More About The Soul

July 13,2020

Bill Lauritzen, in  “Can a Machine Have a Soul,”[1] argues against the existence of the soul.It is my contention that  he has a simplistic and wrong notion of soul. He tells us what he means by the term: ”I am not talking about souls in a metaphorical sense, as the 'essence' of a person, I am talking about 'the spiritual or immaterial part of a human being or animal, regarded as immortal .'"
 It is my contention that he has it backwards. The notion he does not deal with as the essence of a human is the right notion and the idea of an immortal aspect is not the preponderance of uses in the Bible.

There is, however, a  Caveat. The  Hebrew term used in OT for soul is  nephesh or Nefesh it has a multiplicity of meanings. One can find passages where it is interchangeable with spirit and where it is an mortal aspect  separate from the body. But as I say that's not the preponderance of meanings.


I have changed my view on this. I had gone in for the modernist view that soul is only metaphorical. I think it's proven the Bible teaches and it is clear from other sources that the ancient Hebrews believed in an immortal soul separate from the body. Richard C. Steiner, has written a whole book about it.[2]


Modern scholarshp has abolished this view. For example see James Tabor:
, , access date: December 14, 2013. "The ancient Hebrews had no idea of an immortal soul living a full and vital life beyond death, nor of any resurrection or return from death. Human beings, like the beasts of the field, are made of "dust of the earth," and at death they return to that dust (Gen. 2:7; 3:19). The Hebrew word nephesh, traditionally translated "living soul" but more properly understood as "living creature," is the same word used for all breathing creatures and refers to nothing immortal."The textual evidence indicates a multiplicity of perspectives on these issues including probable changes during the centuries in which the biblical corpus developed." ;[3]
According to Steiner that is not true. I think he proves that the ancient Hebrews had a notion  of soul as an immaterial, immortal part of us, desperate from he body, Yet, the real issue is so what if ancients had that idea is that really the important thing about the soul according to the Bible?  In seeking an answer looks look at several ways the word is translated:
soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion
  1. that which breathes, the breathing substance or being, soul, the inner being of man
  1. living being
  1. living being (with life in the blood)
  1. the man himself, self, person or individual
  1. seat of the appetites
  1. seat of emotions and passions
  1. activity of mind
  1. dubious
  1. activity of the will
  1. dubious
  1. activity of the character
  1. dubious[4]
We can see most of these uses in he Bible.There is a metaphorical meaning for soul as the  overall life of the person in relation to God.Genesis 2:7, KJV: "And 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." .. You don't have a soul you are a soul. In that sense the term is used for the overall life of the individual in relation to God. Jeff Bennner tells us:
I had always assumed that only humans had a soul, but it was during a study of the word "soul" many years ago that I discovered that translations often influence how we interpret Biblical concepts. In Genesis 2:7 we find that man is a "living soul" and in Genesis 1:21 we find that animals are "living creatures". When I first started using a concordance to look up the original Hebrew words I was amazed to find out that these two English phrases were the translations of the same Hebrew phrase - nephesh hhayah. Why would the translators translate nephesh hhayahas "living soul" in one place and "living creatures" in another? It was this discovery that prompted me to learn the Hebrew language....
The soul is the whole of the person, the unity of the body, organs and breath. It is not some immaterial spiritual entity, it is you, all of you, your whole being or self.[5]

 Given that Steiner is right Benner is wrong in that last line ("It is not some immaterial spiritual entity,") but that still leaves room for both views to have their aspects of truth. The ancient Hebrews did see soul as   "some immaterial spiritual entity, and he word also functions as the whole person or the overall life in relation to God. Speaking of the life in relation to God this is why we speak of lost souls or saving your soul.


Let's say Lauritzen is right and the soul as immaterial aspect of man is primitive and based upon ignorance of nature, there is still this other use that is not touched by his criticism. Here is some Biblical support for that view.


2Pete 2:14 "They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed.  Accursed children!" Souls fallinging to sin are usteady thawould imploy the relation toGod is part of the natureo the soul. James 1:2121 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. Saved soul or lost soul implies soul is something in relation to God. Lev. 17:11 "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.












[1] Bill Lauritzen, Abstract, “Can a Machine Have a Soul,” Journal of Personal Cyberconscienceness. Vol. 8, Iss 1 (2013) 30-39, 30-31.


