Where are the Dead –
According to the Bible?
FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE – Mister Cunning, Paul in First Corinthians chapter 15 describes the “soul” (psuche) or the “soul-like” (psuchicon) of Genesis 2:7 as. Paul teaches in his treatise on resurrection that there are two body types: the SOUL-LIKE (PSUCHICON) and the SPIRIT-LIKE (PNEUMATICON)
THE SOUL-LIKE BODY (soma) – is characterized by seven attributes:
1. CORRUPTIBLE – the soul-body decays at death in the grave; Greek = phthora = corruption; variously rendered: BER: decomposition; NASB: perishable; GDSP: it decays; AMP: perishable and decays
2. WEAK – the soul-body lacks any power of its own to continue living; Greek = astheneia = powerlessness; variously rendered: KJV: weakness; BAS: feeble; AMP: infirmity and weakness
3. DISHONORABLE – because of its corruptible state soul-body becomes something dishonorable in the grave; Greek = atimia = dishonor; variously rendered: GDSD: humiliation; BAS: shame; TCNT: disfigured; NJB: contemptible
4. PHYSICAL BODY – Or, natural; that is, soul-like – the soul-body is not spiritual or celestial; Greek = soma psuchicon = body soul-like; variously rendered: KIT: soulical; KJV: natural; GDS: physical; MON: animal; TAY: human; BW: soulical
4. MORTAL – the soul-body is given to death rather than being immortal; Greek = thneton = mortal; variously rendered: WMS: capable of dying; TCNT: dying body
6. EARTHLY – the soul-body is in no wise spiritual or celestial, but terrestrial only; Greek = ges choikos = earth dusty; variously rendered: KJV: earth, earthy; MOF: material; CON: clay; BECK: of the soil of the ground; BW: from the ground
7. FLESH AND BLOOD – the soul-body, the psuchicon, is not immaterial, but is composed of flesh and blood.
Seven synonyms describe the “soul-like body” – the PSUCHE – and these are the opposite of the Platonic Soul which is immaterial. For more details on Paul’s discussion of the resurrection please see WHERE ARE THE DEAD? at http://www.nazarene-friends.org/
MISTER CUNNING – First off, the Bible does teach the immaterial nature of man, as I have demonstrated, in which I also noted that you looked over in your rebuttal.
The Jews, as well as the early Christians did teach such, and the reference to Plato as teaching that of the "soul" as understood by the Jewish and Christian faith is completely untrue.
FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE – This makes it clear, Mister Cunning, that you believe the “soul” is the “immaterial nature of man” and was taught and believed by the Jews and Christians – which I would understand to mean, not those perverted by Egyptian, Persian and Greek influence, but those under the Grace of God, such as Jesus and Paul.
MISTER CUNNING – It would be accurate to state that Plato taught re-incarnation (the perfection of oneself through having many lives) through the immaterial entity which inhabits everyone. This immaterial entity is unique in one person from another, for it is only in mere quantity of this entity does it abide in a person.
In the dialogue entitled Meno, an uneducated boy is brought in, and in response to Socrates' questions shows himself capable of doing geo-metrical theorems. Where did the boy get this knowledge? The answer lies in Plato's doctrine of "Recollection". The boy already had it, for it was in his quantity of the soul that inhabited him. The boy just needed to be reminded of it by being asked the right questions.
From this, Socrates concludes that "if the truth about reality is always in our soul, the soul must be immortal, and one must take courage and try to discover – that is, to recollect – what one doesn't happen to know, or more correctly remember, at the moment.
In the dialogue entitled Phaedo, Plato gives an account of Socrates' beliefs of the immortality of the soul, which explains why Socrates did not fear death. The entity within each man is not perishable, for when man dies the entity retires to a higher plane of existence if it has been perfected, and if not to return again in a new body to begin the cycle all over again till it reaches it's perfection (hence the young boy and "Recollection"). The out right wickedness of a "soul" whom was fused with the personal, but yet did not seek to do good (seek perfection), is cast into the torments of Tartarus.
The tenth and final book of the Republic closes with an even more elaborate account of the fate of the soul at death. Socrates tells the story of Er, a soldier killed in battle who returned to life and told of what he had seen. His tale appears to draw on the Pythagorean doctrine of the transmigration of this entity, called the soul, and the imagery of Orphism, the Greek mystic religion of purification and reincarnation.
FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE – Mister Cunning, in your review of pagan Platonic belief regarding the soul you used several phrases: “the soul that inhabited him,” “the soul must be immortal,” “immortality of the soul,” “the fate of the soul at death.” Is it possible for you, Mister Cunning, to demonstrate these same phrases any where in the Bible? Indeed, can you posit a single instance of the word “soul” (nephesh, psuche) used in the same breath with the word “immortality” (athanasia)?
MISTER CUNNING – These "souls" are successively reincarnated in the bodies of humans and animals, and even birds until they are purified, or have been shown to be purely wicked and then tormented eternally in Tartarus. The fact that a human being, whom has been cast upon the stage world as that of a mere puppet in the greater scheme of reality known as the "Form", can only recall so much, is because the soul before coming back to existence in another life human, has drank from the river of Forgetfulness. The foolish souls drink more than their measure. But all fall asleep and are wafted away to be born again another day into a new human being.
FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE – Mister Cunning, can you demonstrate the phrase “tormented eternally in Tartarus” in the Christian Bible?
