Edited by Dr. Arnold H. De Graaff & Dr. James H. Olthuis
Toronto, Ontario



by Tory Hoff

General Outline
(Use the links below to review each section & the browser back button to return.)


Common definition for soul; Greek influence; 20th-Century emphasis on the wholeness and unity of man; problem of interpreting nephesh in light of present-day views of soul; influence of cultural anthropology on early Biblical classics; synthetic thinking revealed in a 'grasping of a totality'.

Further assumptions

Hebrews thought and lived in the concrete and not the abstract; linguistic unity and fluidity of nephesh; synthetic thinking of the Hebrews' perceived imagery associated with nephesh which created a 'theme' that was intrinsic to the meaning of nephesh.

Linguistic data

Throat or neck as the organ through which nephesh breathed;Accadian and Ugaritic cognates; nephesh in the blood; questions on the nature of the association of nephesh to the throat, neck, breath, and blood.

Nephesh in the Old Testament

A. thematic imagery: the threat of danger and the need for deliverance, theme from an experiential viewpoint revealed emotional content in a peculiar context.
B. nature of man described in Gen. 2:7, nephesh of a stranger and the implication; views of Pedersen, John­son, and Wolff; nephesh and its particular status in creation.
C. answer to questions on the relation of nephesh to body parts, throat as the organ through which nephesh received vital nourishment and breathed neshamah and life-giving ruah; nephesh vulnerable at the neck; nephesh equated with the blood; sacred nephesh as the 'core' of human living.
D. nephesh and leb, both desired yet not in the same way; wicked nephesh devoured.
E. nephesh and death, death as the weakest form of life; rephaim dwelt in sheol but nephesh; sheol and the sea; Jonah overboard; to die in honour or shame; nephesh ceased at death; corpse as nephesh could bring defile­ment; semantic polarization?
F. demonstration of unity and fluidity of nephesh, magical necklets of Is. 3:20; nephesh hayyah referred to either man or animal; God as nephesh could almost perish if...; enumerated nephesh in bondage but are given a promise.

Transition to psuche in the New Testament

Use of the plural beginning with the exilic period; writers of the New Testament molded the Greek language to form Hebrew conceptions; abstaining from food with blood and food strangled; psuche for trans­lating Old Testament quotes and expressions using nephesh.

Psuche in the New Testament

A. Christ developed the theme into the New Testament message, sacrificing psuche drinking his blood; psuche saved despite even death; how James, Peter, and Paul demonstrated this development in their epistles.
B. verses susceptible to misinterpretation, Acts 20:10, psuche that returned; Heb. 4:12, division of psuche and pneuma; I Pt. 2:11, passions of the flesh against psuche III Jn. 2, psuche was sound despite poor health; I Thes. 5:23, body, soul, spirit?; Rev. 8:9, 20:4, psuche slain and beheaded yet life after death?
C. review of Schweizer's article, problems on the relation of nephesh to both the 'true life' and the 'physical life'; his questions; his positive contribution.

Understanding the fulfillment of the promise

Contradiction that death presents; monism and dualism; observation of death as an origin of the body/soul dualism; Israelites did not have to reduce themselves to a misconceived hope; psuche, fish, and baptism; analogy of the seed; new status for psuche.