RE: [asa] Event or process

From: Janice Matchett <>
Date: Thu May 10 2007 - 10:48:06 EDT

At 08:47 AM 5/10/2007, Jon Tandy wrote:

>This conversation has been about when mankind received a "soul", but
>I think maybe there isn't a clear (or consistent) definition of what
>people mean by the soul. .."

@ This may help:

".....Adventist scholar Samuel Bacchiochi, in an essay called The
Human Soul, at first says, "Those who believe their nature is
wholistic, consisting of an indivisible whole where body, soul, and
spirit are only characteristics of the same person, generally
envision a destiny where their total mortal person will be
resurrected either to eternal life or eternal death." But in the next
paragraph he says:

On the other hand, those who believe their nature is dualistic, that
is, consisting of a material, mortal body and a spiritual, immortal
soul, generally envision a destiny where their immortal souls will
survive the death of their body and will spend eternity either in the
bliss of paradise or in the torment of hell.

What happened here? Bacchiochi turned the three (spirit, soul, body)
into two (body, soul) and left the spirit in the dust, so to speak,
or mashed it adverbially into the soul. Later he seems to regard
"soul" and "spirit" as synonyms: "The body and the soul, the flesh
and the spirit, are characteristics of the same person and not
detachable components that come apart at death." It is perhaps true
that "soul" and "spirit" are used interchangeably today, and may have
been used thusly in NT Greek (cf. Luke 1:46-7 [?!?]), but that
clearly was not the case in the OT. Note even to begin the variation
in the Hebrew words:

SPIRIT: 7307. ruwach, roo'-akh; from H7306; wind; by resemblance
breath, i.e. a sensible (or even violent) exhalation; fig. life,
anger, unsubstantiality; by extens. a region of the sky; by
resemblance spirit, but only of a rational being (includ. its
expression and functions):--air, anger, blast, breath, X cool,
courage, mind, X quarter, X side, spirit ([-ual]), tempest, X vain,
([whirl-]) wind (-y).

SOUL: 5315. nephesh, neh'-fesh; from H5314; prop. a breathing
creature, i.e. animal or (abstr.) vitality; used very widely in a
lit., accommodated or fig. sense (bodily or mental):--any, appetite,
beast, body, breath, creature, X dead (-ly), desire, X [dis-]
contented, X fish, ghost, + greedy, he, heart (-y), (hath, X jeopardy
of) life (X in jeopardy), lust, man, me, mind, mortality, one, own,
person, pleasure, (her-, him-, my-, thy-) self, them (your) -selves,
+ slay, soul, + tablet, they, thing, (X she) will, X would have it.

In general and by appearances, we would suggest the thesis that the
"soul" as defined here is the combination of the body and spirit,
which creates the unified whole of a person (or an animal -- cf. Gen.
1:21). Bacchiochi speaks of combating the idea that the "soul" is an
immortal substance, but if that is his argument, he seems to be
fighting the wrong battle from the get-go.

Bacchiochi offers a thorough and informative analysis of the various
uses of "soul" (nephesh) in the OT, and every one of these supports
the idea of the nephesh as the combined body and spirit. If these two
elements were a composite that made a man a man, it is quite sensible
that both are affected in times of trouble, experience emotion, and
sin, and that the nephesh dies when the body is killed, as Bacchiochi
clearly shows. Indeed, he quotes one commentator as saying, "The
Hebrew did not divide and assign human activities. Any act was the
whole nephesh in action, hence, the whole person." This matches as
well with the NT triple-combo of psyche (soul), soma (body), and
pneuma (spirit) as the words are used by the writers of the NT
(though the Greeks seem to have overlapped the words in usage
somewhat, and Strong's, in defining the words, uses them to define
each other! -- perhaps reflecting our own modern confusion of the terms).

The question we wish to pose, then, is not, according to the Bible,
"Does the soul survive death?" but, "Does the spirit survive death?"
Bacchiochi correctly notes that the NT distinguishes soul and spirit
(1 Thess. 5:23, Heb, 4:12) and also rightly decries those who regard
"spirit" and "soul" as complete synonyms. But he never gets around
(where we have read) to a full discussion of what exactly man's
"spirit" is and what happens to it after death. The word is often
used figuratively of one's emotional attitude (i.e., a "revived
spirit") but it is clearly also used to refer to sentient entities
(both good and evil) and -- as classically formulated in James 2:26
("For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works
is dead also.") is clearly a separably identifiable entity within a
human, whatever its condition after a body dies. 2 Cor. 5, Paul's
excursus on the resurrection body compared to the old one, uses the
metaphor of a tent, which suggests, obviously, an "inhabitant"!
(Though where exactly the "inhabitant" rests and in what state is not
stated.) Hebrews 4:12 confirms this, speaking of the "division of
soul and spirit" comparably to bones and marrow -- the latter being a
component of the former.

