perished as P, but those whose hearts were obedient became pneuma.
P had the connotation of a needy N that died without receiving deliverance,
whereas pneuma suggested a P lost through sacrifice which therefore
became safe and secure.
Because the Apostle Peter contrasted P to the passions
of the flesh in I Peter 2:11, the verse often falls prey to the traditional
view of soul. "Beloved, I beseech you as aliens and exiles to abstain
from the passions of the flesh that wage war against your P." Schweizer
stated that this is the most Hellenistic use in the NT since the plain
antithesis between P and sarx (flesh) gives a sense of two parts of man.
(see p. 653) However, this instance of P is not an example of Greek influence;
here too Peter wrote from within the Hebrew tradition for N. P was assailed
and threatened in the same fashion as N. The difference in this instance
is that Peter was referring to a more 'inward' foe than one which attacked
N at the neck. The sarx was understood to be weak and, consequently, referred
to those inward things which drew man into a constant struggle in his
life with other humans before God. Man as a 'P creature' lived in the
flesh, yet as Schweizer himself pointed out "P is not identical to
purely physical life, but P is natural life given to God and received
by Him". (p. 656) The 'inward' struggle for man as P was "to
not restrict life to the purely physical" (p. 654), though the passions
of sarx could facilitate such a restriction. The Jew could easily forget
Christ's statement: "Do not be anxious about your P, what you shall
eat or what you shall drink..." (Mat. 6:25a) Here the Jew was taught
that the sustenance that N needed was really through more than food. "Is
not P more than food, and the soma [body] more than clothing?"
The idea that P was more than food and more than the
'purely' physical was behind the implication found in III John 2 that
P could be sound even if one was in poor health. "Beloved, I pray
that all may go well with you and that you may be in health; I know that
it is well with your P." A sound P was not considered to be
opposed to one's health; after all, the very contrast had its origin
in the Hebrew view that the sound condition of N was dependent upon food
that nourished healthfully, or else! (see Lam. 1:11; Hos. 9:4) Though
the Hebrews of the OT knew that man as N could not live by food alone,
they thought that N could not live soundly if such bread was in short
supply since N living was so bound to that bread which God provided. Similarly,
any form of sickness meant N was in a weak and less vital state and was
far from sound. By the time the NT was written a shift had occurred. The
emphasis became that, before God, P could be sound despite hunger, thirst,
and poor health since actually living as P involved more than food and
more than the body. (see Mat. 6: 25a, 10:28)
I Thessalonians 5:23 is often used to document
the view that man is a trichotomy of body, soul, spirit. "May the
God of peace himself sanctify you wholly; and may your pneuma [spirit]
and P and soma [body] be kept sound and blameless at the coming
of our Lord Jesus Christ." The debate over dichotomy and trichotomy
has occurred throughout the history of the Church; however, this issue would have never even entered the thinking
of an ancient Hebrew. Given his familiarity with Greek thinking, Paul
may have been aware of the dilemma, but he nonetheless used the Greek
language to express his own tradition. Hebrew anthropological terms were
not distinguished in a structural or spatial manner. Similarly, Paul was
not listing three components, parts, or entities of man's nature; he was
not, as the New Bible Dictionary has supposed, "merely
describing the same immaterial part of man in its lower and higher aspects".
(p. 1208; P and pneuma respectively) As shown in the discussion
on I Cor. 15, Paul limited P to the Hebrew tradition. When Paul asked
the Thessalonians to keep P sound and blameless for when Christ would
come, he was exhorting with reference to living as a perishable creature
that needed sustenance and also deliverance through God's providence.
