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Message Subject Reincarnation in the Bible
Poster Handle Anonymous Coward
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Is the Soul Immortal?

To answer this question, let us turn to the highest authority on the subject—the inspired Word of the Creator. In the very first book of the Bible, Genesis, we learn the accurate meaning of “soul.” Regarding the creation of the first man, Adam, the Bible says: “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 2:7) Clearly, the soul is not what a man has but what he is. The Hebrew word used here for soul is nephesh. It occurs some 700 times in the Bible, and it never refers to a separate and ethereal part of a human but always to something tangible and physical.—Job 6:7; Psalm 35:13; 107:9; 119:28.

What happens to the soul at death? Consider what happened to Adam at his death. When he sinned, God told him: “You [will] return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:19) Think of what that means. Before God created him from the dust, Adam did not exist. After his death, Adam returned to the same state of nonexistence.

Simply stated, the Bible teaches that death is the opposite of life. At Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10, we read: “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten. All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going.”

This means that the dead are unable to do or feel anything. They no longer have any thoughts, nor do they remember anything. The psalmist states: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs. His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”—Psalm 146:3, 4.

The Bible clearly shows that at death the soul does not move on to another body, but it dies. “The soul that is sinning—it itself will die,” the Bible emphatically states. (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Acts 3:23; Revelation 16:3) Thus, the doctrine of the immortality of the soul—the very foundation of the theory of reincarnation—does not find any support in the Scriptures. Without it, the theory collapses. What, then, explains the suffering we see in the world?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 32892972

First of all, I agree 100% with the conclusion that there is no such thing as an eternal metaphysical 'soul' which is the foundation of the metaphysical doctrine of 're-incarnation'.

But neither is there any metaphysical 'soul' which can go on to be punished in any metaphysical 'hell' or rewarded in any metaphysical 'heaven'.

The Doctrine of "resurrection" as a Doctrine of 'Rebirth' answers both of these objections:

There is no such thing as an eternal metaphysical 'soul'; but, at the same time, people are 'raised from the dead' to be rewarded or punished in this world for what they have done in their previous lives.

 Quoting: 4Q529

Many Scholars Agree

Many scholars agree that the Bible does not speak of an immortal soul. The Concise Jewish Encyclopedia states: “The Bible does not state a doctrine of the immortality of the soul, nor does this clearly emerge in early rabbinical literature.” The Jewish Encyclopedia says: “The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture.” The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible notes: “The nephesh . . . does not continue to exist independently of the body, but dies with it. . . . No biblical text authorizes the statement that the ‘soul’ is separated from the body at the moment of death.”

Also, the Expository Dictionary of Bible Words says: “‘Soul’ in the O[ld] T[estament], then, does not indicate some immaterial part of human beings that continues after death. [Nephesh] essentially means life as it is uniquely experienced by personal beings. . . . The basic meaning of [psykhe] is established by its O[ld] T[estament] counterpart, rather than its meaning in Greek culture.” And The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary states that in the Bible, the word soul “does not designate a part of a human being, but rather the whole person. . . . In this sense human beings do not have souls—they are souls.”—Italics ours.

Even the New Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges: “The Biblical words for soul usually mean total person.” It adds: “There is no dichotomy [division] of body and soul in the O[ld] T[estament]. . . . The term [nephesh], though translated by our word soul, never means soul as distinct from the body or the individual person. . . . The term [psykhe] is the N[ew] T[estament] word corresponding with [nephesh]. . . . The notion of the soul surviving after death is not readily discernible in the Bible.” And Georges Auzou, French Catholic Professor of Sacred Scripture, writes in his book La Parole de Dieu (The Word of God): “The concept of ‘soul,’ meaning a purely spiritual, immaterial reality, separate from the ‘body,’ . . . does not exist in the Bible.”

Thus, The Encyclopedia Americana observes: “The Old Testament concept of man is that of a unity, not a union of soul and body. Although the Hebrew word [nephesh] is frequently translated as ‘soul,’ it would be inaccurate to read into it a Greek meaning. . . . [Nephesh] is never conceived of as operating separately from the body. In the New Testament the Greek word [psykhe] is often translated as ‘soul’ but again should not be readily understood to have the meaning the word had for the Greek philosophers. . . . The Bible does not provide a clear description of how a person survives after death.” It adds: “Theologians have had to resort to the discussions of philosophers for an adequate means of describing survival of the individual after death.”
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