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The Immortal Soul

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#1 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:50 PM

Argument One: That Man Lives By the Breath of God Within Him

Genesis 2:
7And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Note that - he became a living soul. Nowhere are we told 'He was given an immortal soul'. He became a living soul when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.

That 'breath of life' is exactly the same 'breath of life' which we find in the nostrils of the animals:

Genesis 7:
22All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.

Exactly the same. It is the 'neshamah chay'. It is the 'breath of life'. It is in humans. It is in animals. It is in every living thing. We all have the same spirit. It is not an immortal soul.

That is really the end of the immortal soul argument right here.

If this spirit is the 'immortal soul' then animals have immortal souls also.

#2 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:51 PM

Argument Two: That Man, Consisting of the Body and the Breath of Life, Is Called A Nephesh

In Hebrew the word 'nephesh' does not mean 'immortal soul', and nor does the phrase 'neshamah chay', which means 'breath of life'.
Men and women do not 'have' a nephesh, they are a nephesh. Anything which has the neshamah chay (the breath of life), is described in Scripture as a nephesh, a living breathing being.

These words have been erroneously translated 'soul', which is something the Jews themselves are very upset about.

A Jehovah's Witness site I found mentioned the interesting fact that 'in the New York Times (October 12, 1962), H. M. Orlinsky of Hebrew Union College (the editor-in-chief of a new translation of the Torah published byThe Jewish Publication Society of America)', said this concerning the word 'nephesh':

'Other translators have interpreted it to mean 'soul,' which is completely inaccurate. The Bible does not say we have a soul. 'Nefesh' is the person himself, his need for food, the very blood in his veins, his being.'

This translation did not use the word 'soul' at all. You might ask yourself if those who have inconsistently translated these words 'soul' have been endowed from on high to change the sense and meaning of the word.

From the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia:

2. New Testament Distinctions:

(1) In the New Testament psuche appears under more or less similar conditions as in the Old Testament. The contrast here is as carefully maintained as there. It is used where pneuma would be out of place; and yet it seems at times to be employed where pneuma might have been substituted.

Thus in John 19:30 we read: "Jesus gave up his pneuma" to the Father, and, in the same Gospel (John 10:15), Jesus gave up His "psuche for the sheep," and in Matthew 20:28 He gave His psuche (not His pneuma) as a ransom--a difference which is characteristic. For the pneuma stands in quite a different relation to God from the psuche. The "spirit" (pneuma) is the outbreathing of God into the creature, the life-principle derived from God. The "sour" (psuche) is man's individual possession, that which distinguishes one man from another and from inanimate nature. The pneuma of Christ was surrendered to the Father in death; His psuche was surrendered, His individual life was given "a ransom for many." His life "was given for the sheep"

(2) This explains those expressions in the New Testament which bear on the salvation of the soul and its preservation in the regions of the dead. "Thou wilt not leave my soul unto Hades" (the world of shades) (Acts 2:27); "Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil" (Romans 2:9); "We are .... of them that have faith unto the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:39); "Receive ..... the implanted word, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:21).

The same or similar expressions may be met with in the Old Testament in reference to the soul. Thus in Psalms 49:8,the King James Version "The redemption of their soul is precious" and again:

"God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol" (Psalms 49:15). Perhaps this may explain--at least this is Wendt's explanation--why even a corpse is called nephesh or soul in the Old Testament, because, in the region of the dead, the individuality is retained and, in a measure, separated from God (compare Haggai 2:13; Leviticus 21:11).

3. Oehler on Soul and Spirit:

The distinction between psuche and pneuma, or nephesh and ruach, to which reference has been made, may best be described in the words of Oehler (Old Testament Theology, I, 217):

"Man is not spirit, but has it: he is soul. .... In the soul, which sprang from the spirit, and exists continually through it, lies the individuality--in the case of man, his personality, his self, his ego." He draws attention to the words of Elihu in Job (33:4): `God's spirit made me,' the soul called into being; `and the breath of the Almighty animates me,' the soul kept in energy and strength, in continued existence, by the Almighty, into whose hands the inbreathed spirit is surrendered, when the soul departs or is taken from us (1 Kings 19:4).

Hence, according to Oehler the phrases naphshi ("my soul"), naphshekha ("thy soul") may be rendered in Latin egomet, tu ipse; but not ruchi ("my spirit"), ruchakha ("thy spirit")--soul standing for the whole person, as in Genesis 12:5; 17:14; Ezekiel 18:4, etc.'

#3 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:51 PM

Argument Three: That At Death, This Animating Principle Returns to God, and Man Is Insensate

The breath of life (which has no personality), returns to God who gave it, and the body (together with the mind and personality), perishes in the grave:

Ecclesiastes 12:
7Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.

New American Bible:
7And the dust returns to the earth as it once was, and the life breath returns to God who gave it.

Revised Standard Version:
7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the breath returns to God who gave it.

Contemporary English Version:
7So our bodies return to the earth, and the life-giving breath returns to God.

Today's English Version:
7Our bodies will return to the dust of the earth, and the breath of life will go back to God, who gave it to us.

