Bible beliefs: Does a soul exist separately from the body?

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Honey69
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27 Apr 2024, 8:21 am

Over in Reddit, I asked Bible scholars

Quote:

Does the Bible contain the belief in a soul that exists separately from the body?

I gather that Christians of yore were looking forward to the resurrection of the BODY and final judgment. There doesn't seem to be any concept of a soul existing independently of the body.

Now, a lot of Christians seem to believe that the souls of believers separate from the body and enter Heaven immediately after death (or, go the other way). Which suggests that graveyards serve no purpose.

At what point did the idea of the soul enter Christianity? Did the concept derive from Greek philosophy?



So far, I have received one response from someone with a

PhD in NT Greek wrote:

I can’t find a good academic source for this, so the mods will be right to delete it. But in brief, you are right. The concept of a soul independent of the body is from Greek philosophy. The bible is not totally clear, since it uses the words "soul" and "spirit" in several places, but the main idea is that we are a living body.

Death is therefore real, and we are resurrected as a living body.



It seems strange that there would be no academic sources, as this is one of Christianity's most fundamental issues.

Jesus ascended bodily into Heaven. The Catholics will tell you that his mom did the same.

I heard some Jehovah's Witnesses claim that everyone who ever lived will come back to life on Earth, and live forever. Which suggests that the soul is not separate from the body.

Mohammedans appear to think that the soul leaves the body and goes directly either to Heaven or Hell.

Hindus and Buddhists would have our souls reincarnate into another body.

So, which is it?


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RedDeathFlower13
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27 Apr 2024, 8:57 am

I think like Lisa said in The Simpsons that there's also a belief among some philosophers that nobody is "born with a soul" but that we all have to earn our souls through thoughtfulness.

That's kind of reflected in the stories of the original Little Mermaid (not the Disney crap) where the main character was told that mermaids had no souls and turned to sea foam after death, so she tried to gain a human soul herself by having the sea witch turn her into a human.

Another example is the Greek Myth of Psyche the mortal girl who endured much hardship to be with her husband the God Eros whom she loved greatly. After she completed her many painful trials the Gods granted her permission to drink from a cup of Ambrosia to gain immortality so that Psyche and Eros would be together for all eternity, and as a new Goddess her sacred symbol became the butterfly which symbolized the human soul transforming after death.


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ToughDiamond
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27 Apr 2024, 9:47 am

I never accepted the idea of a real soul. There are so many aspects of mental activity that science has shown to be functions of the physical brain, that there wouldn't be much left for a soul to take with it if it flew away. So I suppose the "immortal soul" is one of those concepts that used to seem more plausible before we found out a thing or two about how the stuff between our ears works, but it's hard for some people to abandon it because doing that means accepting that when they die, they really will cease to exist, which can be a very scary thought if you're not used to it.

I've seen the occasional bit of fiction about people who lost their souls, and the authors seem to think they'd be incapable of emotion, warmth, or moral judgements. I found them rather laughable because I see those qualities as functions of the brain.

I'm happy enough with the concept of a soul as a metaphor though. I even used the word "soul" in a song I wrote once. But that was art. When I see the word "spiritual" I take it to mean emotional, aesthetic, or artistic.



Honey69
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28 Apr 2024, 8:53 am

Here is one answer from the Christianity subreddit

Quote:

The Bible doesn't teach that the soul is a separate entity from our body that leaves the physical body. Both Hebrew and Greek words for soul mean life, living being, personality. The soul is the physical and spiritual come together in completion to create a living being. you are a soul, you don't have a soul. According to Jewish and Greek usage of the word animals and plants are also souls, living beings. So when the physical body dies there is no life, no soul. And if there is no soul, or life, the physical body dies. That's why we need to be resurrected by Christ. To become a soul, a living being, again. Jesus, in multiple scenarios, requested death to sleep. He doesn't call people dead, he calls them asleep. There is no life without the physical body in the equation.

The concept that the soul can be separate from the body and pure when it leaves the impure physical body to become perfect is a Platonic teaching created by Plato and Aristotle and seeped it's way into theology in the early middle ages when Greek philosophy had a Renaissance.


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ToughDiamond
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28 Apr 2024, 9:11 am

^
I guess that explains the phrase "Asleep in Jesus" I've seen on Victorian gravestones. I can see the attraction of seeing it like that - "Being eaten by maggots" wouldn't be such a comfort to the bereaved.

