The doctrine of the Tri-Part man.

by LittleToe 65 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • googlemagoogle

    the power behind our breath... wouldn't that be "life" as such?
    is spirit an equivalent to life?

  • lawrence


    I know we have words over the years, but I totally agree with your post. Having wrestled with the Greek and Hebrew over many years, as well as many of the Church Fathers writings, it is now easier for me to understand and harmonize, as you have presented it in an eloquently simplistic manner i.e. the diagram.

    peace and blessings,


  • LittleToe

    I think it's inherent in a body to have life. As far as the doctrine goes:

    • Plants have bodies
    • Animals have bodies and souls
    • Humans have bodies, souls and spirits

    Interestingly enough, this view doesn't preclude evolution, with the "spirit" just being another intervention by a creator (if your mind works on it that way).

  • LittleToe

    We've had words? Do you mean fall-outs?
    Forgive me, but I honestly don't recall.

    I enjoy your posts, and am not one to "take account of injury", regardless of how robust some discussions get.
    A case in point is google and myself, who were having a rather frank and robust discussion just yesterday

    I'm afraid I can't take credit for the diagram. I first saw it at the retreat I attended last week. The one hour lecture was on the subject of the Tri-part man, which I have believed for about three years (I first noticed the 1Thess.5 scripture just prior to leaving the JW's, as a xref from Heb.4), and discussed for the last year or so with theological acquaintences. The diagram just encapsulated it nicely, even expressing how a spirit-filled believer can filter right guidance through his soul and act in a manner contrary to what the new nature would deem correct.

  • A Paduan
    A Paduan
    Paduan: Some references might be nice

    Do you mean biblical ones for the italicised text ?

    google:Again, the power behind the wind, eh?

    That's interesting - I'd like to think about that one.

  • googlemagoogle

    dead bodies don't have life. the creation story is about a dead body that get's "ruach", wich makes him breathe and live. then again, when ruach is the power behind the blow, nephesh (the soul) can be the breath, it actually can be anything between creature and life.

    i'm not sure if plants should be considered in this context. there's just too much of a difference between flora and fauna.

  • lawrence


    Are there any electronic materials from the seminar that can be posted or transmitted? In reference to another post about partaking, I once as a JW partook too, but now I believe that every believer should.... But that's another thread.


  • Carmel

    LT, here's what I could find in a two minute search.



    Now as to what thou askest concerning the spirit and its "return" to this world of humanity and this elemental space: Know that spirit in general is divided into five sorts -- the vegetable spirit, the animal spirit, the human spirit, the spirit of faith, and the divine spirit of sanctity.

    The vegetable spirit is the virtue augmentative, or growing or vegetative faculty, which results from the admixture of the simple elements, with the cooperation of water, air and heat.

    The animal spirit is the virtue perceptive resulting from the admixture and absorption of the vital elements generated in the heart, which apprehend sense-impressions.

    The human spirit consists of the rational, or logical, reasoning faculty, which apprehends general ideas and things intelligible and perceptible.

    Now these "spirits" are not reckoned as Spirit in the terminology of the Scriptures and the usage of the people of the Truth, inasmuch as the laws governing them are as the laws which govern all phenomenal being in respect to generation, corruption, production, change and reversion, as is clearly indicated in the Gospel where it says: "Let the dead bury their dead;" "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit"; inasmuch as he who would bury these dead was alive with the vegetative, animal and rational human soul, yet did Christ -- to whom be glory! -- declare such dead and devoid of life, in that 371 this person was devoid of the spirit of faith, which is of the Kingdom of God.

    In brief, for these three spirits there is no restitution or "return," but they are subordinate to reversions and production and corruption.

