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Table of Contents


Chapter  1

Part I
Chapter  2
Chapter  3
Chapter  4
Chapter  5
Chapter  6
Chapter  7
Chapter  8
Chapter  9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12

Part II
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17

Chapter 18


Part I: Embodiment — and The Incarnation

Chapter 7

The Constitution of Man:
Where One + One = One

A Human Spirit + A Human Body = A Human Being

     It has often been observed that the Hebrew people were intensely religious by inclination but never felt any need to structure their faith or systematize it as a theology. Of commentaries they wrote many, and the Talmud grew apace year by year. But despite its great volume of traditional law, it contained little that could qualify as theology in the Gentile sense. Strict adherence to logical systematization of their beliefs did not seem to interest them, though they did systematize their practices.
     This still seems to be essentially true. A recent edition of The Standard Jewish Encyclopedia which runs to very nearly 2000 pages, under the heading Theology simply says: See God, Judaism, etc. The entries under God and Judaism bear little resemblance to our theologies, being more history than anything. And what the et cetera means is hard to say, since obviously one cannot find it anywhere in the Encyclopedia!
     Although in the Gentile world we have, since the earliest days of Christianity, continually produced and refined Creeds, Definitions, and Statements of Faith, we have not

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founded the substance of these formulations on the Old Testament but on the New, especially upon Paul's Epistles. The fact is that Hebrew disinterest in such formulations is reflected in their Scriptures.
     And it should be borne in mind that these Old Testament Scriptures strictly include part of the New Testament, namely, the Gospels. Because, until Calvary, the statutes and ordinances and rituals, and the Abrahamic promises to Israel which relate to earthly matters, were all still in force.
     The consequence of this is that when we try to construct a biblical theology (or psychology?) of the constitution of man, we find little precision in the Old Testament or in the Gospel records. Precision belongs chiefly to Paul.
     One can appeal to passages in the Old Testament that often strongly support a New Testament theology, but they are also sometimes contradicted by other passages in the Old Testament and are thus of only slender evidential value. This brief chapter is therefore essentially a New Testament construct, but it is both revealing and satisfying in its simplicity. And as will be noted later by reference to Barton Payne's writings, there is a comfortable agreement between the Old and the New Testaments in this biblical anthropology even though it could not have been constructed on an Old Testament basis alone.

     There has always been a debate as to whether man is composed of two distinct components — a body which is physical and a spirit or soul which is not — or whether man is composed of three distinct components as seems clearly to be implied in 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The first formulation is referred to as a
dichotomy and the second as a trichotomy.
     Sometimes the three component advocates (trichotomists) feel they have support also from Hebrews 4:12. However, if one wants to insist on a strict literalism in this passage, one could argue for four components, made up of

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soul, spirit, joints, and marrow: which would, I suppose, be a quadrichotomy. Interestingly, some versions reduce this quadrichotomy not merely to a trichotomy by counting joints and marrow as one element, but to a dichotomy by taking soul/spirit as one component or simply what is non-physical, and joints/marrow as the equivalent of flesh and bone or simply what is physical. They thus argue that the writer is saying that the Holy Spirit is able to set the spirit against the body.
     The situation is complicated by the fact that in addressing a Jewish audience (as the Epistle to the Hebrews does), the Lord Himself used a number of terms, each of which might be taken as a separate component of man's constitution: strength, spirit, soul, heart, and mind (see. Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:30). This could, I suppose, be called a quinquichotomy!
     Really, we are left with only one passage clearly contending for a trichotomy (1 Thessalonians 5:23), the rest of the New Testament strongly suggesting that man is simply a dichotomy of body and spirit. And for purposes of ordinary discussion, few will challenge the convenience of being able to view man as an embodied spirit, a created spirit in a procreated body. When the God-given spirit is infused into the body, the soul emerges. As the simplest of all equations, spirit + body = soul, for the soul is the person, the whole man, the self. For you it is "your self," for me it is "my self," body and spirit.

     Let us look, then, at some of the evidence that the New Testament (especially the epistles of Paul) almost always speaks of the non-physical component of man as spirit not soul, in spite of popular opinion to the contrary. Whenever we find a clear reference to man as a dichotomy, it is always as a dichotomy of body and spirit, not a dichotomy of body and soul.
     James 2:26 tells us that the body is dead without the spirit. No hint of departure of the soul is present in this