Souls seem to have different qualities depending on who you read. Yesterday a fundamentalist who has just done hundreds of hours of religious training declared to me categorically that each of us is made of 3 parts - the physical body (which I don't deny), the soul, and what he called the "spirit." :?



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28 Apr 2024, 9:23 am

Ask a Hindu. You'll get a better answer. Christians aren't really into souls.


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Honey69
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28 Apr 2024, 11:45 am

Things are picking up in the Christianity subreddit, if anyone wants to take a gander.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Christianity/c ... oul_exist/


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ToughDiamond
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28 Apr 2024, 5:43 pm

I took a look and found this:

ArrantPariah on Reddit wrote:
........There are so many aspects of mental activity that science has shown to be functions of the physical brain, that there wouldn't be much left for a soul to take with it if it flew away. So I suppose the "immortal soul" is one of those concepts that used to seem more plausible before we found out a thing or two about how the stuff between our ears works, but it's hard for some people to abandon it because doing that means accepting that when they die, they really will cease to exist, which can be a very scary thought if you're not used to it.


I thought it looked familiar, then realised it was what I'd posted here yesterday, verbatim. I had no idea anybody had read what I wrote. 8)

Actually my fundie acquaintance, while trying to preach to me, happened to mention that you get a new body when you get to the Good Place, so bang goes another fine logical argument of mine :cry:

After a bit of digging, I found these scriptural quotes:

Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Straight from Jesus' mouth, according to Matthew,whoever he was. So that looks clear, until some clever dick figures out an interpretation that muddies the water again.

And here's where my fundie acquaintance seems to have got his idea of a tripartite entity:

Thessalonians 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I know it's only Paul, but it must be correct because the Holy Trinity also has 3 parts. It's to balance the machine so we don't get catapulted into the next universe where it would be impossible to be close to God ever again. Anyway, 3 is one of those magic numbers, so there.

I see the Reddit thread is talking about the nature of hell also. Seems rather tangential of them. They should get their own thread.



Honey69
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29 Apr 2024, 7:56 am

ToughDiamond wrote:

I thought it looked familiar, then realised it was what I'd posted here yesterday, verbatim. I had no idea anybody had read what I wrote. 8)



Yes. I'm glad that you're taking my plagiarism as a compliment. :wink:

ToughDiamond wrote:

Actually my fundie acquaintance, while trying to preach to me, happened to mention that you get a new body when you get to the Good Place, so bang goes another fine logical argument of mine :cry:



I remember someone telling me that, too. I don't know if it comes from the Bible or not.

ToughDiamond wrote:

Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Straight from Jesus' mouth, according to Matthew,whoever he was. So that looks clear, until some clever dick figures out an interpretation that muddies the water again.



That does look as if the soul can continue to exist without the body. If your body has been cremated, and your ashes spread to the wind, then it would be tough to resurrect you. Or, if you've been buried long enough to have been converted completely to worm pooh. But, early Christians seem to have believed that our bodies would be resurrected. It is in the Apostles' Creed.

ToughDiamond wrote:

And here's where my fundie acquaintance seems to have got his idea of a tripartite entity:

Thessalonians 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I know it's only Paul, but it must be correct because the Holy Trinity also has 3 parts. It's to balance the machine so we don't get catapulted into the next universe where it would be impossible to be close to God ever again. Anyway, 3 is one of those magic numbers, so there.


So the spirit and soul are separate entities? That might be a good one for the Reddit Christians.


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RedDeathFlower13
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29 Apr 2024, 9:46 am

Maybe a "soul" is nothing more than human energy?

And just like the ancient world believed, nobody is garunteed eternal life after death unless they did something so historic and great that they get remembered even thousands of years later. The rest of us might get remembered for a while by our surviving family and friends but over time we fade away out of memory.


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ToughDiamond
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29 Apr 2024, 3:38 pm

Honey69 wrote:
Yes. I'm glad that you're taking my plagiarism as a compliment. :wink:

Of course. I don't believe either of us can monetise my ideas, or that I was the first person in the world to have them. I'm just glad to see I was listened to. I'd like to see an upvote button on WP, so that people could easily indicate when they were impressed, without having to make a post when they've nothing to add.