[2]  Richard C. Steiner,  Disembodied Souls: The Nefesh in Israel and Kindred Spirits in the Ancient Near East, with an Appendix on the Katumuwa Inscription. Atlanta: SBL Press. 2015, 23 and 124,

https://www.sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/pubs/9781628370775_OA.pdf

SBL press is Society of Biblical Literature. Meaning he's a real scholar.

[3]  James Tabor, "What the Bible says about Death, Afterlife, and the Future." the Jewish Roman World of Jesus, originally published 1989,


https://pages.uncc.edu/james-tabor/ancient-judaism/death-afterlife-future/


[4]

Comments

Anonymous said…
Joe: According to Steiner that is not true. I think he proves that the ancient Hebrews had a notion of soul as an immaterial, immortal part of us, desperate from he body,

The theology of the Hebrews evolved during the writing of the Bible. I think from approximately the time of the Babylonian exile there was likely a belief in the soul, though this was in the form of a shade living a half-life in the underworld, waiting for the resurrection (though there were a lot of different sects, so it is not clear cut, of course).

Before that, the view was that the nephesh was your breath - there was no concept of a spirit or soul. God blew his breath into Adam, as you quote. That was not imbuing him with a soul, that was imbuing him with life. Other creatures breath (vertebrates anyway), so they too have nephesh, i.e., they have breath. To conclude animals have souls is just plain wrong (and I appreciate you were quoting someone else doing that)!

The soul in this sense does not survive death; indeed they understood death to be the point when you breath your last - when Jesus gave up his breath in John 19:30, that was when he died.

Note that Job 34:14 mentions both breath and spirit in NASB, though both words seem to actually be breath in Hebrew!


You also cite 2 Peter 2:14. This usage is more akin to the ego, the sense of self, than what we understand "soul" to mean in modern English.


Do you think the soul - however you define it - continues to exist after death? I think this is the crux of the issue. Lauritzen has no problem with the existence of something that stops existing when the body dies, label it how you want.

Pix
Pix: "Before that, the view was that the nephesh was your breath - there was no concept of a spirit or soul. God blew his breath into Adam, as you quote. That was not imbuing him with a soul, that was imbuing him with life. Other creatures breath (vertebrates anyway), so they too have nephesh, i.e., they have breath. To conclude animals have souls is just plain wrong (and I appreciate you were quoting someone else doing that)!"

Nephesh never mean breath. That was the association with <>penuma.<> in Greek because both deal with the soul. Hebrew for wid or breath was Rosh.

quote: -The word nefesh originally meant “neck” or “throat,” and later came to imply the “vital spirit,” or anima in the Latin sense. The word ruach had at all times meant “wind” but later came to refer to the whole range of a person's emotional, intellectual, and volitional…

Nefesh | Judaism | Britannica
Pix:
"The theology of the Hebrews evolved during the writing of the Bible. I think from approximately the time of the Babylonian exile there was likely a belief in the soul, though this was in the form of a shade living a half-life in the underworld, waiting for the resurrection (though there were a lot of different sects, so it is not clear cut, of course)."

I agree that a multiplicity of meanings are found under the term nephesh.. and that the concept of the soul evolved. Yet Steiner shows they did have a notion of a inner soul in your body serape from he body..

Steiner: --A belief in the existence of disembodied נפשות is reflected in
many biblical passages as well. The most important of these is Ezek
13:17–21, a prophecy addressed to women posing as prophetesses.
When properly understood, this passage provides compelling evidence; however, it has been only partially understood until now
because of the obscure technical terms that it contains. It describes
the manufacture of pillows, using terms whose precise meaning is
known from rabbinic references to pillows. The women and their
apprentices were sewing pillow casings (כסתות (and cutting up
clothing—stolen, perhaps, from their intended victims—into the
cloth patches (מספחות (that served as pillow filling in ancient Israel.
They were using the pillow filling—presumably after reciting a
spell over it—to attract heedless dream-souls (נפשים (rushing back
to the pillows of their owners in the morning, after a “night [p124]
The soul in this sense does not survive death; indeed they understood death to be the point when you breath your last - when Jesus gave up his breath in John 19:30, that was when he died.

the soul is what surives death, why would Jesus say losing your soul makes winning the world meaningless?

