Jump to content

Question About Soul And Spirit

R. S. Martin

Recommended Posts

Somewhere on these forums recently I saw a question about soul and spirit and whether they are the same or different things. I found something on the matter written by Charles Hodge about 1870. It's online here for anyone who's interested. It's from church history and I would guess it agrees with the understanding of present-day mainstream scholars but I can't vouche for it.


Be warned that it contains some Greek terms. In case you're interested, here you can find a New Testament Greek Alphabet (along with a batch of other crap but the alphabet looks okay). I don't know much more NT Greek than the alphabet, and anglicized words like pneuma, Logos, and gnosis. And I think I get some meaning from the passage. So I don't think you need to know Greek to understand it.


Here is an excellent site if you're serious about learning NT Greek, or Hebrew for Old Testament.


Sorry, that's off-topic. Topic was supposed to be about the question of soul and spirit and whether they are the same or whether they are different things. Seems the Christian church has not always thought the same and that at one point it made an arbitrary decision to end controversy. Hodge writes about it at the link above.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Someone who can, delete this please.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In modern religions I would say the soul and spirit are basically the same thing. Some might have some nuanced differences between the two items but they'll still be basically the same.


In ancient Egyptian religion they were different (but not called "soul" and "spirit") but "ka" and "ba" (and other things...they had a complicated belief system we don't totally understand and we don't have a one to one relation for their concepts but many people just equate them anyway so simplify things). A "ka" was sort of a "double" of a person that existed in the afterlife but it didn't have a personality really and the "ba" was the "soul" or the person's essence that would go onto the afterlife. These two items would unite to form that person in the afterlife (other things like their shadow come into play here as well so consider this to be a real simple explanation from memory).


As you can see it is a little strange to think of a "soulless" double but you might think of it as a "spirit" body waiting for the "soul" to be placed into it (not an entirely accurate description but as I said we have to approximate). The thing is that the ka and ba didn't stay together and had to go do other things (go to the tomb and whatnot) and then re-unite so it wasn't a permanent union (but relied on the sun's daily cycle). One could get "lost" during this time and all sorts of things which would cause the ultimate and final true death of that person if all their "parts" couldn't get unite or divide for their daily tasks.


Anyway, as I see it today, a "spirit" and a "soul" are both "spirits." The one we call our "soul" is basically our human essence and it is required for life. No "soul" means the body is just a shell. The "soul" is the person. Since it is a "spirit" it can do whatever a "spirit" can do (supernatural things...however that is defined...obviously possess bodies even though our "spirit" only knows how to possess just the one). The other "spirit" known by the same name is usually an outside entity (normally or maybe preferably from "god") that can "possess" a body for whatever reason (usually only by invitation but it seems that doesn't have to be the case). It can exist in a person for any length of time and also seems to leave when that body is dead (it doesn't seem to give the body it's "life" as much as the "soul" does though). Sometimes the outside "spirit" can infuse the person with supernatural powers it seems (the internal "soul" looks like it used to be able to do the same but that ability wore off for some reason...maybe the "spirit" revoked that ability?).



Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.