Gnostic Doctrine

Friday, 17 August 2018

What Is the Meaning of the Word “Soul”?

What Is This Thing Called “Soul”?

The English word comes from the Old English sawol, meaning the "intellectual and emotional part of a person.

The text from the nag hammadi libray The Exegesis on the Soul says "Wise men of old gave the soul a feminine name." This is true because the word soul is a Feminine Noun, in hebrew, Greek and Coptic

First when it comes to understanding the meaning of the word soul as used in the Bible we should look to the bible and Hebrew and Greek Lexicons of the old and new testaments for the interpretation

an article on wikipedia on the scriptural meaning of the soul says

The traditional concept of an immaterial and immortal soul distinct from the body was not found in Judaism before the Babylonian exile,[1] but developed as a result of interaction with Persian and Hellenistic philosophies.[2] Accordingly, the Hebrew word נֶ֫פֶשׁ‎, nephesh, although translated as "soul" in some older English Bibles, actually has a meaning closer to "living being". Nephesh was rendered in the Septuagint as ψυχή (psūchê), the Greek word for soul. The New Testament also uses the word ψυχή, but with the Hebrew meaning and not the Greek

The Lexicons define the Hebrew word Nephesh to mean: Breath, Soul, Spirit, Life, Mind etc. for these are its many uses in Hebrew. But the root meaning is breather. A soul is a breather literally.

In the N.T., "soul" is represented by the Greek psuche as the equivalent of the Hebrew nephesh. Of the 106 places where it occurs therein, in 45 places it is specifically said to be subject to death. In Matt. 6:25 where it is rendered "life", it is taught that from the soul spring the appetites of our present existence on earth. Both nephesh and psuche are derived from roots signifying to breathe; hence "a living soul" denotes a living, breathing creature.

The Scriptures give spirit, soul, and body as constituting all of man.

12 For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul [ ψυχή psykhḗand spirit [ πνεῦμα pneuma], and of joints and [their] marrow, and [is] able to discern thoughts and intentions of [the] heart (Hebrews 4). Compare Php 1:27; 1Th 5:23.

The “spirit” (Heb., ruach; Gr., pneuma) should not be confused with the “soul” (Heb., nephesh; Gr., psykhe´), for they refer to different things.

Paul the Apostle used ψυχή (psychē) and πνεῦμα (pneuma) specifically to distinguish between the Jewish notions of נפש (nephesh) and רוח ruah (spirit)

So the soul and the spirit are two different things, and the difference between them is explained by the bible.
The Nature of the Soul
The natural body of flesh and blood is referred to in the Greek as the body of the soul:

1cor 15:44 It is sown a body of the soul (literally in Greek - a soulical body) , it is raised a body of the spirit; if there is a body of the soul, there is also of the spirit:— 45 Thus, also, it is written—The first man, Adam, became, a living soul, the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 Howbeit, not first, is the [body] of the spirit, but that, of the soul,—afterwards, that of the spirit. (Rotherham's Emphasized Bible)

The word nephesh, soul, denotes the body; elsewhere it relates to the life: "the life {nephesh — soul) is in the blood" (Lev. 17:11, 14).

Koehler and Baumgartner’s Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros (Leiden, 1958, p. 627) defines it as: “the breathing substance, making man a[nd] animal living beings Gn 1, 20, the soul (strictly distinct from the greek notion of soul) the seat of which is the blood Gn 9, 4f Lv 17, 11 Dt 12, 23:

Gen 9:4 Only flesh with its soul—its blood—YOU must not eat (NWT)

The statement of this verse is literally true, for the bloodstream is the bearer of life throughout the body: a teaching of the Bible which science has confirmed. Blood was prohibited as an article of diet because it represented the life of the body which should be given up to God exclusively, as it is by self-sacrifice

Leviticus 17:11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (King James Version)

The word for "life" is nephesh, which is from a root signifying to breach. It is literally true that the breath is the blood, for the blood stream conveys oxygen as well as nourishment to the various parts of the body, without which it would die.

When God "breathed into Adam the breath of life" he became a "living creature" (Gen. 2:7). He commenced to breath, and hence to live. Blood and breath are vital to human life, but Dot to divine nature, such as is promised to the redeemed in the age to come (2 Pet. 1:4). Hence Paul taught that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 15:50), though flesh energised by spirit will do so. Originally, the prohibition of blood rested upon all in covenant relationship with Yahweh, but not upon those who were outside of the covenant (Deut. 14:21).

Lev 17:11 For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for YOU to make atonement for YOUR souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul [in it]. (NWT)

gen 2:7 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. (King James Version)

7:22 of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. (New American Standard Bible)

[body + spirit = living soul]

The Genesis account shows that a living soul results from the combination of the earthly body with the breath of life. The expression “breath of the spirit of life" (Ge 7:22) indicates that it is by breathing air (with its oxygen) that the breath, or “spirit,” in all creatures, man and animals, is sustained. 

Humans can kill human souls...

22 And in case men should struggle with each other and they really hurt a pregnant woman and her children do come out but no fatal accident occurs, he is to have damages imposed upon him without fail according to what the owner of the woman may lay upon him; and he must give it through the justices.
23 But if a fatal accident should occur, then you must give soul for soul,
24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
25 branding for branding, wound for wound, blow for blow (Exodus 21).

So there it is. A soul is a body. And a dead soul is a dead body.

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