Note that Job 34:14 mentions both breath and spirit in NASB, though both words seem to actually be breath in Hebrew!
nepesh did not mean breath


You also cite 2 Peter 2:14. This usage is more akin to the ego, the sense of self, than what we understand "soul" to mean in modern English.

Puyche did not have the modern connotation of psychology. that's how the Hews translated nephesh into Greek. he point is inner being.


Do you think the soul - however you define it - continues to exist after death? I think this is the crux of the issue. Lauritzen has no problem with the existence of something that stops existing when the body dies, label it how you want.

I think something survives death and has an eternal life with God. I think o soul primarily as a metaphor for relationship with God.Thus it represents the surviving aspect because is a result of relationship with God. ie the saved soul.
Anonymous said…
Joe: Nephesh never mean breath. That was the association with <>penuma.<> in Greek because both deal with the soul. Hebrew for wid or breath was Rosh.

Yes, my bad.

Though I stand by my point that concluding animals have souls is flawed reasoning.

Joe: I agree that a multiplicity of meanings are found under the term nephesh.. and that the concept of the soul evolved. Yet Steiner shows they did have a notion of a inner soul in your body serape from he body..

I am saying that at one time (pre-exile) they did not have a concept of soul as it is now commonly understood.

Joe: the soul is what surives death, why would Jesus say losing your soul makes winning the world meaningless?

Sure, but that was not the understanding of pre-exilic Hebrews.

Joe: Puyche did not have the modern connotation of psychology. that's how the Hews translated nephesh into Greek. he point is inner being.

I was just going on the context. The verse has the same meaning if you were to substitute the word "soul" with "person" or "individual". There is no reason to suppose anything spiritual or supernatural.

Joe: I think something survives death and has an eternal life with God. I think o soul primarily as a metaphor for relationship with God.Thus it represents the surviving aspect because is a result of relationship with God. ie the saved soul.

Is that like how the word "table" is a metaphor for the wooden thing you eat you dinner off? I think we all understand how a word represents the thing itself.

Or do you mean something else? If a metaphor lives on after you die, how does that benefit you? You are just as dead.

Pix
Anonymous said…
Steiner: A belief in the existence of disembodied נפשות is reflected in many biblical passages as well. The most important of these is Ezek 13:17–21, a prophecy addressed to women posing as prophetesses. When properly understood, this passage provides compelling evidence; however, it has been only partially understood until now because of the obscure technical terms that it contains. It describes the manufacture of pillows, using terms whose precise meaning is known from rabbinic references to pillows. The women and their apprentices were sewing pillow casings (כסתות (and cutting up clothing—stolen, perhaps, from their intended victims—into the cloth patches (מספחות (that served as pillow filling in ancient Israel. They were using the pillow filling—presumably after reciting a spell over it—to attract heedless dream-souls (נפשים (rushing back to the pillows of their owners in the morning, after a “night [p124]

A little off-topic, I know, but I am curious about Steiner's reasoning here.

The traditional view can be found here, which is that this is about pillows for armholes:
https://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/bruce/pillows_for_armholes.htm

Contrast with this paper (I only have access to the abstract):

The textual history of the book of Ezekiel turns them into female prophets at odds with Ezekiel; reception history turned these women into witches. In their own lifetimes they were probably well-respected religious specialists.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/23488237?seq=1

Bible Hub suggests they were making magical bands or amulets, rather than pillows, which makes far more sense.
https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3704.htm

Verse 18 indicates these items were on the wrist or sleeve; makes sense for amulets, not for pillows:
https://biblehub.com/text/ezekiel/13-18.htm

What sort of pillow is worn on the arms? Pillow fits with dreams if you put your head on the pillow when you sleep, but not for a pillow worn on the arm! I think this is am important point, as Steiner is giving the impression the "victim" slept - implicitly on the pillow - and the false prophetesses would capture the soul of the "victim" while he dreamed. That does not fit with a pillow worn on the arm, and it does not fit with prophetesses having dreams themselves.

Also, what is the basis for Steiner saying the cloth was stolen?

Pix
Joe: Nephesh never mean breath. That was the association with penuma. in Greek because both deal with the soul. Hebrew for wind or breath was Rosh.

PixYes, my bad.

Though I stand by my point that concluding animals have souls is flawed reasoning.

My dog Arnie did!

