The doctrine of the Tri-Part man.

by LittleToe 65 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • LittleToe

    Recently there have been discussions about the immortal soul, v's the WTS beliefs, so I thought I'd present a little heard of (in JW circles) doctrine of the soul that seeks to explain some passages of scripture that are usually avoided.

    First of all, Leo posted some fascination information, which gives some background on the bible's general teaching on the soul:

    The doctrine itself surrounds two texts in particular, which I quote from the NWT:

    1Th 5:23 May the very God of peace sanctify YOU completely. And sound in every respect may the spirit and soul and body of YOU [brothers] be preserved in a blameless manner at the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Heb 4:12 For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and [their] marrow, and [is] able to discern thoughts and intentions of [the] heart.

    I've attached a diagram, to help, but basically it breaks down like this:
    Gen.1:24 describes animals as being living souls.
    Gen.2:7 describes man as being created differently, in that God breathed spirit (Ruach) into man.

    Hence the body contains the soul, and the soul the spirit.
    I understand that Rabbinical teaching has it that the soul consists of the mind, emotion and will, which animals also have to a greater or lesser degree, and which are usually engaged in that order, to progress thought through to action..

    When Adam sinned his spirit [died/was broken] and so he became mere flesh, an intelligent animal.
    He is [reborn / resurrected / reconnected to the divine] when the spirit enters in.
    At this point a battle ensues between flesh and spirit, and the spirit can be "quenched".

    To me, this made a little more sense of the Westminster Catechism's claim that Jesus (as spirit) took on a true body and a reasonable soul.

    There are a pile of prooftexts that I might sling into all of this, but I want to finish this in time for Dansk's prayer vigil, and then I need to get to bed.
    Hopefully some ensuing discussion will elaborate on the subject.
    Have fun

  • Carmel

    Just thought I'd through in the Baha'i perspectivel



    It has been before explained that spirit is universally divided into five categories: the vegetable spirit, the animal spirit, the human spirit, the spirit of faith, and the Holy Spirit.

    The vegetable spirit is the power of growth which is brought about in the seed through the influence of other existences.

    The animal spirit is the power of all the senses, which is realized from the composition and mingling of elements; when this composition decomposes, the power also perishes and becomes annihilated. It may be likened to this lamp: when the oil, wick, and fire are combined it is lighted, and when this combination is dissolved, that is to say, when the combined parts are separated from one another, the lamp also is extinguished.

    The human spirit which distinguishes man from the animal is the rational soul; and these two names -- the human spirit and the rational soul -- designate one thing. This spirit, which in the terminology of the philosophers is the rational soul, embraces all beings, and as far as human ability permits discovers the realities of things and becomes cognizant of their peculiarities and effects, and of the qualities and properties of beings. But the human spirit, unless assisted by the spirit of faith, does not become acquainted with the divine secrets and the heavenly realities. It is like a mirror which, although clear, polished, and brilliant, is still in need of light. Until a ray of the sun reflects upon it, it cannot discover the heavenly secrets.

    But the mind is the power of the human spirit. Spirit is the lamp; mind is the light which shines from the lamp. Spirit is the tree, and the mind is the fruit. Mind is the perfection of the spirit, and is its essential quality, as the sun's rays are the essential necessity of the sun.

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 316)

  • LittleToe

    Thanks for the reply, Carmel.
    I can't believe that in over nine hours you've been the only one to reply!

    Could you elaborate on the "spirit of faith"?

    Ostensibly it looks like "the human spirit" that you describe is the biblical soul (as definied by this doctrine) and the "spirit of faith" corresponds to "the spirit of man", when it is functional (1Cor.2:11)

  • StinkyPantz
    I can't believe that in over nine hours you've been the only one to reply!

    .. but it's been viewed 65 times!

    I read it, twice in fact. I'm just not the proper person to incite discussion, primarily because I find it hard to conceptualize.

  • LittleToe

    That's why I drew the pretty picture

    Actually, reading the bible in this context (especially the Pauline epistles) makes a radical leap in understanding in why people act the way they do.
    I'd be interested in JamesThomas and MarkfromCali's comments on this, too.

  • googlemagoogle

    i'm not sure if translation of "ruach" with "spirit" is correct (although possible). ruach is the power behind breath, wind or thunder. for example to "be out of breath (ruach)", like sheba was when seeing solomons wealth.

  • LittleToe

    Well introduced, on the language front!
    There's also the word Neshamah, meaning "breath", as found in Gen.2:7.

    • English / Greek / Hebrew
    • Body / Soma / Nidneh
    • Soul / Psuchi / Nephesh
    • Spirit / Pneuma / Ruach

    Dan.7:15 is an interesting read, in this context (KJV):

    I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

    I find it just as interesting to see that the NWT translates it:

    "As for me, Daniel, my spirit was distressed within on account of it, and the very visions of my head began to frighten me.

    Which totally obsfucate the meaning of the word Nidneh...

  • googlemagoogle

    one other connection of pneuma/spiritus as wind is the story about pentecost.

    Acts 2:2 - And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

    some recommend to use the form "holy breath" instead of "holy spirit"...

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan
    At this point a battle ensues between flesh and spirit, and the spirit can be "quenched".

    Though the Spirit may be there - not lit - you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes. With some oil (gladness) and the Word (the tongue is a fire) to light it (I came to cast fire upon the earth) - one is able to see the presence of the Spirit again - tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them - these people are like a lamp.


    God is Spirit

    before the throne burn seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God

    He has placed before you fire and water:
    stretch out your hand for whichever you wish.

    Interesting stuff - sorry to divert but I was thinking you may like to hear that bit

  • LittleToe

    Some references might be nice
    Thanks for the addition.

    Again, the power behind the wind, eh?

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