Science in Christian Perspective
Letter to the Editor
Response on Body and Soul
Rev. F. W. Haberer
1845 5. Highland
Clearwarter, Florida 33516
From: JASA 25 (September 1973): 128.
May I please indicate an important error in the article, "The Concept of the Soul in Psychology and Religion," (Journal ASA 24, 147 (1972)) which reads that God breathed into Adam's nostrils the "breath (ruah) of life; and man became a living soul (nepes) (Gen. ii:7,)." The Hebrew text states that God breathed into Adam's nostrils the nishmath chayim; not ruah. Also the proper pronunciation of the parenthetical nepes, should be nephesh. The manner of pronunciation is minor, but the use of rush for nishsmath, is contrary to the Hebrew text.
Actually there are two Hebrew words for "soul:" nephesh, which Adam became upon God's giving him the nishmat chayim, and neshamah, the construct case which occurs in the above phrase ( nishsmath chayim ). It is true that nephesh is used as the vital principle of both animals and men and other living things. But neshamah is something which God gave to man and not to other living things. It distinguishes man from all other living things.
In his Introduction, Dr. Howard says that biblical data "do not provide any grounds for the traditional 'dipartite' or 'tripartite' views of man,"
However, Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God is able to cause "the dividing asunder of soul and spirit This
is in agreement with I Thessalouians 5:23, which says that the believer's "whole spirit and soul and body (may) he preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." In the light of this last quotation, it is true as Dr. Howard says that "man's redemption is a bodily event ... any future state must be peopled by real beings and not incorporeal spirits." The dead will be raised and given "resurrection bodies." Jesus appeared in a resurrection body of "flesh and bones." (Luke 24:39).
At the top of that same column Dr. Howard says that the Christian view is that "man is a unity." That is true, but we must beware that we do not fall into the error of rabbinical Judaism, which postulates that Cod is a "unity" but denies the reality of Cod's being a trinity. They make the mistake of using the Hebrew pachid, meaning a "unit," instead of the Biblical echad in Deuteronomy 6:4, and Genesis chapter 1, and in other places; where "cc/sod" plainly indicates a "unity" based upon a "plurality." Man and woman become one ("echad"). Day and night become one ("echad") day, coinposed of darkness and light.
Dr. Howard says "it is impossible to distinguish between psyche and pneuma as representative of man's personality." But the Bible says that they are different and are both included in man's personality.
He also says, "The word 'flesh' is ... never used as .something over against nepes or ruah." But Leviticus 17:10-14 distinguishes between nephesh, here translated sometimes as "life" and sometimes as "soul," and dam translated "blood," and basar, translated "flesh." Galatians 5:1726 contrasts the "flesh" (sarx) and "spirit" (pneuma), and their fruits in the believer. So sometimes his statement "psyche in this context refers to the totality of man's being and not to some part of it," would be correct, and yet at other times, psyche, does not mean the entire man, as e.g., Galatians 5, Romans 8, Luke 10:27, 1 Cor. 15:24.
There is much of value in Dr. Howard's article. I enjoyed, although did not agree with everything he said. The other articles were also excellent, especially the dialogue on evolution. I agree with Mr. Moore's criticism of Dr. Coffey's position.
Again thanking you for the journal, and for your courtesy to considering this rather lengthy letter.