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Your thoughts on the soul, spirit and body


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5 minutes ago, Brahms said:

Why?  Why be fine with that?  I usually feel an urge to help people get up when I see they have fallen.  Are you fine with people trying to help you get back up to from where you have fallen?  When you see you have fallen, don't you want to get back up?

Oh, no one bothers with me anymore. Either way, I have not fallen anywhere that I can see. Like my friend, I'm happier now, which seems odd if I've "fallen" somehow.

Edited by jkwilliams
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23 hours ago, Brahms said:

All ancient Hebrews/Jewish people were not the same.  They had a wide range of beliefs, as many do now.  Abraham and Jacob ere ancient Hebrews and they knew what was right.  Many other ancient Hebrews were wrong about a lot of things.

We will know what we are whenever we know we have died.  We will then know how connected we are, or are not, to our mortal body.  We will then see that though we have died we are still living as our spirit continues to give us our life.

I suppose we could call it evolution when we go from being wrong to becoming right.  I wouldn't call it evolution when we go from right to wrong, though.

How does one go from being wrong to being right? Or from right to being wrong? For example, I have never been LDS, but have grown (evolved, changed) over sixty-five years in my doctrinal and theological beliefs. Am I simply wrong possibly becoming wronger (nice word)? Or am I right becoming righter (another nice word) in different ways? Thanks.

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39 minutes ago, Brahms said:

That has no application in the real world where everyone is biased one way or another.  There is no middle ground.  One either accepts or denies/rejects whatever one is told.

Then it's not academic, because the goal is always to either uphold or attack a faith position.  One can't say anything without either upholding/accepting or attacking/denying a faith position.  Try it sometime.  Every position you have is biased one way or another.

I'm really talking about intent. Academics isn't trying to support or attack any particular faith position. If you look at scholarship of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, you'll find a few things that are concordant with just about every faith tradition. For example, scholarship would support LDS positions like the idea that ancient Jewish people believed in  a divine council of Gods. Scholarship supports the idea that the doctrine of the trinity is not original to first century Christianity. When it does this it is not motivated by the idea that they should defend LDS beliefs, but rather they are motivated by an attempt to best explain the limited evidence that they have using critical methodology. Any time these conclusions happen to either support or contradict someone's faith position, it's really just coincidence. Scholarship has to be faith-neutral.  

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53 minutes ago, Navidad said:

Can/will you recommend good source documents on the Elephantine temple? I have read about it many times, but would like to learn more. Thanks.

I haven't read more than a quick summary, but I've seen this recommended:

https://www.academia.edu/382385/Why_the_Cult_Reforms_In_Judah_Probably_Did_Not_Happen

Also: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.2307/4149987#:~:text=The Jewish Temple at the,abandoned sometime after 400 BCE.

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17 hours ago, manol said:

This might be a little off the beaten path...

I think the root cause of “US versus THEM” thinking in all its varied manifestations is the belief in separation. The belief that we are each separate from everyone else (and separate from God) is probably taken for granted by just about everyone, because to all outward appearances we are clearly separate and there is very little evidence that we are NOT separate. But as long as I see you and me as separate, my best interest is not aligned with your best interest, which makes conflict (internal or external) inevitable if we interact for long enough. This taken-for-granted belief in separation (and competing interests) permeates just about every aspect of our lives.

I think it would take a major paradigm shift for humans to stop seeing “US versus THEM” and instead see only “US”. I think this is more likely to happen on an individual scale than on a societal scale, at least at first.

Many years ago there was a great teacher who said, “Love your neighbor AS YOURSELF” (emphasis mine). For centuries this has been taken as an injunction to be kind to others, rather than as a paradigm-shattering mega-thought. But what if these simple words are also a higher teaching which has been hidden in plain sight? What if we are to love our neighbor “AS ourself” because our neighbor really IS ourself?

Let's take a look through this lens. If your neighbor is yourself, perhaps on a different timeline, then “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” takes on vastly deeper meaning because you ARE doing it unto yourself! And that person who strikes you for no reason – IF that was you on a different timeline having a bad day, THEN it might actually make sense to “turn the other cheek”. Likewise that person who wants you to walk a mile with them, or who wants your property, or who wants to borrow from you – if that was you on a different timeline having a bad day, then it would make sense to help them out regardless of the probability of repayment. It might even make sense to forgive another “seventy times seven”, if that other was actually YOU having a bad day (well, multiple bad days).

Near-death experiencers sometimes report reliving events in their life review as if they were literally the other person. Some report an experience of transcendent oneness which is reminiscent of “I am the vine, ye are the branches.”

That being said, imo this is an idea for which the external evidence is not overwhelming. You would presumably have to try it out to see whether or not it has utility for you. I have lived with the idea that there is really only one of us for some time, and have found it to be useful in transitioning my perspective from “US versus THEM”, to the perspective of, there is only “US”.

@Navidad, I don't know whether the virtually universal belief in separation is the root cause of what you describe, nor whether this somewhat radical interpretation of “love your neighbor as yourself” is the cure, or part of it. I can only report that I have found it useful in shifting my perception of “other” people and their behavior.

