idea of it ("what are you going to do with your life?") apart from a personality, but instead it is the very idea of an individual's personal and precious living existence. Examples are found in Abraham's attempts to survive a beautiful wife (Genesis 12:13, 20:7) and with Lot's refuge in Zoar (Genesis 19:20).

The exclamation point to this usage of the comprehensive and precious, vital life of the individual is found in Leviticus 17:11, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life." 32 On this rendering, we must struggle through our Greco-Roman influences in order to appreciate the totality of what is being conveyed. Remembering the Shema may assist us as we attempt to comprehend the Jewish thought of a total man for it was the same thought they had for God. "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one (Deuteronomy 6:4)."

What the New Testament Reveals About the "Soul"

As we move from the Old Testament and Hebrew mindset with its singular conceptual framework to the New Testament with its common Greek language, we must consider the Greek influences that would operate on the usage of the word "soul." The Greek word is transliterated as psyche. 33 Therefore, we not only have to consider the Greek influences attached to this word, but we must also suspend our current psychological bias regarding it. While psyche occurs only 101 times in the New Testament, the word is nuanced with many different arrays of usage making one stand alone definition difficult. 34 At the same time, this multi-faceted characteristic forces us to be aware of the many contexts that we find it in, coupled with the range of its usages which helps to draw the richness of its meaning.

Fifty percent of the word's total usage is found in the gospels and the majority of that comes from the narrative portions of the New Testament. Paul uses the term thirteen times and it is found only a few times in the letters of James, Peter and John. In John's Revelation, it is used seven times. 35 Therefore, we find that all of the New Testament authors were familiar with the word and, as we will see, they were also able to utilize each meaning across a variety of contexts.

There are five primary glosses of the word. 36 The approach taken with these terms is to begin with the highest or most over-arching definition possible and then to spiral down to a more narrow, precise usage. The hope is that this will provide the needed structure for how we will and should view the soul, and therefore, why it is important to acknowledge its existence in the life of the disciple.

The first and broadest definition of psyche is that of life itself which is lived on earth. It is the total experience of human life in the natural world understood by the self as "my life." This life consists of all its cares, concerns, events and actions. This can be seen in Jesus' exhortation of Matthew 6:25, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" In the general sense, the term is used as a reference to sum up a person's existence in and of itself on the earth as in Matthew 20:28 (Mark 10:45), "even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" and more directly in John's gospel where Christ is describing what makes a shepherd a good shepherd (10:11, 15, 17, 18). We also find Peter willing to lay his life down in John 13:37 and we are admonished by Christ a few verses later that laying down this life is the greatest act of love (John 15:13).

A metonymic understanding from the above definition would lead us to the second definition that a soul may refer to an individual or individuals (persons) who has this life in them and, as a result, is considered a living creature as noted in Acts 2:41 and 43, "…and there were added that day about three thousand souls…..And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles." Other passages where the term is used with this meaning are Mark 3:4 (Luke 6:9), Acts 3:23. 7:14 and Romans 2:9, 13:1.

We begin to narrow the definition with the next usage where it is considered the seat and center of life (both the earthly and eternal, supernatural life of man). This usage promotes a contrast between the soul and the body, especially when the body (soma) is referred to as the "flesh" (sarx) as found in Matthew 10:28. This central position in life is precious and is to be regarded with great care as in the paradox of Matthew 16:25. In this sense, it is able to receive salvation from God, "Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21), with similar thoughts from 1 Peter 1:9 and Hebrews 10:39. The sense of this usage also describes the soul as being subject to temptation (1 Peter 2:11; 2 Peter 2:14) to the extent that it would need to find rest (Matthew 11:29) and be encouraged by another's hope (3 John 2). The seat and center of life must be sanctified (1Peter 1:22) and entrusted to God (1 Peter 4:19) with Christ as its overseer (1 Peter 2:25). This central part of life is anchored by our hope in Christ (Hebrews 6:19) as the souls of the believers are under the care of the apostles and overseers (2 Corinthians 12:15; Hebrews 13:17).