Psalm 146:
3Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. 
4His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

The Living Bible:
4for every man must die. His breathing stops, life ends, and in a moment all he planned for himself is ended.

New American Bible:
4 When they breathe their last, they return to the earth; that day all their planning comes to nothing.

New Living Translation:
4When their breathing stops, they return to the earth, and in a moment all their plans come to an end.

New Revised Standard Version:
4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

Revised Standard Version:
4 When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish.

#4 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:51 PM

The Bible commonly uses analogies to communicate ideas. In the case of resurrection, death is considered to be analogous to sleep. The reason for this is that, for those anticipating resurrection, death is only a temporary state, and not a permanent one. The significance of this point cannot be overlooked.

Take note of the passages quoted below. There is no possible way that the context will permit us to interpret the word 'sleep' here, in the usual fashion. We are left with the conclusion that each reference is to death - but a death that will not last forever. Bear in mind however, that this 'sleep', or temporary death, is offered only to those who have come to an understanding of Godís word - and all those who remain ignorant, whether by choice or misadventure, will remain dead forever.

- Deuteronomy 31:16; Thou shalt sleep with thy fathers

- Job 7:21; For now I shall sleep in the dust

- Psalm 13:3; The sleep of death

- Daniel 12:2; And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awaken, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt

- I Corinthians 15:51; Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed

What do you think this means?

Job 34:
14If God set his heart upon man, if He gather unto himself His spirit and His breath
15All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.

#5 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:52 PM

Argument Four: That the Only Hope of Man After Death Is the Resurrection From the Grave

People who believe in the immortal soul don't see the connection between the work of the Messiah, the promise of resurrection This is because they don't believe that resurrection is necessary for life to continue.

This is why they do not see the promise of the Messiah in Genesis 3:15 as a necessary provision to save Adam and Eve from death, and this is why they do not see that when Christ speaks of God being 'the God of the living', he is speaking of the resurrection, not the immortal soul.

Incidentally, Christ was explicitly speaking of the resurrection in that passage.

We know this, because he says 'As touching the resurrection of the dead'. So they can't even explain Genesis 3:15 in the context of the immortal soul. This is not a promising start.

#6 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:52 PM

The fact of the matter is that those who die perish utterly. No part of them continues to 'live' afterwards:

Psalm 6:
5For in death there is no remembrance of Thee: in the grave who shall give Thee thanks?

Psalm 115:
17The dead praise not the LORD, neither any that go down into silence.

Psalm 146:
3Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. 
4His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Ecclesiastes 9:
5For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
6Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.

10Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

Nowhere are we told that death constitutes the continuation of life in any form.

The only hope of restoration from the grave, life after death, is the resurrection:

Job 19:
26And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God
27Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Psalm 49:
15But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for He shall receive me. Selah.

Isaiah 38:
18For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.

Daniel 12:
2And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Acts 4:
1And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 
2Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Those who die in faith die in the hope of a reward still to come:

Luke 14:
13But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
14And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just

John 5:
28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation..

John 11:
23Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Hebrews 11:
13These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

39And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Philippians 3:
9And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

#7 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:52 PM

We cannot find anywhere in Scripture which says that the nephesh (usually translated 'soul'), is immortal.

Nephesh is variously translated soul, beast, creature, body,dead, fish, thing, man, person, any, one he, her, himself, herself, me, myself, self, themselves, they, yourselves, own soul, breath, ghost, life, soul, appetite, mind heart, will, desire, pleasure lust, mortality, deadly, refresh, heartily, greedy, contented. Why?

Other uses of nephesh:

- 22 times of animals alone (Genesis 1:21-28)

- 7 times of men and animals together (Numbers 31:28)

- 53 times of individuals, persons (Genesis 2:7)

- 96 times of persons doing things (Leviticus 5:1,2 and 4)

- 22 times of man: appetites and animal desires (Proverbs 6:30; Genesis 34:3)

- 231 times of man: mental faculties, emotions (Genesis 34:3; Numbers 21:4)

- 22 times of soul cut off by God (Psalm 78:50)

- 32 times souls killed by man (Joshua 11:11)

- 242 times souls subject to death (Ezekiel 18:4; Psalm 22:29)

- 13 times souls actually dead (Isaiah 53:12)

- 13 times souls going to grave (Job 33:22)

How is this possibly consistent with the understanding of the meaning 'nephesh' as 'immortal soul' or 'immortal spirit being'?

What are we to do with these verses? The soul dies, it is not immortal. Where is the place where the soul is said to be immortal?

Parkhurst's Lexicon:

'As a noun nephesh hath been supposed to signify the spiritual part of man, or what we commonly call his soul. I must for myself confess that I can find no passages where it hath undoubtedly this meaning

Gen. 35:18, 1 Kings 17:21-22 and Psalms 16:10 seem fairest for this signification. But may not nephesh in the three former passages be most properly rendered 'breath,' and in the last, 'a breathing or animal frame'?'

Parkhurst's Greek Lexicon, London, 1809

Parkhurst himself, nonetheless, believed in the doctrine of the immortal soul.

