soul

soul

A word in the Hebrew Bible with a wide range of meanings. “Soul” may refer to an individual person: Leah bore sixteen “souls” (children) to Jacob (Gen 46:18; NRSV: “persons”). Or it may refer to the life principle, to that which makes a human being alive: God “breathed the breath of life” into Adam and he became a “living soul” (Gen 2:7; NRSV: “living being”). In this latter sense, one may fear for one’s soul (Ezek 32:10), risk one’s soul (Judg 5:18), or take one’s soul (1Kgs 19:4). For a Hebrew, “soul” indicated the unity of a human person; the Greek notion, by contrast, allowed for dualism between body and soul, understanding the “soul” to be immortal and distinct from the body. Although the NT was written in Greek, its authors use the word “soul” with the basic Hebrew field of meaning. The concept of “immortality of the soul” was abhorrent to early Christians, because it rendered resurrection unnecessary (1Cor 15:35-54). Thus, in the NT “soul” is often simply a synonym for “life”: Herod sought Jesus’s soul (Matt 2:20); one might save a soul or take it (Mark 3:4); death occurs when God “requires your soul” (Luke 12:20). “Soul” generally refers to the whole person, the self: “three thousand souls” were converted in (Acts 2:41) (NRSV: “persons”; see Acts 3:23). “Soul” can denote the existence of a person after death (Luke 9:25; Luke 12:4; Luke 21:19), but even then the idea does not appear to be the Greek concept of some immortal aspect of a person that survived when the body died. See also Resurrection.

Gen 46:18

18(these are the children of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Leah; and these she bore to Jacob—sixteen persons).

Gen 2:7

7then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

Ezek 32:10

10I will make many peoples appalled at you;
their kings shall shudder because of you.
When I brandish my sword before them,
they shall tremble every moment
for ... View more

Judg 5:18

18Zebulun is a people that scorned death;
Naphtali too, on the heights of the field.

1Kgs 19:4

4But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O L ... View more

1Cor 15:35-54

The Resurrection Body
35But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”36Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless i ... View more

Matt 2:20

20“Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child's life are dead.”

Mark 3:4

4Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent.

Luke 12:20

20But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’

Acts 2:41

41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Acts 3:23

23And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out of the people.’

Luke 9:25

25What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves?

Luke 12:4

Exhortation to Fearless Confession
4“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more.

Luke 21:19

19By your endurance you will gain your souls.

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