The soul is not only considered the center of our lives, but also the breath of our life or life principle. Understood this way, we realize that when it leaves the body, death occurs, which is evident from Luke 12:20, "But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?'" After death, it leaves the earth to dwell in another place, i.e. heaven for the believer (Revelation 6:9; 20:4). 37

Our last usage in the New Testament is that which may have the heaviest Greek influences attached as it is understood as the inner life of man. It is closely connected to the usage mentioned above regarding the seat and center of life. However, it extends this usage by specific, contextual reference to the entire inner life of man in contrast to the outward aspects of life such as speech and other bodily functions. This is the inner place that Mary sings from in the magnificat of Luke 1:46. It is the seat of man's religious life and relationship to God where it may be hidden from others as it directs activity and orchestrates experiences in the inward places. This inside place may contain inner powers and emotions that bring reason, will and desire to bear on decisions of eternal significance. This can be seen from Christ's vulnerability and transparency in the Garden of Gethsemane, "…..and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death (Mark14:34, Matthew 26:37, 38)." However, the inside man may also be fortified and established by faith which comes by the Word of God as revealed by Paul in Lystra, "When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:21, 22)." 38

In summary, when we look first at the Old Testament word for soul, the nephesh, our definitions start with the idea of breath or exhalation which marks the living nature of all creatures. We have seen that another gloss for the word also involves the appetite and/ or hunger of that living creature known as man followed by a shift in perspective and understanding of man as the subject containing the appetite. In addition, in order to underscore the unified aspect of Hebrew anthropology, we see nephesh referring to a corpse which sustains the idea that body and soul were one in the corporeal individual. Completing our Old Testament understanding is the idea that the nephesh represents the total nature and existence of man.

The New Testament idea, psyche, begins with the generic "life on earth" usage and then moves to an understanding of the psyche as the individual (living creature). Next, the term moves inward to denote the seat or center of life and almost as if it continues to get more personal, we find it described as the breath of life or the idea of a life principle. The New Testament completes its usage with the psyche as the overall inner life of man.

With all of the above meanings to consider for the purpose of this paper, how do we find a functioning definition that either contains each individual aspect of usage (which may be a practical impossibility) or a definition that incorporates all aspects (without homogenizing them)? If we turn our attention to Jesus' own statements regarding the soul, we discover the true nature and meaning of the word.

What Jesus Reveals About the "Soul"

It is often the case, in our culture, that we accept the academic rigor of a word study, but we are not usually interested in hearing from Jesus. Today's church is a witness to that fact, as Christians will look to other sources before considering that Christ may have insight for them. We may not confess our bias against Him, but we remain practical atheists when we consult other external sources instead of seeking His kingdom first, but as commanded by Jesus, this is what we must do. 39

Jesus understood the soul in every context. He created it. 40 Therefore, when He referenced the psyche, he completed the disciples' understanding of it in light of all its Hebrew and Greek connotations. We have previously mentioned his use of psyche from describing the totality of human life in the natural world to the entire inner life of man. He used the common understanding of his audience, but added new insight as Creator. Jesus communicates that the soul is the true and fullest expression of life distinct from purely physical life (Matthew 6:25; 16:26). 41 He fashioned it and gave it to man for man to live before and in fellowship with Him. It is in this attitude that the soul receives its eternal character (Matthew 10:39; Luke 12:20-22). 42 It is difficult to get beyond thoughts that the body and its faculties are all that exist, but that is exactly what Jesus is addressing. In the gospels, His teaching with regard to psyche always has this larger context in mind (Matthew 11:29, 20:28, 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; John 10:11), even though he is still aware that this total life has an inner nature with outward expression (Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34; John 12:27). Therefore, we can see in His teaching an emphasis and acknowledgement of each usage but with the understanding that all parts make up one entity. This entity is the same life Adam received in Genesis 2:7. It is the entire living being that is commanded to "love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37). 43 Therefore, it would be wise not to force a single usage as the exclusive and exhaustive way to understand the soul. We should be informed by Christ's own teaching that the soul is ultimately our entire living self which consists of unique manifestations (inner life of man, life principle, center of life, etc.). In his epistle to the Colossians, Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, reveals how Jesus is capable of understanding and interpreting the nature of the soul in this way:

He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or authorities — all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 44


1. This is not an example of tri-perspectivalism (but it may be an example of merism). However, John Frame does place this command as part of a triad in the larger context of loving God, yourself and your neighbor. John Frame, The Doctrine of God, (Phillipsburg: P&R, 2002), 746.