My goodness, I really like this concept. I will have to think on it for a while, but I think there are great possibilities therein. Thanks for the thought-provoking reply.

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1 hour ago, Eschaton said:

I think on the contrary, exposure to different perspectives can only improve our own. 

Would you accept a hearty fundamentalist-like AMEN! to that? I have attended an LDS ward for five years now, which is the same amount of time I have spent on this forum. For having done that, I have learned much that is new for me. It was the same when I moved from a denominational seminary to a graduate school of religion. You have much to offer here . . . please stick around for a while. There is a lot of diversity on this forum. I have struggled at times here. I know that others have struggled with me being here. However, I know that a large percentage of my wounds are self-inflicted. I am trying to continue learning! Best wishes.

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1 hour ago, mfbukowski said:

therefore history is irrelevant to religion.

Oh my! I have spent much of my life studying religious history and the history of religion as conflict. Tell me it isn't true that all that has been a waste! I love your declarative statements! They used to bother me; now I read them and smile! You are a good man!

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33 minutes ago, Brahms said:

Fasting and praying a lot helps me.

Me too.

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6 minutes ago, Brahms said:

I've tried smiling when I've seen people say things that are false. It isn't easy but I can do it, although it may look like it is not a true smile.  Now I'm working on trying to cheer when I see people say things that are false. Maybe someday I'll get better at it.

You use the words "true" and "false" a lot in your posts. Would you mind defining with a bit more clarity what you use as the criteria for defining "true" and "false"?

 

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3 minutes ago, Brahms said:

Oh please.  While apostasy, by definition, refers to "the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief," the way we generally use the word refers to a "falling away" from good while embracing evil.  A downhill fall, not an uphill climb.

Don't you get it? From the viewpoint of Christian critics, Joseph was a con man at best and a satanic agent at worst. Christ was a blasphemer and an insurrectionist. To extend the metaphor a bit further, Socrates was an atheist. If we want to move a little closer to home, we could start digging out some of the things that were said about William S. Godbe. The association with abandoning orthodox belief and embracing evil is part in parcel with apostasy and/or heresy and always has been.

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1 hour ago, jkwilliams said:

I've sort of embraced the term apostate, as I got tired of people using it as an insult, as if following my conscience was a bad thing. I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who received a phone call from a relative after quite a few years of not having contact. This person apparently thought that it was a good idea to try and harangue my friend back into the church. My friend said, "John, I've been out of the church for almost 15 years, and this is the first time I've actually felt genuinely grateful to be out. My [relative] has always been an angry and bitter person, and still is, and I'm happier than I have ever been. So, I'm grateful I don't have that stuff in my life." So, yes, my friend and I wear the apostate label happily (in the literal sense of that word). 

I don't exactly embrace the term; I'll wear it if someone uses it though. Fortuntately, I had no real social connections to the Church especially after I was divorced, so I've had no problems with anyone trying to harangue me back into the Church.

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7 minutes ago, Brahms said:

Yes I get that is their viewpoint, but they are wrong.  He was none of those things.  Joseph was a (true) prophet of God, not an apostate of Christ or the (true) Christian religion.  The fact that they think he was an apostate doesn't mean he was one.
Do you get that?

...

8 minutes ago, Brahms said:

More the latter than the former.  In the former the issue isn't so much about what is "orthodox" but about abandoning what is right and true and good.  

Of course I get that. But remember, however unorthodox I am, I do regard Joseph as a true prophet of God.

It seems to me that you are missing the point. "Orthodox" itself means correct (or to use the dexter supremicist term, "right") thinking. So to abandon correct thinking automatically means embracing what is wrong and false and evil.

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2 hours ago, Navidad said:

Can/will you recommend good source documents on the Elephantine temple? I have read about it many times, but would like to learn more. Thanks.

I would recommend the following on the Elephantine temple:

Peter Shafer Judeophobia Attitudes towards the Jews in the Ancient World  He has a good chapter explaining the documents which lead many scholars to conclude that the Egyptians destroyed the Jewish temple because of their Passover sacrifice of a lamb  (the sacred animal of Khnum is the ram).

Joseph Modrezejewski The Jews of Egypt From Ramses II to Emperor Hadrian has a chapter on the Jews of Elephantine.

Edward Bleiberg Jewish Life in ancient Egypt A family Archive from the Nile Valley (I haven't read this one, but Ed told me that he questioned the interpretation of the Passover sacrifice as the reason the Egyptians destroyed the Jewish temple; I don't know if he deals with that in this volume or not)

Bezazel Porten, Archives from Elephantine (an older work, anything more recent by Porten about Elephantine is worthwhile; he's one of the major scholars to have worked with the material; I believe he's also published some volumes of translations of the Elephantine Aramaic material)

Bob Becking Identity in Persian Egypt The Fate of the Yehudite Community of Elephantine ( recent work I haven't seen)

I hope this helps.