Regarding Tartarus, consider:
Peter refers to the Flood in both of his letters, evidently alluding to Genesis 6:1 and the account about the spirit “sons of God” who came to earth and took beautiful women as their wives. These “spirits” escaped the Flood only to be condemned to a condition Peter calls Tartarus. (1 Peter 3:19, 20; 2 Peter 2:4) It is the godless, pagan philosopher Plato who writes that Tartarus is that place in Hades where the wicked are cast and terribly tortured. (DNTT Vol 3, page 260) However, The Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Vol 2, page 682) gives what must be Peter’s understanding: “…the imprisonment in Tartarus of the rebel angels until the last judgment.” Job 41:24 (also 40.20 LXX) uses tartaron metaphorically with regard to the “behemoth.” One Bible commentary notes the use of Tartarus in the Homer: “In Homer's Iliad this mythological Tartarus is represented as an underground prison 'as far below Hades as earth is below heaven.' In it were imprisoned the lesser gods, Cronus and the other Titan spirits.” (Insight, Vol 2, page 1068) Peter and Homer agree in that Tartarus is a metamorphical condition for rebellious spirits or gods.
So, Peter does not write that human souls went into Tartarus. What happened to those millions who were “swept away” in the Flood? Peter says, ‘…that world was destroyed by a watery cataclysm.’ (2 Peter 3:6) He does not describe these hapless “souls” as still living elsewhere. It was only the “eight souls” who “were saved through the water.” (1 Peter 3:20)
The disciple Jude also refers to the Flood and the outcome for those “sons of God” (Genesis 6:1) who rebelled: ‘And, the angels who did not keep their own position, but left their proper dwelling, [The God] has kept in eternal chains in deepest darkness for the judgment of the great Day.’ (Jude 6 RSV)
MISTER CUNNING – So, in conclusion then of Plato, it appears that once again through faulty understanding of his beliefs expressed in his writings, Mr. Miller, you looked for a comparison to link the connection to the orthodox belief of man having an immaterial nature at the "time" of his creation (in which at the moment of death, he departs from the flesh and then is sent to the varying compartments of hades to await damnation or that of glorification, which in both cases he will be re-united with the same flesh in which he was created with), to that of implying that Plato's teaching of the soul (which was created before that of man, in whom is used only a costume for the soul to seek it's purification, for the flesh is seen as corruptible and viewed in contempt) is one and the same, hence those that believe in the "immaterial nature" are of the platonic understanding.
FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE – Mister Cunning, may we assume you will later prove the above was a belief system shared by Jesus and Paul?
MISTER CUNNING – Now, let me turn my attention to the statement that Jews did not believe in the "immaterial nature" of man.
During the time of Christ, the Pharisees were the popular sect (John 7:48). They (as you are no doubt aware) were extremely accurate and minute in all matters pertaining to the Law of Moses (Matthew 9:14; 23:15 etc.) Paul, when brought before the council of Jerusalem, professed himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6-8; 26:4-5), and in-so-much stating that he was a Pharisee, he also professed his belief in the "immaterial nature of man" (cf. Acts 23:9) being joined once again in the rising of the same body of flesh in which one died in (Acts 23:6), for the Pharisees believed such, were as the Sadducees did not (Luke 20:27), nor did they believe in the existence of angels, and spirits "immaterial nature of man" for that matter none either.
FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE – Mister Cunning, you cite Acts 23:9 as indication of “the immaterial nature of man.” However, upon reading the text we can find no such confirmation. Neither does verse 6 confirm the soul’s “being joined once again in the rising of the same body of flesh.” You seem to believe that the word “spirit” (not, “spirits) is a reference to “the immaterial nature of man” but you do not prove this premise.
Regarding what Biblical Jews believed regarding the soul, consider The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume 3, pages 680ff, “(a) nepes denotes that which makes a body, whether of man or beat, into a living being. … That ‘soul’ can be equivalent in meaning to ‘I myself’ or ‘yourself’ (1 Sam. 18:1). In Gen. 2:7, psyche means ‘person’ or ‘being’. … In striking contrast to the OT, Philo [Jewish philosopher] takes it for granted that there are bodiless souls. … Hellenistic influences are also clearly discernible generally in Judaism.”
Consider what scholarly commentaries have to say.
Encyclopędia Britannica (1970): "From the 5th century B.C. onward, the Jews were in close contact with the Persians and the Greeks, both of whom had well-developed ideas of the hereafter… By the time of Christ, the Jews had acquired a belief that wicked souls would be punished after death in Gehenna."
The Oxford Companion to the Bible, page 15-17 – “The exact relationship between the body of a dead person and the spirit that lived on in Sheol is unclear, since the Bible does not discuss this issue. … Virtually no discussion of what existence in Sheol was thought to be like is preserved in pre-exilic literature. … They present Sheol in negative terms, as a place of darkness and gloom, where the dead exist without thought, strength, or even consciousness. (Psalm 88:3-12; Isaiah 38:18-19; Job 10:21-22; Ecclesiastes 9:10) … At death all contact with the world, or even with God, comes to an end. … Following Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, Jewish thought concerning death and afterlife underwent a major change, owing to the widespread influence of the Platonic idea of the immortality of the soul.”
MISTER CUNNING – When Paul proclaimed the very fact that the Christ was resurrected (His immaterial nature, was re-united with His flesh), the Pharisees' proclaimed that there was no disagreement, for they said: "We find no evil in this man: but if a spirit or an angel hath spoken to him, let us not fight against God."
FRIENDS OF THE NAZARENE – Mister Cunning, you assert when Christ was resurrected his “immaterial nature” was re-united with His flesh.” However, you give no proof for this statement. It is interesting to us, that on this subject you do not here quote Jesus or Paul for proof of such a concept. You do not seek the evidence of First Corinthians chapter 15 regarding this.
However, The Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Volume 3, page 684, after consider Paul, concludes, “In this way Paul counters the objection against the absurdity of thinking of the resurrection as the resuscitation of our corpses.”
Nazarene Commentary 2000©
Mark Heber Miller
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