What does the WTS mean when they talk about a human soul?

by Peter123 18 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Peter123

    Maybe this has been discussed here before. (I'm relatively new and I don't read the site everyday/or week.) But, if I remember correctly, the WTS defined the human soul as being merely one's physical body. Then they took a scripture from Genesis about "the breath of life." So, everything that "breathes" is a soul, be it animal or insect. Is my understanding correct?

    And if so, where does a human fetus fit into this WT explanation?


  • MidwichCuckoo

    ''And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul'' (Genesis 2 v 7, NWT - that's the Bible GOD wrote).....the WTBTS teaches that a person IS a living soul.

  • Peter123

    So -- according to that thinking -- is a fetus a soul since it is not breathing?

    I'm not trying to argue -- just wondering.


  • daystar

    I gathered from meetings that the human was a soul rather than having a soul.

  • Peter123

    But I always thought that the "breath of life" was the defining requirement. Yes, the breathing corporal body was the soul -- and with death -- the person was no longer a soul.

    I thought I once heard at an assembly the speaker saying that aborted fetuses would NOT have a ressurection since they never drew the breath of life. Has anybody else heard that?


  • Narkissos
    Deliberately to induce abortion or miscarriage by artificial means, by the use of drugs, or by medical operation, the sole purpose of which is to avoid the birth of an unwanted child, is an act of high crime in the sight of God. Life as a precious gift from God is sacred. Hence God’s law to Moses protected the life of an unborn baby against more than criminal abortion, for if in a fracas between men a pregnant woman suffered an accident fatal to her or the child, "then you must give soul for soul." (Ex 21:22-25) Of course, before applying that penalty, the circumstances and degree of deliberateness were taken into consideration by the judges. (Compare Nu 35:22-24, 31.) But emphasizing the seriousness of any deliberate attempt to cause injury, Dr. J. Glenn comments: "The viable embryo in the uterus IS a human individual, and therefore destroying it, is a violation of the sixth commandment."—The Bible and Modern Medicine, 1963, p. 176.

    This is from a WT book (Insight, article "abortion"). Here (and elsewhere) they definitely apply the notion of "soul/life" to the unborn (or, in that case, stillborn) child. Whether this is what the text in Exodus means is another matter. It is much more likely that the event of miscarriage is meant in v. 22 (implying a fine paid to the husband) and v. 23 is about the death of the woman -- the "soul for soul" principle (= capital punishment) applying only to the latter.

  • Peter123

    Hey, Narkissos, I've read some of your other posts and I've really enjoyed them. So, I glad you responded to my question. (Someday I'll ask you about the James Joyce quote you used "darkness shining in brightness" and a Yuma Indian Curing Song that speaks of "The Spirit of Shining Darkness.")

    Maybe respondents have answered my question and I'm just too dense to see it. I'm wondering how the WTS reconciles condemning abortion (beyond stoping the "possibility" of life) since technically, according to their dogma, a fetus is not a "living soul" because it is not breathing. I vaguely recall the logic of the talk I mentioned previously, the speaker said it would be unreasonable to think that YHWH would transfer aborted fetuses to living women in the "paradise earth."

    I personally have mixed feelings about abortion. Thank you Jesus, I'm not a woman. I do believe in a woman's right to choose.



  • Hellrider

    Hm, I wonder, if featuses (in WT-doctrine) are humans, then how will Jehobah ressurect all those aborted featuses? They would have to be "ressurected" inside the womb, I guess, and then be carried full-term. What about women who`ve had many abortions? Do the featuses have to...wait turn? Marilyn Monroe supposedly had 12 abortions. She might be feeling very "full" in the "new system", I think.

    They could perhaps be "ressurected" into adults, I guess. But that would mean bringing to life people who have never lived before. And adult person who never had a childhood, but was just "born" as an adult. Lol, that would be pretty weird. No memories, because there never were any. A strange kind of amnesia...

  • Narkissos

    Thanks Peter,

    Even without relying too much on the etymology of nephesh I think you do have a point.

    In Genesis 2:7 the man had to receive God's breath of life in his nostrils to become a living nephesh.

  • moggy lover
    moggy lover

    Hi, Peter123,

    Oddly enough, I can confirm having heard something along the very same lines you mentioned, in that commrnts were made by a visiting speaker to our cong back in the mid 70s. As far as I can recall, he did say that fetuses had to be "living" souls to qualify for a resurrection, and simply being "alive'' was not enough. I remember his somewhat sepentine logic, as he argued the hair-splitting meaning of "living" and how that something that was "alive" was not necessarily "living"

    Whether the WTS still maintains this position I do not know, since their publications make no mention of this. Of all the ethical decisions individuals have to confront in a culture that is growing more and more secular, few are as complex in the application of basic principles than the matter of abortion. Unfortunately, the Bible does not confront this issue per se, except insofar as to condemn murder, which according to various debating principles may or may not apply to fetuses in a womb.

    There is one possible mention of an abortion, at Ex 21:22,23, which tells of the consequences of two men fighting near a pregnant woman. The scriptures say that should a fatality occur, the guilty party would need to die. However, the "fatality" mentioned may not be a miscarriage, [hence by implication an abortion] but the death of the woman. Most commentators feel that that seems to be the intent of the biblcal passage. The WTS refuses to recognize the inherent ambiguity of the text and implies that it categorically refers to an abortion. Reasoning pg 25

    The WTS takes advantage of the fact that the Heb "Nephesh" has a complex series of meanings and an equally complex series of applications. Indeed, it does appear in some passages to confirm the WTS idea that the "soul" IS the person, but they also either deny, or redifine, those portions of Scripture that clearly show that the "soul" is something cognitive IN a person, which leaves the body at death, [Gen 35:18] and enters on life [1Kin 17:22]

    I feel that as men, we have no right to impose our moral judgements on women who have to bear the burden of making decisions that concern the operations within their own bodies. As a commited Christian, a conviction to which I was led after realising the foolhardy theology of the WTS, I am personally against the idea, but I hope that I am mature enough to accept the opinion of women who differ.


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