Joe: I agree that a multiplicity of meanings are found under the term nephesh.. and that the concept of the soul evolved. Yet Steiner shows they did have a notion of a inner soul in your body serape from he body..

PixI am saying that at one time (pre-exile) they did not have a concept of soul as it is now commonly understood.

Read the Stiner book


Joe: the soul is what surives death, why would Jesus say losing your soul makes winning the world meaningless?

PixSure, but that was not the understanding of pre-exilic Hebrews.

Maybe so maybe not. I don't know bu timer shows they had a concept of souls sperate from the Body. But they had strange ideas we would laugh at now such as your soul wonders in the dream world while you sleep. Although that is not in the bible there is an allusion to itin Ezekiel.


Joe: Puyche did not have the modern connotation of psychology. that's how the Hebrews translated nephesh into Greek. he point is inner being.

PixI was just going on the context. The verse has the same meaning if you were to substitute the word "soul" with "person" or "individual". There is no reason to suppose anything spiritual or supernatural.

False, the verse in Ezekiel deals with women and pillow cases. strange but it refers to their belief that the soul entered the dream world thorugh the pillow. Women would trap the souls through the pillow cases they made and control the man.


Joe: I think something survives death and has an eternal life with God. I think the soul primarily as a metaphor for relationship with God.Thus it represents the surviving aspect because is a result of relationship with God. ie the saved soul.

PixIs that like how the word "table" is a metaphor for the wooden thing you eat you dinner off? I think we all understand how a word represents the thing itself.

that is not analogous to what I said.I was accounting for how they turned a ghost in the machine into a metaphor for one's relationship with God


Or do you mean something else? If a metaphor lives on after you die, how does that benefit you? You are just as dead.

Nothing helps you after you are dead except your relationship with God. But the notion of soul as the overall direction of life in relation to God will beneifiteach new generation.
Pix
The textual history of the book of Ezekiel turns them into female prophets at odds with Ezekiel; reception history turned these women into witches. In their own lifetimes they were probably well-respected religious specialists.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/23488237?seq=1

Bible Hub suggests they were making magical bands or amulets, rather than pillows, which makes far more sense.
https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3704.htm

Verse 18 indicates these items were on the wrist or sleeve; makes sense for amulets, not for pillows:
https://biblehub.com/text/ezekiel/13-18.htm

What sort of pillow is worn on the arms? Pillow fits with dreams if you put your head on the pillow when you sleep, but not for a pillow worn on the arm! I think this is am important point, as Steiner is giving the impression the "victim" slept - implicitly on the pillow - and the false prophetesses would capture the soul of the "victim" while he dreamed. That does not fit with a pillow worn on the arm, and it does not fit with prophetesses having dreams themselves.

Steiner represents an older view which was abandoned by 2th century scholars. He puts the change down to embarrassment a folk beliefs .He argues that his understanding is based upon Akkadian origins of the terminology..

In the nineteenth century, scholars rejected the traditional
interpretation of כסתות) see below) and began to discuss alternative interpretations. Rudolf Smend conjectured that the כסתות in
question were magical bands.1
Friedrich Delitzsch developed this
conjecture, comparing the Hebrew word to Akkadian kasītu and
assigning to the latter the concrete sense of “bond, fetter” on the
basis of a single cuneiform context.2
Biblical scholars quickly seized
on this interpretation, and, for the most part, they have remained
faithful to it to this day.3
They paid little attention when the modern

Akkadian dictionaries undermined this interpretation of כסתות by
rejecting the concrete sense of kasītu suggested by Delitzsch, in the
context known to him and in similar ones published later.4
Another
problem that scholars chose to ignore was the form: kasītu should
mention to notְ , בּ ִכית ,ֲחִנית , ְשׁ ִבית .cfְ * (כּ ִסית as borrowed been have
כּסוּת ,( ְappearing in v. 18 as סיתוֹת ִכּ *ְand in v. 20 as נהָיכ ֶיתוֹת ֵ ס ִכּ) *ְcf.
יהם ֶיתוֹת ֵ נִח ֲin Isa 2:4, etc.; and יתוֹתם ָ ח ִשׁ ְin Lam 4:20, etc.).5
Several
problems with the context were glossed over, as well: fetters are not
sewn (פּרוֹת ְתַמ ְin v. 18); they are not worn by the captor (יכם ֶתֵֹזרוֹע ְin
v. 20);6
and people cannot be hunted or trapped7
ְמצֹ ְדדוֹת) them in
שׁם ָin v. 20) or with them. The cumulative weight of these problems
did not prompt scholars to rethink the Akkadian etymology and
look for a single solution to all of them. Instead, those problems that
were noted were eliminated in an ad hoc fashion through emendation or the like.
[Steiner 28-29]


