Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Dialogue on the Condition of the Dead

My interlocutor's statements will appear in quotation marks, and they are in block quotation form. I'll indicate where my responses are.

Edgar: Gen 2:7 does not say that Adam 'became a living spirit.' The Hebrew word, as you know, is NEPHESH. It refers to a human person, an animal, or the life which an animal or human experiences.

"No, the word is 'Neshamah'. Animals have a nefesh, but they do not have a neshamah."

RESPONSE: May I suggest that you look at the verse again. Gen 2:7 does not say that Adam *became* a "Neshamah" but that he came to be a NEPHESH ("Adam chay nephesh"). Furthermore, animals are said to *be* creatures or souls. An animal, in other words, does not simply possess a NEPHESH but *is* one (Num 31:26-28). Additionally, Gen 7:22 certainly indicates that animals have NESHAMAH: "All in whose nostrils [was] the breath [NESHAMAH] of life, of all that [was] in the dry [land], died.

"The Neshamah, according to Jewish tradition, is that part of the spiritual man that transcends the nefesh (or soul - which even animals have) and the ruach (spirit - which animals don't have) and gets even closer to the essence of who a man is than even the ruach/spirit. Animals have neither a neshamah nor a ruach/spirit, but they do have a nefesh/soul."

RESPONSE: According to Scripture, animals have a NESHAMAH (Gen 7:22; Ps 150:6); RUACH (Eccl 3:19-21) and they are souls (Gen 1:21-24; Rev 16:3).

"2 Cor 5:1 says 'If the earthly tent we live in is destroyed....' 'We' here lives in a 'tent', thus, the 'tent' is not part of 'we'. It also says ...

RESPONSE: The verse does not actually say that "we" are not part of our respective tents. Nor does Gen 2:7 make such a claim. What the first book of the Pentateuch does say, however (in perfect harmony with 2 Cor 5:1), is that the body + the breath of life (NESHAMAH) together constitute the human person (i.e., "we"). The person = the soul, that is, the union of body and NESHAMAH make up the human NEPHESH. Without either element, "we" would not exist as persons.

"'when we are clothed, we will not be found naked' (2 Cor 5:3) [and] 'You clothe me in skin and flesh' (Job 10:11)"

RESPONSE: The body is [metaphorical] clothing, to be sure. That does not mean that the body is merely a temporary house for the spirit of man. Without my "clothing," I cease to be a "living soul" (NEPHESH) and become an unconscious carcass or corpse (i.e., a dead soul). Eccl 9:5 relates that the dead know nothing. Jesus affirms this teaching in Jn 11:11-14. The dead sleep the sleep of AQANATOS (Ps 13:3) until God calls them forth from Sheol. Interestingly, Paul does not say that he will become incorporeal after death. He envisions being given, though he states it in a conditional way, a new building out of heaven from God, an eternal house in the very heavens of God's presence (2 Cor 5:1-2). Similar to the teaching of Tertullian, Paul believes that the resurrected dead who see God and become like Him will possess spiritual bodies suited to their new heavenly environment (1 Jn 3:1-3).

"So our flesh is something we wear - like clothing - but our clothes are not us. Revelation also uses this language. We also find the idea that man is a spiritual being living in a fleshly body promoted in numerous ancient Jewish writings (e.g. Zohar I (on Bereshit), 20b )."

RESPONSE: Neither the flesh nor the NESHAMAH is "us." It is the unity of BASAR and NESHAMAH that constitutes the human person. Without a brain, there is no human consciousness, mind or spirit. As the psalmist writes, when man's RUACH goes out, he returns to the dust and his thoughts cease (Ps 146:3-4).

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