Quote:
ToughDiamond wrote:
Actually my fundie acquaintance, while trying to preach to me, happened to mention that you get a new body when you get to the Good Place, so bang goes another fine logical argument of mine :cry:

I remember someone telling me that, too. I don't know if it comes from the Bible or not
.
The nearest scriptural allusions to it that I've found are:

Philippians 3:20-21 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body

With evidence as weak as that, it's probably not surprising many people hold that we don't know it to be a fact. But my fundie acquaintance seems to think he does.
Quote:
ToughDiamond wrote:
Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Straight from Jesus' mouth, according to Matthew,whoever he was. So that looks clear, until some clever dick figures out an interpretation that muddies the water again.

That does look as if the soul can continue to exist without the body. If your body has been cremated, and your ashes spread to the wind, then it would be tough to resurrect you. Or, if you've been buried long enough to have been converted completely to worm pooh. But, early Christians seem to have believed that our bodies would be resurrected. It is in the Apostles' Creed.

Hmm......"the resurrection of the body" - as rather a thickie on theological matters, I'm left wondering whose body they meant. Could have been Jesus' body. If only they'd said "our bodies" then it would have been a lot clearer.

Quote:
ToughDiamond wrote:
And here's where my fundie acquaintance seems to have got his idea of a tripartite entity:
Thessalonians 5:23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I know it's only Paul, but it must be correct because the Holy Trinity also has 3 parts. It's to balance the machine so we don't get catapulted into the next universe where it would be impossible to be close to God ever again. Anyway, 3 is one of those magic numbers, so there.

So the spirit and soul are separate entities? That might be a good one for the Reddit Christians.

Indeed. Feel free to use it, though maybe my remark about catapulting ought to be left out. I have a strange feeling it could be deemed flippant. Ditto for magic numbers.



Honey69
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03 May 2024, 8:18 am

A response from someone with a PhD in Theology and Religious Studies

Quote:

There are many books that touch on this. A recent noteworthy one is N. T. Wright's Surprised by Hope, and he gets into the ambiguous passages. He generally favors the view you expressed, but with nuance because certain passages do indicate a belief in souls, such as Mt 10:28. Also, Paul appears to freely mix a Hellenistic post-mortem state in which the soul goes to God with the belief in resurrection in 2 Corinthians 5. There is also talk of disembodied souls in Sheol in pseudepigraphal writings like Enoch and Esdras. Greek influence on Judaism began before Paul and Jesus.



A PhD in Theology and Religious Studies can certainly come in handy sometimes.


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ToughDiamond
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03 May 2024, 10:38 am

Honey69 wrote:
A response from someone with a PhD in Theology and Religious Studies

Quote:

There are many books that touch on this. A recent noteworthy one is N. T. Wright's Surprised by Hope, and he gets into the ambiguous passages. He generally favors the view you expressed, but with nuance because certain passages do indicate a belief in souls, such as Mt 10:28. Also, Paul appears to freely mix a Hellenistic post-mortem state in which the soul goes to God with the belief in resurrection in 2 Corinthians 5. There is also talk of disembodied souls in Sheol in pseudepigraphal writings like Enoch and Esdras. Greek influence on Judaism began before Paul and Jesus.



A PhD in Theology and Religious Studies can certainly come in handy sometimes.

All I got was an 'O' level. :cry: Though it's such a vast subject that I think a person could spend their whole life on it and still not know what scripture is trying to say. Scholars often have divided opinions about these matters, and the wiser ones give nuanced answers. But church leaders are usually another matter. Many of them think they categorically know the answers. And unfortunately leaders are usually expected to be decisive and to give simplistic, polarised opinions which cut no ice with the intelligentsia but seem to work wonderfully on many uneducated minds. So it's rare that a successful preacher expresses realistic uncertainty in public.

Excuse the off-topic tilt at arrogant preachers. I'm still smarting from being subjected to one the other day.



aghogday
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03 May 2024, 10:39 am



According to Stellar Biblical Scholar, Bart Ehrman,
With His Nervous 'Kamala Harris Giggle,' the Majority

of Biblical Scholars Agree, The Bible Reports No Separation
of Body and Soul; In Other Words, Both Resurrect Together;

Hehe, i Agree This is Possible Now as i've Been a Long Term
Sufferer When Body and Mind And Soul, For All Practical Intents

And Purposes are Separated;

i Defer to the Research of

(As He Affirms with Appropriate
Pedigree, What i've Intuited ALong
The Way in Case-Study Research)

