Skip to main content

Biblical versus 'Greek' anthropology

I am really enjoying the book by Gundry mentioned in the last post. One important thing his book does is to really crush the argument that 'Hebrew' or OT anthropology only knew humanity as animated bodies rather than a body/soul duality. And so what I wrote earlier on this subject definately needs some modification. So here are some thoughts about the differences between OT/NT Duality and Platonic Dualism.

  • In biblical thought both the body and soul sin, in platonic thought the body is sinful, the soul pure.
  • In biblical thought the soul survives the body but is diminished by the loss, in platonic thought the soul is liberated by the loss.
  • In biblical thought salvation is either the preservation or the reunification of the body and soul, in platonic thought it is a purely spiritual affair.
  • In biblical thought 'you' are truly your body and soul, but for the platonist 'you,' the soul, have a body.

Of course ancient Greek thought was pretty diverse and so any generalisations are by nature somewhat blunt and inaccurate.

Comments

  1. hmmm... interesting again.

    On OT anthropology, wouldn't the four-fold parallelism in the Shema (heart, soul, mind, strength) reinforce the 'integrated' view you outline here?

    On that last bullet point: I'm interested in how C.S. Lewis might respond (particularly in light of his quote: "You don't have a soul, you are a Soul. You have a body.")

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, CS Lewis is a classic example of someone who was very Platonic in his Christianity, and you can see this in a lot of his work. He came to Christ in the middle of a career as a classicist and I think you often find him making assumptions about the gospel that come from a more platonic source than a really scriptural one. But it's often quite subtle. I think CS Lewis was great in his day, but too many today build on his work uncritically, and that CS Lewis quote is a classic one for being bandied about by people who think it sounds good but haven't weiged its truth against biblical teaching. thanks Dale

    ReplyDelete
  3. Interesting - Is there a sense in which that Lewis quote can still be understood to be referring to a biblical understanding of an integrated anthropology? Using 'soul' as a kind of umbrella term for 'me' and seeing that a 'soul' has a spirit and body, etc.?

    i.e.:
    a "soul" characterised by duality between:
    spirit (mind, 'heart', 'strength')
    body (brain, blood-pumper, muscle, etc.)

    (I'm typing out loud, I suppose)

    ReplyDelete
  4. well I have no doubt that Lewis did not intend it that way. but you can if you want i suppose!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

That one time Jesus got the Bible wrong

It's so typical isn't it? You are preaching all day long, training your disciples, sparring with the Pharisees, encouraging the poor and down trodden, healing the sick and casting out demons, all day, day after day, and even when you go up a mountain to get a rest the crowds hunt you down and follow you up, and then the one time you get a bit muddled up with some of the details of a biblical text . . . that is the one they write down in the first gospel - verbatim. At least Matthew and Luke had the good sense to do some editing. But Mark, he always had his eye on giving the public the "historical Jesus" whoever that is supposed to be . . . warts and all. Thanks a lot Mark!

Some think I made the mistake on purpose, just to show the Pharisees up.

For some there is no mistake worth mentioning, only a slightly ambiguous turn of phrase.

Others think I am doing something tricky with Abiathar's name, getting him to figuratively stand in for the priesthood.

It really has…

Thor Ragnarok and Parihaka: Postcolonial Apocalypse

Thor: Ragnarok is a riot of colour, sound, violence, humour, sci-fi and fantasy. As a piece of entertainment it is the best Marvel has produced so far. As in many of Taika Waititi's films the plot often seems secondary to the humour and a number of quirky moments seemed only to serve for a quick giggle. I left the theatre overwhelmed by the sensory experience, but ultimately unimpressed by any deeper meaning.

It wasn't until the second morning after my trip to the movies that I woke to the realisation that the movie could function as a profound postcolonial metaphor (I do some of my best thinking while alseep, also it can take me a while for the penny to drop). Unfortunately a quick google showed me that I was neither the first, nor the second to have this thought.

[Spoiler Alert!]

It's easy to miss with all the other stuff going on but Thor undergoes a postcolonial awakening during the film as he slowly realises that his beloved Asgard and its dominion of the nine realms …

Dale Martin does Mark

Dale Martin is an important and frequently controversial NT scholar. Those of us who can't make it to Yale to hear him teach can access some of his lectures, in fact his entire introduction to the NT course, through the magic of the internet.

Here he is holding forth on Mark . . .