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simple observation. Jesus in his 'departing' commended not his soul but his spirit into the Father's care (Luke 23:46), as did also Stephen (Acts 7:59).
     Accordingly when resuscitation takes place, it is not the soul but the spirit that rejoins the body (Luke 8:55 and Revelation 11:11). And this is also true in Ezekiel 37:5, 8—10 where the word for spirit in Hebrew is here, however, rendered 'breath' in the King James Version, although there is a perfectly good word in Hebrew for what we mean by breath namely, neshamah — a word which was not used in the original though it could have been had this been the intention of the Author.
     It is significant that John 3:6 speaks of the rebirth of the spirit, not the soul. And in 1 Corinthians 5:5 we are told of the saving of the spirit rather than of the saving of the soul. In Ecclesiastes 12:7 it is the spirit not the soul that is given to the new-born, after being presumably pre-formed by God (Zechariah12:1). And it is the spirit not the soul that is surrendered by Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:5,10); it is the spirit not the soul that is willing though the body is weak (Matthew 26:41); that is finally to be made perfect (Hebrews 12:23); and that cannot be retained by man when the time comes to surrender it back to God (Ecclesiastes 8:8).
     In all these important passages, and often contrary to the way they are quoted, it is the spirit and not the soul that is spoken of. We speak easily of the saving of the soul. And while this is perfectly justified, as will be seen later, it is not strictly biblical. Passages where spirit is used instead of soul can be multiplied greatly by careful attention to the wording of Scripture. Thus it is both body and spirit that need cleansing (2 Corinthians 7:1). Mystically, the Church is one body and one spirit (Ephesians 4:4). And we are called upon to glorify God in our spirit and our body (1 Corinthians 6:20).

     What, then, of the soul? Where does it enter the picture? Surely, the soul is the end result of the fusion of

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body and spirit, an entity, a reality, generated by the fusion of two elements — just as salt is generated from sodium and chlorine gas, or as the colour green is generated by the fusion of yellow and blue. When the two components are separated by death, one component returns to the earth and the other to heaven into God's keeping, until reunion of the two at the raising of the body brings about the reconstitution of the person. The soul is the result of a union, an entity which comprehends the whole man.
     Such a view can be supported both from the Old and the New Testaments. J. Barton Payne has written a most useful volume entitled The Theology of the Older Testament. In his chapter on "The Nature of Man," he proposes that in the Old Testament we have the following progressive equation:

DUST + BREATH = FLESH (as the living organism)
and FLESH + SPIRIT = SOUL (Heb. nephesh, i.e., the person)

     The simplicity of this arrangement commends itself highly since it seems to meet many of the apparently conflicting relevant passages in the Old Testament, and virtually all of the New. Passages not satisfied are usually poetry or analogy or an accommodation to common parlance. Basically it presents us with a physical body and a non-physical spirit which together constitute the soul, the person.
     We can compare with this a recent equally satisfying study of the biblical view of human constitution by Robert H. Gundry titled Soma in Biblical Theology. This makes an excellent companion volume on the New Testament evidence to that by Barton Payne on the Old.
     Gundry concludes, on the basis of the New Testament, that man is a body plus spirit entity which, when fused, becomes a soul. Notice that we are talking about fusion, not mere addition. Soul is something which neither body nor spirit alone can ever be. Man thus can be said to have a body and to have a
spirit: but he does not have a soul. Man IS a soul.

66. Payne, Barton J., The Theology of the Older Testament, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1962, p.225

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      Without the spirit the body is like a car without a driver: without the body the spirit is like a driver without a car. A brief quotation from Gundry nicely indicates his overall position: (67)

The biblical touchstone for truly human life is not consciousness of the spirit, let alone the material being of a physical object such as the body. Rather, man is fully himself only in the unity of his body and spirit in order that the body may be animated and the spirit may express itself in obedience to God.
Both parts of the human constitution share in the dignity of the divine image. That dignity lies in man's service to God as a representative caretaker over the material creation. For such a task man needs a physical medium of action as much as an incorporeal source for the conscious willing of action.
Neither spirit nor body gains precedence over the other. Each gains in union with the other: each loses in separation from the other.

     We seem therefore to be nearest to the truth when we formulate the simplest equation possible:


     This does not really make man a duality, except for purposes of analysis and discussion. Man does not exist as a person when body and spirit are separated, and therefore it is only in a manner of speaking that we can talk about the body as half the man and the spirit as the other half, since there is no such thing as half a man. When separated, the body at once ceases to be a body and becomes merely a purposeless conglomerate of chemicals: and the spirit appears to lose all contact with physical reality and all

67.Gundry, Robert H., Soma in Biblical Theology, Cambridge University Press, 1978, p.160.