A sound and blameless P was not anxious about P (Mat. 6:25a) and accounted
P as nothing precious (Acts 20:24) since actually God sustained despite
hunger and delivered despite death. A sound and blameless body, on the
other hand, was not anxious about finding clothing or shelter in order
to obtain protection from the elements. "Therefore I tell you, do
not be anxious about your P, what you shall eat or what you shall drink,
nor about your soma [body], what you shall put on. Is not P more than
food, and the soma more than clothing?" (Mat. 6:25) Nor did this
sound and blameless bodily frame need to hide behind fig leaves "at
the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". Paul believed that this frame
requiring protection from the elements was itself the shelter, the tabernacle,
inspired with the Holy Spirit (pneumatikos agion) . Finally,
a sound and blameless pneuma was life-giving; it was inspiring
and refreshing. Paul was not listing structural components but was alluding
to three distinct constellations or fields of meaning which captured different
aspects of sound and blameless Christian living.
When the fifth seal was opened during the revelation
that came to the Apostle John, he "saw under the altar the P of those
who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had born".
(Rev. 6:9) It is very easy to picture that supposed immaterial aspect
of a slain saint waiting during an intermediate state for the time it
might again be housed in a material substance--the body. Nevertheless,
this verse also has its heritage in N of the OT. The P to which John referred
alluded to N-blood that was poured out at the base of the altar.
(see Lev. 4:7,18) The P under the altar were saints who had been slain.
That the saints were referred to as P communicates something about their
death. They had risked their P for Christ to the point of death. The imagery
of John's revelation connected the sacrificial blood of these saints who
had followed Christ's example with the blood of the bull which was poured
out before God at the base of the altar.
Revelation 20:4 records that John "saw the
P of those who had been beheaded for their testimony to Jesus". Their
sacrifice at the neck necessitated that John use P as the most
appropriate term for denoting these Christians. In this instance, as well
as Rev. 6:9, he employed P in order to link their deathes to the sacrifice of P that Christ initiated
when he laid down his P. John saw saints that had achieved what Christ
had asked. John was not intending to make a statement on the eternal condition
of a certain group of P. His vision focussed on the sacrifices made. To
say that P here stands for eternal life is to miss the dramatic imagery
associated with the sacrifice of P. Certainly John saw these saints from
the viewpoint that their beheading was already in the past, but this does
not mean he used P to refer to an eternal state after their beheading.
He termed these saints P only because he was looking back to their deathes
right at the neck. Here John was consistent with Paul. He knew P gained
eternal life through its sacrifice. The saved P received consummation
in eternal life, but that does not mean John or Paul held the view that
followers of Christ existed eternally as P.
At first glance the NT appears to exhibit contradictory
meanings for P; it can suggest a perishable, needy status like N and yet
the emphasis is often that P can be safe and secure. The apparent contradiction
occurs because P was often limited to the OT scope for N while on other
occasions P was employed to indicate an 'opening up' of N that developed
it into the message of the NT.
E. Schweizer referred to these two different
uses when he commented on the losing and saving of P in Mark 8:35. "Both
the reference to preserving the P and also the positively assessed losing
of the P shows that primarily the reference is to what is commonly called
life, i.e., physical life on earth. The promise that life will be saved,
however, shows that what is in view is true and full life as God the Creator
made and fashioned it." (p. 650) He accurately noted that P could
refer to the 'true life' as distinct from the 'purely physical life'.
The 'true life' is life as supreme good, lived before God rather than
life as a natural phenomenon". (p. 645) The 'true life' is kept by
God for eternity only in the lasting sacrifice of life and permanently
lived by the gift of God. (see p. 643) As physical life, P is just natural
life (Schweizer cited Acts 20:10, 27:22; Mat. 6:25b), that is, the life
given as a ransom for many (see Mark 10:45) and this life that is limited
and threatened by death. (see p. 635)
However, in this article Schweizer was unable
to draw this distinction into a unified perspective which is able to explain
how the NT writers could use P to refer to both the 'true life', as he
terms it, and the 'purely physical life'. One can only understand this
way of using P once one comprehends the development of N into P. Instances
where Schweizer maintained that P stands for the 'purely physical life'
are cases where P is but a translation of N and instances where he maintained
that P stands for the 'true life' are cases where P is but N opened up'
into the NT message. Because he did not realize that both ways of using
P were brought into one constellation of meaning through the synthetic
imagery of man as perishable N facing the threat of enemies