Creation of the earth and man #13 Formation of man #5 Living soul

Now, if it be asked, what do the scriptures define “a living soul” to be? — the answer is, a living natural, or animal, body, whether of birds, beasts, fish or men. The phrase living creature is the exact synonym of living soul. The Hebrew words nephesh chayiah are the signs of the ideas expressed by Moses. Nephesh signifies creature, also life, soul, or breathing frame, from the verb to breathe: chayiah is of life — a noun from the verb to live. Nephesh chayiah is the genus which includes all species of living creatures; namely, Adam, man; beme, beast of the field; chitu, wild beast; remesh, reptile; and ouph, fowl, etc. In the common version of the scriptures, it is rendered living soul; so that under this form of expression the scriptures speak of “all flesh” which breathes in air, earth, and sea.

Writing about body, the apostle says,

“There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body”.

But, he does not content himself with simply declaring this truth; he goes further, and proves it by quoting the words of Moses, saying,

“For so it is written, the first man Adam was made into a living soul—εἰς ψυχὴν ζω̂σαν;

and then adds,

“the last Adam into a spirit giving life, εἰς πνευ̂μα ζωοποιου̂ν”. {1 Corinthians 15:44, 45}.

Hence, in another place, speaking of the latter, he says of him.

“Now the Lord is the spirit—ὁ δὲ χὺριος τὸ πνευ̂μἀ ἐστιν. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are changed into his image from glory into glory, as by the Lord the Spirit—ἀπό χυρίου πνέυματος”. {2 Corinthians 3:17, 18.}

The proof of the apostle’s proposition that there is a natural body as distinct from a spiritual body, lies in the testimony, that

“Adam was made into a living soul”;

showing that he considered a natural, or animal body, and a living soul, as one and the same thing. If he did not, then there was no proof in the quotation, of what he affirmed.
A man then is a body of life in the sense of his being an animal, or living creature nephesh chayiah adam. As a natural man, he has no other pre-eminence over the creatures God made than what his peculiar organization confers upon him. Moses makes no distinction between him and them; for he styles them all living souls, breathing the breath of lives. Thus, literally rendered, he says,

“The Elohim said, The waters shall produce abundantly sheretz chayiah nephesh, the reptile living soul”;

and again,

“kal nephesh, chayiah erameshat, every living soul creeping”.

In another verse,

“Let the earth bring forth nephesh chayiah, the living soul after its kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth”,

etc.; and

“lekol rumesh ol eretz asher bu nephesh chayiah, to every thing creeping upon the earth which (has) in it living breath”, {Genesis 1:20, 21, 24, 30}

that is, breath of lives.
And lastly,

“Whatsoever Adam called nephesh chayiah, the living soul, that was the name thereof”. {Genesis 2:19}

Creation of Adam and Eve The murder of Abel-MB...
Creation of Adam and Eve The murder of Abel-MBA Lyon D312-IMG 0643 0644 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Quadrupeds and men, however, are not only “living souls” but they are vivified by the same breath and spirit. In proof of this, I remark first, that the phrase “breath of life” in the text of the common version is neshemet chayim in the Hebrew; and that, as chayim is in the plural, it should be rendered breath of lives. Secondly, this neshemet chayim is said to be in the inferior creatures as well as in man. Thus, God said,

“I bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh wherein is ruach chayim, spirit of live”. {Genesis 6:17}

And in another place,

“They went in to Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, in which is ruach chayim, spirit of lives ”.

“And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast, and of every creeping thing, and every man; all in whose nostrils was neshemet ruach chayim, Breath Of Spirits Of Lives”. { Genesis 7:15, 21, 22}.

Now, as I have said, it was the neshemet, chayim with which Moses testifies God inflated the nostrils of Adam; if, therefore, this were divina particula auræ, particle of the divine essence, as it is affirmed, which became the “immortal soul” in man, then all other animals have “immortal souls” likewise; for they all received “breath of spirit of lives” in common with man.
From these testimonies, I think, it must be obvious to the most unlearned, that the argument for the existence of an “immortal soul” in “sinful flesh”, hereditarily derived from the first sinner, predicated on the inspiration of his nostrils with “the breath of lives” by the Lord God, and the consequent application to him of the phrase “living soul”, if admitted as good logic, proves too much, and therefore nothing to the purpose. For if man be proved to be immortal in this sense, and upon such premises as these, then all quadrupeds are similarly immortal; which none, I suppose, but believers in the transmigration of souls, would be disposed to admit.

– Thomas, D. J. Elpis Israel: an exposition of the Kingdom of God (electronic ed., pp. 31–33). Birmingham, UK: The Christadelphian.

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Preceding article: Creation of the earth and man #12 Formation of man #4 Constitution of man

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Additional reading:

  1. Science, belief, denial and visibility 1
  2. Fragments from the Book of Job #6: chapters 38-42
  3. The Soul not a ghost
  4. Is there an Immortal soul
  5. Looking at three “I am” s
  6. Elul Observances
  7. A philosophical error which rejects the body as part of the human person
  8. The chief function of the body is to carry the brain around
  9. We all are changed into the same image from glory to glory

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