It’s often asserted that at a general level, humans consist of spirit, soul, and body. Interestingly, there is only one passage in the entire Biblical canon that lists the three side by side (1 Thess. 5:23). Even then, that passage has nothing to do with teaching human anthropology. Rather, the Scriptural anthropology teaches humans on the most general level consist of spirit and flesh. These two parts are directly compared, contrasted, and juxtaposed on in dozens of passages – as opposed to just one reference pulled out of context. (Yes, I know that I am going against the orthodoxy here – and I am quite comfortable doing it. Run your own keyword search on the Bible and see what you come up with).
It’s also often asserted that soul is “mind + will + emotions”. Interestingly, this equation originates from Hellenistic theories of the soul, directly traceable to pre-platonic / Pythagorean and early platonic theories of the soul. See Plato’s “Phaedo” (a.k.a. “On the Soul”) and “The Republic” to see where system of thought originated from. Plato’s theory of the soul presented in “The Republic” is:
“Soul = reason (mind) + appetites (emotions) + spirit (will)”.
(continued from part 1)
Now, here’s the passage that turned the light on for me:
1 Corinthians 15 (KJV)
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul (ψυχή – “psuche”); the last Adam was made a quickening (ζωοποιοῦν – “zōopoioun” lit. “life-making”) spirit (πνεῦμα – “pneuma”).
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual (πνευματικὸν – “pneumatikon”) , but that which is natural (ψυχικόν – “psuchikon” – soulish); and afterward that which is spiritual (πνευματικὸν – “pneumatikon”).
First Adam became a soul (from a mere pile of dust), the second Adam – Christ – became a spirit after being born from the dead (Jesus was firstborn from the dead, but not first raised from the dead, others (e.g., Lazarus) preceded him in the latter). That shift is a huge key to the puzzle!
The discussion below is somewhat technical, more so that my usual posts. It goes to the original languages of the Scriptures, but I am giving you all the definitions and explaining all the nuances right on the spot. If you care to read through it, I think you will discover something new and quite exciting.
Here’s a very curious phenomenon that I recently picked up on in the scriptures.
Genesis 2:7 (KJV)
7 And the Lord God formed man (אָדָם – adam) of the dust (עָפָר – aphar) of the ground (אֲדָמָה – adamah), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (נָ֫פֶשׁ – nephesh).
The word “soul” (נָ֫פֶשׁ – “nephesh”) is rendered in NKJV and a lot of other modern translations as “being”. For the purposes of this discussion, I will stick with the word “soul” as it uniquely maps into both Hebrew and Greek equivalents. The downside is that the word “soul” does have a lot of baggage passed down through the centuries.
Strong (H5315) defines the word נָ֫פֶשׁ – “nephesh” as: “a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion”. Based on that, let’s constrain the meaning of the word to mean 2 things: 1) “living being that has an identity”, and 2) life (not just a fact of biological existence) lived by such living being. That definition should semantically reflect a more or less complete range of meaning, without dragging in most of the religious baggage into it.