#8 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:52 PM

How about this:

['In the New Testament, to 'save one's soul' (Mk 8:35) does not mean to save some 'spiritual' part of man, as opposed to his 'body' (in the Platonic sense) but the whole person with emphasis on the fact that the person is living, desiring, loving and willing, etc., in addition to being concrete and physical.'

The New American Bible's 'Glossary of Biblical Theology Terms', pages 27-8, 1970

Strong's Concordance:

1) soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
1a) that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
1b) living being
1c) living being (with life in the blood)
1d) the man himself, self, person or individual
1e) seat of the appetites
1f) seat of emotions and passions
1g) activity of mind
1g1) dubious
1h) activity of the will
1h1) dubious
1i) activity of the character
1i1) dubious

You will note the complete absence of anything remotely immortal here.

Edited by Fortigurn, 04 October 2005 - 01:36 AM.

#9 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:52 PM

Back to The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia:

sol (nephesh; psuche; Latin anima):

1. Shades of Meaning in the Old Testament:

(1) Soul, like spirit, has various shades of meaning in the Old Testament, which may be summarized as follows:

"Soul," "living being," "life," "self," "person," "desire," "appetite," "emotion" and "passion" (BDB under the word). In the first instance it meant that which breathes, and as such is distinguished from basar, "flesh" (Isaiah 10:18 ; Deuteronomy 12:23from she'er, "the inner flesh," next the bones (Proverbs 11:17,"his own flesh"); from beTen, "belly" (Psalms 31:10,"My soul and my belly are consumed with grief"), etc.

(2) As the life-breath, it departs at death (Genesis 35:18; Jeremiah 15:2). Hence, the desire among Old Testament saints to be delivered from Sheol (Psalms 16:10, "Thou wilt not leave my soul to Sheol") and from shachath, "the pit" (Job 33:18), "He keepeth back his soul from the pit"; Isaiah 38:17 "Thou hast .... delivered it (my soul) from the pit of corruption").

(3) By an easy transition the word comes to stand for the individual, personal life, the person, with two distinct shades of meaning which might best be indicated by the Latin anima and animus.

As anima, "soul," the life inherent in the body, the animating principle in the blood is denoted (compare Deuteronomy 12:23,24 , `Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the soul; and thou shalt not eat the soul with the flesh'). As animus, "mind," the center of our mental activities and passivities is indicated.

Thus we read of `a hungry soul' (Psalms 107:9 ), `a weary soul' (Jeremiah 31:25), `a loathing soul' (Leviticus 26:11), `a thirsty soul' (Psalms 42:2), `a grieved soul' (Job 30:25 )`a loving soul' (Song of Solomon 1:7 ), and many kindred expressions.

Cremer has characterized this use of the word in a sentence: "Nephesh (soul) in man is the subject of personal life, whereof pneuma or ruach (spirit) is the principle" (Lexicon, under the word, 795).

(4) This individuality of man, however, may be denoted by pneuma as well, but with a distinction. Nephesh or "soul" can only denote the individual life with a material organization or body.

Pneuma or "spirit" is not so restricted. Scripture speaks of "spirits of just men made perfect" (Hebrews 12:23), where there can be no thought of a material or physical or corporeal organization.

They are "spiritual beings freed from the assaults and defilements of the flesh" (Delitzsch, in the place cited.). For an exceptional use of psuche in the same sense see Revelation 6:9; 20:4, and (irrespective of the meaning of Psalms 16:10) Acts 2:27.

#10 Fortigurn



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Posted 06 September 2003 - 05:53 PM

I want to know how the idea of the immortal soul actually agrees with the entire message of Scripture.

It's no good grabbing a verse from here and there, and trying to put a doctrine together whilst ignoring the consistent message of the Bible.
That's not a hermeneutic.

I want to know where these souls came from, if they have always been immortal, if they will always remain immortal (contradiction in terms coming up!), when they enter the body, when they leave the body... any number of issues need addressing.

For a start, I require an explanation of how the theory of the 'immortal soul' and 'soul migration' (essentially reincarnation, let's be honest), are in agreement with Genesis 1-3, the work of Messiah, and the hope of the resurrection. In fact, I require the explanation of this doctrine within this witness and context.

Other issues:

- Where are we told that people have immortal souls?

- Where are we told that the soul is immortal?

- Where are we told that souls, on death, are judged before being deposited in heaven or hell?

- Why are we told that all souls go to the grave?

- In the phrase 'Dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return', where is the future of the soul mentioned?

- Do animals have immortal souls?

- Where is resurrection spoken of as the return of an immortal soul to a body?

- Do the immortal souls of all people return to God on death?

- Why would all flesh perish if God were to withdraw His spirit?

- What does the phrase 'in whom we live and move and have our being' mean?

- What is the breath of life?

- What happens when someone dies?

- What happens when someone is resurrected?

- Are men inherently immortal?

That's a good start.

#11 mji2



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Posted 09 August 2004 - 05:04 PM

Some of the above, and some other stuff, moulded into a public lecture titled "Man does not have an immortal soul - the Bible evidence" resulted in the attached handout/slides:

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