2. John Hick, "Immortality and Resurrection," in Philosophy of Religion, an Anthology. ed by Louis Pojman (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1987), 327.

3. J. Pedersen, Israel (London: Oxford University Press, 1926), I, 170.

4. Nephesh is the Hebrew word for soul.

5. A. Dihle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. IX. Translated by G. Bromiley. Edited by G. Kittel & G. Friedrich. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 624 — 631.

6. John Hick, "Immortality and Resurrection," 329.

7. Bill Davis, History of Philosophy and Christian Thought: Lecture Notes: Spring 2003. 2

8. M.E. Osterhaven, "Soul," in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. Ed. W.A. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1984), 1037.

9. Plato, "Alcibiades I," in Philosophy of Religion, an Anthology. ed by Louis Pojman (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1987), 316.

10. Plato, "Dialogues of Plato" in Phaedo. ed. J.D. Kaplan (New York: Washington Square Press, 1950), 78-105.

11. This is the beginning of a formal psychology in contrast to a more general anthropology.

12. Plato, The Republic, trans. Richard W. Sterling and William C. Scott (New Haven: W.W. Norton, 1985), 133-135.

13. Webster defines it as "to pass at death from one body or being to another" which was the basic usage by Plato with the migration based on the merits of the soul's life and therefore a system of reward (a more virtuous life moved toward the eternal, divine rest) and punishment (returning to the prison of the body) ensued by the ultimate objective of union with the divine soul. Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Wm B. Eerdmans, 1987), 152, 314, 360.

14. Plato, The Republic, 304-311.

15. Erland Ehnmark, "The Problem of the Soul in Aristotle's De Anima" in The Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Jan., 1957), 1-20.

16. Bill Davis, History of Philosophy and Christian Thought: Lecture Notes: Spring 2003. 5

17. Aristotle, "The Philosophy of Aristotle" in On The Soul, ed. Renford Bambrough (New York: NAL Penguin Inc., 1963), 247.

18. Plato would say, "I am a soul; I have a body" whereas this is not so for Aristotle as neither exists separately from the other. Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, 320-321.

19. Aristotle, "The Philosophy of Aristotle" in On The Soul, 246-248.

20. Ferguson, Backgrounds, 321.

21. M. Hillar, "The Problem of the Soul in Aristotle's De Anima," Contributors to the Philosophy of Humanism, 1994, 51-82.

22. 2 Corinthians 10:5

23. G. Harder, "Soul" in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. III, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978), 676-686.

24. Dihle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 637.

25. G. Harder, "Soul" in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. III, 676-686.

26. It is best not think of this as simply spiritual CPR. God did not just pass oxygen from His being into Adam's lungs so he would come alive, rather it is an amazing way to communicate the spiritual reality of God making Adam a living being in all of his entirety.

27. R. Laird Harris, et al., Theological Workbook of the Old Testament, (Chicago: Moody, 1990), #1395a, 587-591.

28. Ibid

29. Dihle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 621-622.

30. G. Harder, "Soul" in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 676-686.

31. Dihle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 621.

32. R. Laird Harris, et al., Theological Workbook of the Old Testament, #1395a, 587-591.

33. G. Harder, "Soul" in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. III, 676-686.

34. Ibid

35. Ibid

36. A progression of the terms and development of thought regarding the soul will be looked at in a later chapter.

37. W. Bauer, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd Ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 893.

38. G. harder, "Soul" in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. III, 676-686.

39. In his book, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1997) Dallas Willard addresses our modern bias that compromises our belief that Jesus is an intellectual authority on all matters (pp. 91 — 95). Matthew 6:33.

40. "It is precisely Jesus' grasp of the structure in the human soul that also leads him to deal primarily with the sources of wrongdoing and not to focus on actions themselves." Ibid, 139.

41. As noted by the Greek, Zoë.

42. Dihle, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 621.

43. Where "might" is replaced by "mind" in the English translation

44. Colossians 1:15-20.

This article is provided as a ministry of Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill). If you have a question about this article, please email our Theological Editor.

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