It has long been recognized that the techniques for trapping נפשות
described in Ezekiel’s prophecy involved magic,1
perhaps even
witchcraft.2
G. A. Cooke, for example, writes:
Prophetesses is too good a name for them; witches or sorceresses
would suit the description better. They played upon the credulity
of the people by magic arts.

This view, nearly unanimous since the nineteenth century,4
was prevalent among the medieval Jewish exegetes as well.5
It is
מְ תַ פְּ רוֹת כְּ סָ תוֹת עַ ל כָּ ל־אַצִּ ילֵ י יָדַ י phrase the of sense plain the on based
irrespective), 18:13 Ezek (וְ עֹשׂוֹת הַ מִּ סְ פָּ חוֹת עַ ל־ר ֹאשׁ כָּ ל־קוֹמָ ה לְ צוֹדֵ ד נְ פָ שׁוֹת
of whether the נפשות in question are people or souls. It is only in
the realm of magic that people are trapped by sewing things on
arms—or that souls are trapped at all. Additional evidence for this
view will be adduced below.[Ibid 23]

Anonymous said…
Joe: My dog Arnie did!

I appreciate that.

Joe: Read the Stiner book

But Steiner's best evidence is a post-exilic book.

Joe: Maybe so maybe not. I don't know bu timer shows they had a concept of souls sperate from the Body. But they had strange ideas we would laugh at now such as your soul wonders in the dream world while you sleep. Although that is not in the bible there is an allusion to itin Ezekiel.

The idea that people can do stuff in their dreams is pretty common in fantasy literature, so no more laughable than the idea that there is a soul that survives your death.

Joe: False, the verse in Ezekiel deals with women and pillow cases. strange but it refers to their belief that the soul entered the dream world thorugh the pillow. Women would trap the souls through the pillow cases they made and control the man.

I was referring to the verse in 2 Peter.

Joe: that is not analogous to what I said.I was accounting for how they turned a ghost in the machine into a metaphor for one's relationship with God

So what do you mean by "metaphor"? By the normal definition, a metaphor is not true. If I was to say "The sun is a golden orb in the sky", that is: (a) a metaphor; and (b) not actually true. Are you really saying a soul is analogous to your relationship to God, but not actually that relationship? do you really think a soul is no more connected to your relationship to God than a golden orb is connected to the sun?

Pix
Anonymous said...
Joe: My dog Arnie did!

I appreciate that.

;-)

Joe: Read the Stiner book

But Steiner's best evidence is a post-exilic book.

No he deals with the time of the prophets and he says the verse in Ezekiel 13 is his best evidence.

Joe: Maybe so maybe not. I don't know bu timer shows they had a concept of souls sperate from the Body. But they had strange ideas we would laugh at now such as your soul wonders in the dream world while you sleep. Although that is not in the bible there is an allusion to itin Ezekiel.

PixThe idea that people can do stuff in their dreams is pretty common in fantasy literature, so no more laughable than the idea that there is a soul that survives your death.

True but I find he soul getting trapped in the pillow is kind of amusing.

Joe: False, the verse in Ezekiel deals with women and pillow cases. strange but it refers to their belief that the soul entered the dream world thorugh the pillow. Women would trap the souls through the pillow cases they made and control the man.

PixI was referring to the verse in 2 Peter.

Joe: that is not analogous to what I said.I was accounting for how they turned a ghost in the machine into a metaphor for one's relationship with God

PixSo what do you mean by "metaphor"? By the normal definition, a metaphor is not true. If I was to say "The sun is a golden orb in the sky", that is: (a) a metaphor; and (b) not actually true.

Metaphors are not literal but they are not untrue per se. WE say"he's a lost soul" it is not literally factual that he is a soul. he's not immaterial. But it is true that he is lost spiritually

PixAre you really saying a soul is analogous to your relationship to God, but not actually that relationship? do you really think a soul is no more connected to your relationship to God than a golden orb is connected to the sun?

I think I just covered that

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