It should be noted first of all that "spirit" being described in
terms of "breath" should not by any means be taken to assume that the
two are the same thing. As various organs are connected with certain
things by the Hebrews (see more
<>here so it is that we would
expect the spirit to be linked to a certain part of us -- the
equation no more makes the two the same thing than we may assume that
kidneys do not exist because they are called "reins".

One of Bacchiochi's few statements about the spirit concerns Eccl.
12:7, "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the
spirit shall return unto God who gave it." He quotes the
Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible as saying that the spirit "is
not, properly speaking, an anthropological reality, but a gift of God
which returns to him at the time of death." One is hard pressed to
see how this reasoning plays out. There is nothing here that shows
that the spirit is not an "anthropological reality" at all; if angels
and evil spirits and the Spirit of God are anthropological realities,
whence is the spirit of a man not so? (Eccl. 12:7, of course, does
not say what happens to the spirit when it returns to God, or whether
it has any consciousness; the word "return" has as many broad
meanings as our modern word.)

Another verse pressed often into service in this regard is Gen. 3:19,
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto
the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and
unto dust shalt thou return." This is taken to say that man is dust
with no remainder at all, giving the idea that there is nothing else
to survive death. (Eccl. 3:19-20 is also used similarly, but for
reasons we will note below, using Ecclesiastes to support this
doctrine is not a valid option.) Taking this as a statement of
complete identity, however, is rather too literalistic. Gen. 3:16-19
forms a metrical pattern and cannot be expected to be providing a
full anthropological outline. If all man is is dust, what has
happened to the breath of God that was put in him? Eccl. 12:7
answers, as does Elihu in Job 34:14-15, for what his answer may be
worth: "If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his
spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall
turn again unto dust." The latter seems to be an OT version of James 2:26.

We conclude therefore, for now, that "soul sleep" advocates may need
to fine-tune their case and take the ruwach into consideration. They
(as well as respondents) seem to have erred in taking "soul" and
"spirit" as synonyms. (In fact, one of Bacchiochi's sources, Wolff's
Anthropology of the OT [34], notes what I have about "spirit" above,
but Bacchiochi oddly says nothing about this part of Wolff's book in
the pieces we have read.)

Our primary source for the next part of this work is Philip
Johnston's Shades of Sheol: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament,
which collects and collates data on belief in death and the afterlife
as expressed in the OT. We may begin by summarizing some of
Johnston's relevant conclusions that will be taken into consideration
as proceed:

[huge snip]

Such is the work of the OT; now what of the NT? ........... [huge snip]

1 Peter 3:19-20 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits
in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the
longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a
preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

[snip] "...As we have shown in Chapter 5 of The Mormon Defenders, and
<>here, the "spirits"
referred to are not human spirits.

Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and
seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

I have purposely saved this cite for near last. If any passage gives
us a clear view of the afterlife one way or the other, it is this
one; yet it still lacks specifics enough to develop a full-fledged
picture of the afterlife. The rich man is conscious in hades; Abraham
is conscious in paradise, and Lazarus presumably is as well (or can
be) if he is being asked to run an errand. This would seem clear
evidence of an afterlife in which consciousness is at least possible
(of course they could just all have been awake for a short time, who
knows!) but ... [snip]

Now for the last verse I want to look at, and it is an "end around"
that I have seen no "soul sleep" advocate deal with -- because it
doesn't mention death, they would probably never think to mention it.
Here it is:

2 Cor. 12:2-4 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago,
(whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I
cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I
cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise,
and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

What's the issue? It's simple: This proves that Paul believed that a
man could have a conscious life apart from a body. He didn't die
(most commentators think he is referring to himself obliquely here,
and his conversion experience on the road to Damascus, as a means of
not assuming too much honor) but he allows that he may have been "out
of the body" and yet was still conscious and able to hear things (in
spite of having no "ears").

None of this proves this state was static or permanent, but it is
clear that he allows for the separation of two elements with
consciousness remaining even in the separation.

The conclusion for now: It is clear that consciousness is possible in
the intermediate state before resurrection; whether it is a steady or
a changing state is a matter of speculation. Not that we need to be
concerned. I suspect the Bible spends little time on the afterlife
.... precisely in order to keep our minds where they should be -- on
the here and now, serving the Lord Jesus.
Related subject: <>Why are
the doctrines of heaven and hell not found in the OT?

  Bedtime for Spirits -- James Patrick

~ Janice

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Received on Thu May 10 10:48:34 2007

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