Michael Bieleski – Soul in the New Testament

In the New Testament the word “soul” is sometimes used to translate the Greek word psuche. However, psuche is also translated by other words as well. For example, it is translated about forty times1) in the New Testament as ‘life’ or ‘lives’. Jesus says that we are not to worry about our life which suggests the present life experienced in bodily form.2

Therefore, understanding the way in which such words are translated has important implications. Sometimes the same Greek word is translated by different English words. Sometimes the same English word is used to translate different Greek words in different contexts. Sometimes an English word remains even though it could be replaced by a more effective equivalent. The task of the translator is to find a word that matches the intent of the writer by taking into account the context in which that word is found.

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Glenn Peoples – Is the Resurrection Necessary?

According to the New Testament, it’s the resurrection or nothing. There is no other way to have any existence after death. This means, among other things, that there is no conscious soul able to survive without a body.

Every Christian who takes a stance on the mind-body issue is going to have to live with the fact that there will be certain “problem texts” in the Bible that appear to conflict with the position they take. As a materialist,1 I think there is a very small number of such texts for a materialist view, and I think there are plausible explanations for all of them (for example Jesus’ words to the criminal on the cross Luke 23:43, or Paul’s expressed hope to depart and be with Christ). What one hopes to do is to settle on a view that has fewer problems than all others, and a view with problems that have an explanation in sight. 1 Corinthians 15 presents a problem for a dualistic view of human beings, and it is a problem that appears to have no solution.

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Michael Boling – Thoughts from the Theocratic Kingdom (Vol. 2): Proposition 142


In Proposition 142, George Peters states:

“The Kingdom being related to the earth (extending over it), and involving the res. of the saints (in order to inherit it), is sustained by the promise to the saints of their inheriting the earth.”

Peters begins to tie several previous assertions together in this proposition, noting that if a series of statements is true (which the previous propositions have been determined to be so), then a particular something sustains the saints inheriting the earth. This something is the covenanted promises made by God to His people throughout Scripture. Essentially, these covenant promises are God’s way of telling His people they can rest assured that what He says will take place will take place in the manner declared in those promises. When it comes to the Theocratic-David Kingdom, it will indeed be established on a renewed earth with the saints enjoying its fruits.

The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 142 is the following:

“This doctrine teaches us how to regard the various theories of inheritance, such as the third heaven idea, the central universe notion, the metaphysical heaven (of Good’s, etc.), which gives no place of existence, the spiritualist’s visible unfolding of the invisible, “the Sun our Heaven” (so Mortimore, Wittie, etc.), and the infidel’s no future inheritance. By overlooking the plainest promises and oath-bound covenants, or by spiritualizing them, men manufacture inheritances of their own. No matter that the inheriting of the earth was a favorite Jewish doctrine based on the Messianic prophecies and the predicted supremacy; when Jesus uttered this promise it must be modernized and accommodated to the supposed advanced theological opinions of this age, molded by the influence of some favorite philosophy. No matter that the Patriarchs are personally promised such an inheriting; that the saints, as part of a perfected Redemption, are to realize it; that a thousand predictions direct attention to it, the leaven of the old Gnostic spirit against matter and the claimed higher spirituality, deliberately refuses the plain grammatical sense, and substitutes another sense at the will of the interpreter.”

This is a powerful and important observation. I could unpack a great many things Peters has stated here, but I will focus on an unfortunate reality he has uncovered. That unfortunate reality is the tendency for theologians in particular but also laymen to completely ignore the plain reading of Scripture in order to insert man-made ideologies into the text. Now a good deal of conversation can be had about how to determine what is the plain reading of Scripture. Should every single part of Scripture be taken completely literally? Of course not as certain genre, most notably apocalyptic texts, are replete with symbolic imagery. With that said, even that symbolic imagery is rooted in something we can look back upon to inform our understanding.

