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Is this question on topic? If so, what are some appropriate tags?


The phrasing of this question on Christianity.SE has me thinking.

According to the Bible, is man spirit and flesh, or does man have a spirit and a body of flesh?

Consider these verses from the OT:

Genesis 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?

And these from the NT:

1 Corinthians 15:45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living soul.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

Corinthians 1:23 But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth.

Are these differences significant? Are the notions of being a soul and having a soul conflated in the Bible?

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  • I'm going to say your question being revised to ask the meaning of the text is a perfect fit for BHSE. If you are examining various theological viewpoints, then your question is about theology and not about understanding the text, consequently it is "Off-Topic". If your question is about understanding the text, then challenging various theological viewpoints as they relate to the text, then it is entirely "On-Topic" and part of the reason why we're here. "Understanding the Text" is the critical piece, our theology/worldviews are formed from that. – Tau Jul 6 '15 at 13:48
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I concur with the existing answer that this question would be "off-topic" as posed.

I also think there are at least two "on-topic" questions lurking in it, and to let them out it would mean:

  • (much!) tighter focus; and
  • restricting the "corpus".

Essentially the question as it stands is about a the "doctrine of man" [sic] or "biblical anthropology" (in this technical sense), perhaps the sort of thing Nancey Murphy, Bodies and Souls, or Spirited Bodies? (Cambridge University Press, 2006) is interested in.

One attempt to get at this from the perspective of (Christian) biblical theology is provided by Brevard Childs, Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments: Theological Reflection on the Christian Bible (Fortress, 1993), ch. VII, "Humanity Old and New".

My suggestion would be to isolate texts from the Old Testament and New Testament, and ask discrete questions about the meaning of those individual texts -- after checking out whether they have been asked about before, of course! There are, for example, two questions already (at least) about Genesis 2:7

In this way you could patiently build up the biblical resources from which you could then develop the more synthetic sort of account that Hermeneutics.SE itself will not provide.

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It's off topic in my view because it essentially "starts from an idea" rather than "starts from a text".

Basically, it's clear from the post the you are interested in the question "is man spirit and flesh, or does man have a spirit and a body of flesh?" and are on a quest to find whether this is consistent with scripture, rather than having arrived at the question while looking at the text.

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  • Thank you. I'm more interested in how the reading of those linguistic notions in the Bible evolved independent of or in conjunction with extra-biblical philosophies, and whether or not these notions are distinct or conflated in the reading or if they are significantly expressed in the diction. – Andrew Jun 6 '15 at 7:08
  • So some kind of 'history of interpretation'? I can see that might possibly be on-topic if it focused on a single verse, but not if it focuses on the ideas. – Jack Douglas Jun 6 '15 at 7:57

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