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means of expression. Consciousness is almost certainly lost.
     Only the resurrection of the body and its re-fusion with the spirit can reconstitute the whole man, the person, the soul. A SOUL is therefore a monad, that is, an absolute singular reality, by nature indivisible. It comes into being as an entirely "new thing" as a consequence of the fusion of two elements. It is thus apparent that we can re-state the equation above in a new form:


     Spelled out, such an equation means that "one and one makes one," not TWO: and the secret of the resolution of such an odd equation then lies in the meaning of the little word "and." What do we mean by and? In this case, not merely plus but "fused with," "made one with" in the most literal sense.
     We are by no means without scriptural analogies for this form of equation. The most obvious one is to be found in Genesis 2:24. When God brought Eve to Adam (the Father bringing the bride to the groom!), He said, "They shall be one flesh." One plus one equals one.
     We find the analogy again in the unification of the Body and its members (i.e., the Church) and the Head (which is Christ) becoming a single functioning organic unity. "For as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ . . . you are the body of Christ . . . and He is the head of the body" (1 Corinthians 12:12 and 27, and Colossians 1:18). Likewise, Jew and Gentile are so joined as to "make of the two one new man" (Ephesians 2:15).a
      Thus though it takes two partners to MAKE the "marriage," it is not the partners who ARE the marriage. The marriage which is thus generated by the partners becomes a reality all of its own. As yellow and blue MAKE green, neither the yellow or the blue by themselves ARE green. Side by

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side they remain yellow and blue: fused they become green.
     In an analogous way, the body and the spirit do indeed MAKE the soul, but it is the soul that is made, which in this analogy is the MARRIAGE, not one of the partners. It exists in its own right, just as the resulting soul exists in its own right.
     An evil spirit may take over a human body, or even a dead one — as Satan tried to do with the body of Moses (Jude 9). But this does not generate another human soul, nor would it have done so if Satan had succeeded. In the latter instance, it would have generated only a monster. What constitutes a human
soul is the unification of a human body with a human spirit.
     In terms of his constitution, man is a body and a spirit: in terms of his soul, man is "simple and indivisible" as the theologians have it. The soul of man cannot be divided and survive as a soul. If the two components are separated, which is the only division that can be made, the soul no longer exists. What God planned was not just the components of man by which He created him in two stages, first the body and then the spirit. When the spirit was infused into the body which had been prepared to receive it, then man "became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7). The living soul is what God created "in his own image."
     The union of the spirit and the body is a "marriage by appointment" since each spirit is created specifically for each body, and it was never God's intention that this union should be dissolved in death. Although through sin it will be dissolved, reunion will occur when the resurrected body is joined by the spirit.  It is not our "hope of glory" to be merely a redeemed ghost but to be a redeemed soul.
     Even this is not a sufficient statement, because it suggests a spirit consciously in search of its body. I believe there is no such thing as a conscious spirit without a body. It needs the body's brain to have consciousness of the real world and even of itself. Moreover, I am confident that, for

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the Christian, there is no lapse into unconsciousness when we pass into the presence of the Lord, for our spirit is instantly rejoined to its resurrected body. In short, death becomes our resurrection.
     The soul, therefore, is in the strictest sense indivisible, for the only division that can be made results in the dissolution of the soul. Meanwhile the spirit that has departed from the body passes directly into God's keeping until the body is resurrected to form its proper home.
     Between the departure of the spirit and the resurrection of the new body, however, there is no experienced lapse of time because there is no "time" to lapse. Thus we are never, at any stage in the life of the world to come, reduced to the status of a mere ghost. We pass into the presence of the Lord clothed, not naked
(2 Corinthians 5:4), and to be rid of this body is to be clothed in a new body suited to a royal reception.
     I have spelled this out very carefully and fully in my book Journey Out of Time, a book which sheds a new light on a number of passages of Scripture that bear directly upon the circumstances in which this journey into eternity will be made. The Lord's promise that the believer will not "taste" of death (John 8:52) will be literally and wonderfully fulfilled. There will be no experienced loss of consciousness when this journey is made.

     So what we really have is this. A human being is by definition a human spirit fused with a human body, not a mere combination of spirit and body but a fusion in the most absolute sense.
     In view of this equation, it is therefore quite proper to speak of the saving of the soul, i.e., the whole person — because with every assurance of the rebirth of the spirit and every assurance of the redemption of the body, we do indeed have, effectively, every assurance of the saving of the soul. This is not the saving of half the man, but the saving of the whole.

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     The evolutionary view of the origin of the soul has to be, in the final analysis, a kind of spin-off or epiphenomenon that emerges directly from the material of the body and will last only as long as the body lasts. It is a philosophy which holds out no transcendental value for the human spirit so long as its own interpretive canons are faithfully applied to the evidence it admits. The Christian evolutionist appears to me either inconsistent in his theology as a Christian, or inconsistent in his philosophy as a Scientist.


A Footnote to this Chapter

The reader who prefers to view man's spiritual nature as composed of more than one element (heart and mind, or soul and spirit, or mind and will) need not feel offended. The only point that I feel is quite crucial to my thesis is that man is not man at all without his body. His spirit is, in fact, not more important to his future life hereafter than his body is.
  Man is a dichotomy in the sense that he is composed of a non-physical part of his being which is his spirit and a physical part of his being which is his body, and he cannot be whole without the total fusion of the two. The resurrection of his body is every whit as important to his future identity as the preservation of his spirit. Together they constitute the survival of his person.


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Copyright © 1988 Evelyn White. All rights reserved

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