When it comes to God’s covenant promises regarding the Theocratic-Davidic Kingdom, the manner in which it will be established, where it will be established, and who will inherit it, let’s just say what God had to say is plain as day. To insert man-made philosophy and ideologies into the text is intellectual dishonesty of the highest order. Unfortunately, the continued influence of Platonic and Gnostic beliefs provides the impetus for many theologians to lay claim to aberrant theology on a number of subjects. What is most unfortunate is a number of Platonic and Gnostic based beliefs become accepted doctrine, not because they are rooted in Scripture, but simply because enough theologians have held sway over the years in support of such notions. It is high time those who declare sola Scriptura actually adhere to that declaration. In doing so, they may find what the have held dear when it comes to theology might need some serious adjustments.

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Glenn Peoples – What is our Soul?

Souls are on the way out. Not just in our culture or in science, where some Christians may suspect “naturalism” as the culprit, but souls are on the way out of our Bibles. This is because of the ways in which our translations are getting better at conveying what was originally intended.

In the King James Version of the Bible, translated in 1611 and the mainstay for Protestants until the 20th century, the English word “soul” appears 537 times. The New American Bible (1986) features the word 171 times, the NIV (1984) features it just 139 times, the NRSV (1989) features it 252 times, but that includes the Deuterocanonical books, and even the ESV (2001), which hearkens back to older more literal translations, features the word just 281 times. The difference is not because of any difference in the manuscripts that these versions are using but because of a better understanding of what the Hebrew and Greek words actually mean.

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George Eldon Ladd – The Greek Versus the Hebrew View of Man

The Greek View

Until we can reconstruct with some confidence the emergence of Gnosticism, it is highly speculative to speak of the influence of Gnostic ideas on the emerging Christian faith. There is, however, a body of Greek literature that contains a view of man and the world very close to that of developed Gnosticism, namely, those Greek philosophical and religious writings that reflect the influence of Platonic dualism. These are writings that are well known and datable; and it is profitable to compare their view of man and the world with the biblical view in both the Old and New Testaments.

Such a comparison leads to two conclusions: that the Greek view14 of man and the world is different in kind from the biblical view; and that the unity and diversity of the several important strands of New Testament thought can be illustrated in terms of this contrast.

The basic problem is that of dualism. However, dualism means different things in the Greek view and in the biblical view.

The view found in Plato and in later thinkers, influenced by him, is essentially the same cosmological dualism as is found in later Gnosticism. Like Gnosticism, Platonism is a dualism of two worlds, one the visible world and the other an invisible “spiritual” world. As in Gnosticism, man stands between these two worlds, related to both. Like Gnosticism, Platonism sees the origin of man’s truest self (his soul) in the invisible world, whence his soul has fallen into the visible world of matter. Like Gnosticism, it sees the physical body as a hindrance, a burden, sometimes even as the tomb of the soul. Like Gnosticism, it conceives of salvation as the freeing of the soul from its entanglement in the physical world that it may wing its way back to the heavenly world. Two further elements found in Gnosticism do not appear in the Platonic philosophers: that matter is ipso facto the source of evil, and that redemption is accomplished by a heavenly redeemer who descends to earth to deliver the fallen souls and lead them back to heaven.

The biblical dualism is utterly different from this Greek view. It is religious and ethical, not cosmological. The world is God’s world; man is God’s creature, although rebellious, sinful and fallen. Salvation is achieved not by a flight from the world but by God’s coming to man in his earthly, historical experience. Salvation never means flight from the world to God; it means, in effect, God’s descent from heaven to bring man in historical experience into fellowship with himself. Therefore the consummation of salvation is eschatological. It does not mean the gathering of the souls of the righteous in heaven, but the gathering of a redeemed people on a redeemed earth in perfected fellowship with God. The theologies of the Synoptic Gospels, of John, and of Paul are to be understood in terms of this Hebrew dualism, and each of them stands in sharp contrast to the Greek dualism. The unifying element in New Testament theology is the fact of the divine visitation of men in the person and mission of Jesus Christ; diversity exists in the progressive unfolding of the meaning of this divine visitation and in the various ways the one revelatory, redeeming event is capable of being interpreted.

Since radical differences between Greek and Hebrew ways of thinking have recently been challenged,15 we must now develop our thesis and document it in detail.

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