Iain McGilChrist, Well Respected Writer,
Oxford Literary Scholar Fellow, Head of a Psychiatry
Department in the UK, Neuro-Imaging Researcher,

(If You Don't Wanna Read His 1500 Page Research
Book, He Summarizes it in 28 Volumes on YouTube,

All Commercial Free [NO SOLAR PANEL ADVERTS])

On the Cutting Edge of Modern Research into the
Processes of the Left And Right Hemispheres of
the Brain, Where the Left Hemisphere Tends to

Materially Reduce Reality, With Emotions Mostly
Limited to Anger and Discontent, attempting to
Force Control on Reality; Yes, Materially Reducing

Reality With Symbols Like Words of Course; Conversely, the Right
Hemisphere With More Complex Pro-Social Emotions; 'Seeing',
Feeling, Sensing the Holistic Gestalt of Reality Moving, Connecting,

And Co-Creating ThiS Way With Real Artistic Emotional (HEarT) Expressions of 'SPiRiT'

By Metaphor Of

Our Right Hemispheres
of Mind When Lost in

A More Materially

Reducing Controlling
Angry Left Hemisphere

Restricting Way of Life

May be Referred to As 'Soul'
Versus Mechanical Cognition
Systemizing Minds of Order and Control; Yes Soul,

Per Right Hemisphere Ways of Processing our Realities
That in Part We Do Hallucinate And Co-Create As Well
As Modern Neuroscience Also Currently Shows in Research;

Dear Lord, It's Not Hard For me to imagine a Bunch of Angry
Old Dudes, Who 'Think' They are in Charge of Their Worlds,

Meeting at the Middle Eastern Desert Hardee's Breakfast Club

Trying To Figure Out An Existential Intelligence That Explains

What Words Cannot Easily Describe as the Reality We Exist Uniquely in Now;

Yeah, i've
Seen it Locally
Both at Hardee's
And in Church Services too;

Here's a Modern Fact; What Human Beings
Currently Have the Least Understanding of Now

Are the Conscious and Subconscious Processes of the
Human Existence That is Actually the Most Real Experience
Any Of Us Will Ever Exist in Now; Uniquely, Each and Every One
of Us in the Multi-Uni-Verses We Move, Connect, and Co-Create Now;

As Those Who Specialize in Research Go; Sadly, McGilChrist Didn't Touch
The Area Below of the Brain Named The Cerebellum That Has Nearly 4 Times
The Neurons Than the Neo-Cortex; Newer Research in This Area Indicates that

The Cerebellum's Functions Influence Our Social Empathic Abilities to Relate and
Connect to Other Folks Through Non-Verbal, Moving, Social Reciprocal Communication of Course;

Also, Regulating Emotions And Integrating Senses as Moving Meditation As Modern Science Also Shows

Does as Well As It's Even a Therapy For Autistic Folks to Greater Develop These abilities that are Recognized

As Deficits in the 'Condition;'

In Short, Without any of this Research;
Only Intuiting How to Get Back in Touch
With my 'SouL, The Holistic View;' Yep, My HeART,'
COMPLEX Emotions;

Yep, my SPiRiT

to Relate And Express

With Others as i Continue
to Free Dance and Sing in Life;

Yep, as a Mind and Body In Balance
For a Whole Soul; Left and Right Hemispheres
Holding Hands With the Cerebellum Fully Functioning

Finally Like

A Ferrari; All Tuned
From Head to Toe;

All 64 Cylinders in

Tune as hehe, i Turn
That Age on June 6th...

Stronger, Faster, More Creative,
More Productive Than Ever, All

Empirically Measured And Provided

With the Evidence At Hand With SMiLes;

Best Part of All; No Myth; All Organic and Real Now;

Worth
Being Born for
And Dying For the SaMe...

For Those Who Truly Live Fully,

They
Come

All Naturally

to Understand

What the Meaning

Of Life Is: Fully Live Now...

The Four Professionals Who Diagnosed
me and My Sister With Asperger's

Syndrome; All Agree For All

Practical Intents And Purposes

For the Most Difficult Deficits

on the Autism Spectrum; i Found
The Remedies that Work For me to Remediate

Those Deficits; So Simple, Just Returning to a Free Dance and Song;

Integrating my Mind and Body; My Real Organic HeaRT, SPiRiT, and SoUL

Head to Toe
And So

Very
Much More
As Expressed of
Course in Real Organic Spirit of Art..:)



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