    But the spirit of faith which is of the Kingdom consists of the all-comprehending grace and the perfect attainment and the power of sanctity and the divine effulgence from the Sun of Truth on luminous light-seeking essences from the presence of the divine Unity. And by this Spirit is the life of the spirit of man, when it is fortified thereby, as Christ saith: "That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit." And this Spirit hath both restitution and return, inasmuch as it consists of the Light of God and the unconditioned grace. So, having regard to this state and station, Christ announced that John the Baptist was Elias, who was to come before Christ. And the likeness of this station is as that of lamps kindled: for these in respect to their glasses and oil-holders, are different, but in respect to their light, One, and in respect to their illumination, One; nay, each one is identical with the other, without imputation of plurality, or diversity or multiplicity or separateness. This is the Truth and beyond the Truth there is only error.

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 370)

  • Leolaia

    There is a great discussion of the meaning of the Greek terms in the TDNT. I've always been meaning to read it through carefully to capture all the nuance, but I would recommend you to take a look at it. I think, if I recall, that Paul and several other writers use psukhe with a Semitic sense (w/ mortal-earthly-physical connotations, cf. "soulical" in 1 Corinthians 2:14, 15:44-46, James 3:15, Jude 19) that contrasts with pneuma, while the dualistic philosophical Greek usage has been to contrast psukhe with soma or sarx (and so in gnostic writings and in certain Jewish writings). Paul does have this contrast between "flesh" and "spirit" (and conceives of "spirit" that dwells in flesh and which can leave flesh), but does not use psukhe in this sense to my knowledge. Cf. tho the parallelism between pneuma and psukhe in Philippians 1:27, and the parallelism between "weak" and "little souled" (oligopsukhos) in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. There is also dipsukhos "double-souled" in James which clearly uses psukhos in the sense of "mind" or "heart" (as in the original Hebrew idiom). The separation between psukhe and pneuma in Hebrews 4:12 also is very interesting (and fits with the common association of psukhe with the flesh), but then there are also Stoic concepts which appear to be latent in phusis in James 3:7, 2 Peter 1:4, "sharers of divine nature" (theias phuseós)," logos in James 1:18, 21 (emphuton logon "implanted reason"), 2 Peter 2:12 (aloga "without reason"), so instead of pneuma one could refer to having a divine logos or theias phuseós which contrasts with animals and immoral people who lack "self-control" (engkrateia, another Stoic buzzword; 2 Peter 1:6) and thus are aloga "without logos" or without "implanted reason".

    The picture is quite complex and messy and I think I would need to read through the TDNT to sort it all out.

  • Narkissos


    IMO you can't derive a consistent anthropology from the Bible anymore than a consistent theology.

    There was a lot of discussion among evangelicals about this when I studied theology. As far as I remember the Arminian students mostly sided with the Tri-part (or "trichotomist") view, whereas the Calvinist professors held the most classical Two-part (or "dichotomist") view. It was fun to watch.

    Back to the Bible. The "spirit" in Genesis 2:7 is neshamah (nishmath chaim for "spirit of life"), not ruach (as in your first post).

    What is obviously lacking in the Hebrew Bible is a word/concept for "body". Nidneh is not in the Hebrew Bible, as far as I remember it is rabbinical term formed on the Biblical hapax legomenon (1 Chronicles 21:27) nadan = "sheath". A very dualistic, Greeklike concept when you think of it.

    The closest to it in the Bible is basar, usually translated by "flesh". There is a couple of other words generally meaning a "corpse" (gewyah, guph) and occasionally a living body. But they are very rare. I find it interesting that the Greek concept of body (sôma), as distinct from flesh (sarx), does not really exist in the OT.

    The basic OT pattern (from Psalm 104 based on the Egyptian Hymn to Aton to the proto-Sadducean Qoheleth, or Ecclesiastes), is that of the ruach animating all basar, human and animal alike.

    Now the big problem is the NT psukhè (or psukhikos) as opposed to pneuma (or pneumatikos). In one word I think this is typical (proto-)Gnostic thought, based on a radical conflict between the natural state of man in creation and his spiritual state in redemption. From this point of view the Evangelical theory of a "Tri-Part man", making the spirit dimension a part of the nature of created man, is willfully ignoring the essence of Gnostic thought.

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