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1 hour ago, Brahms said:

Interpreting evidence is never faith-neutral.  Faith stems from hope that something is true, while not being able to see beforehand if it is true.  I have faith there will be a tomorrow, while not being able to see beforehand if there will be. I also have faith that  Adam and Eve were taught the gospel, while not being able to see beforehand those moments when they were taught it.  You have faith in some things, too.  Any evidence we interpret is going to either support or deny our faith positions.  Scholarship will never be faith-neutral.  You may try to make it so, and you may really want it to be, but it never will be.  Any evidence you interpret for any reason is always going to either support or deny any faith you have.  Prove me wrong if you can.

This seems to be informed more by a pre-existing bias against scholarship rather than any real experience with the material. I say this as a lay interested reader and not a scholar. 

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3 minutes ago, Brahms said:

An Unbiased Query:  Was Joseph Smith a prophet of God? 

This is not an unbiased query. It's actually a very loaded question, no matter which way one goes about answering it. First, it assumes there are such things as prophets, and if so, there is one all-encompassing definition of what a prophet is. It also assumes there is a God, and not only that, that there is a certain kind of God who acts in certain ways (i.e., via prophets). What you assume (or don't assume, as the case may be) about terms like "prophet" or "God" is going to determine how you're going to go about answering the question and what the answer is going to be.

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6 hours ago, Eschaton said:

Some of them did believe in the "shades" of the dead, which is not quite the same concept as our modern "spirit".  Typically shades are lacking in thought and feeling, but they can be temporarily roused by magical means. 

 

This is actually a prime annihilationist passage - Jesus talks about both the soul and body being destroyed. But by soul, what does he mean? Does he mean the breath of life - meaning that the body couldn't be raised from the dead? Ehrman would say yes. 

 

Evil spirts aren't human spirits - they were thought of as, for lack of a better term, supernatural entities. 

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.  It is interesting insight.

In regards to Matt 10:28, I think this can be interpreted both ways...and it is.  I have a hard time accepting that anyone can say definitively that Jesus was an annihilationist.  I understand that Ehrman firmly believes that, but there are many, many other scholars who disagree including the following list from Wikipedia:

John H. Gerstner
John Piper
J. I. Packer
James R. White
David Pawson
Wayne Grudem
R. C. Sproul
Albert Mohler
Tim Keller
William Lane Craig
Millard Erickson
Francis Chan
Franklin Graham
Rick Warren
John F. MacArthur
Mark Driscoll
C. J. Mahaney
Heidi Baker
Reinhard Bonnke

Here is the text of the verse:

Quote

28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Annihilationists seem to be focusing on the second part of the verse which describes the soul and body being "destroyed", but when you consider the first part of the verse, it seems to suggest that the soul can live beyond the body.  If the soul of an individual is nothing more than the breath - then that doesn't seem to make any sense that it can survive beyond the life of the body.   The fact that the verse suggests that the soul can either survive or be destroyed beyond the life of the body seems to point to something other than breath.   "Apolesai", the word used for "destroy" can be used literally or figuratively.  If taken figuratively, I think the passage makes much more sense.  It becomes a game of what you want to take figuratively and literally.  If we were to take all things literally, than we must accept that the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth are literal - well, breath doesn't have teeth, and death and destruction cannot produce an environment of eternal gnashing of teeth. 

Death and destruction are often used figuratively in the bible, especially when in reference to the spirit.  Spiritual death , for example, is not a literal death of the spirit (especially if one interprets it as the breath of life).  The scriptures suggest that we die when we sin and that we are made alive again through repentance (Ephesians 2: 1-3; Colossians 2:13).  Just as spiritual death is not literal, neither should we assume that spiritual destruction - a synonym for death - should be taken literally.  

I tend to side with those non-annhiliationist scholars on this one.   
 

 

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1 hour ago, Brahms said:

Scholarship, to my understanding, involves a lot of reading, studying and research.  The conclusions drawn from all of that reading, studying and research aren't necessarily true, or correct, but someone else can usually see reasons for why someone arrives at the conclusions one reaches by similarly reading, studying and researching the same or similar material.  One being defined as a a scholar doesn't necessarily make that one person correct in their thinking processes or conclusions.  Scholars often disagree with each other, so if you ever want to know what is true and right, pray to God and ask him to tell you.  And don't be surprised if some other scholars believe you are wrong. 

I think this statement helps to illustrate the communication barrier that seems to be present here. Have a good evening. 

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16 minutes ago, pogi said:

Thanks for sharing your knowledge.  It is interesting insight.

In regards to Matt 10:28, I think this can be interpreted both ways...and it is.  I have a hard time accepting that anyone can say definitively that Jesus was an annihilationist.  I understand that Ehrman firmly believes that, but there are many, many other scholars who disagree including the following list from Wikipedia:

John H. Gerstner
John Piper
J. I. Packer
James R. White
David Pawson
Wayne Grudem
R. C. Sproul
Albert Mohler
Tim Keller
William Lane Craig
Millard Erickson
Francis Chan
Franklin Graham
Rick Warren
John F. MacArthur
Mark Driscoll
C. J. Mahaney
Heidi Baker
Reinhard Bonnke

Here is the text of the verse:

 

I won't comb through your entire list, but I recognize two names at least that aren't critical scholars of the Bible - James White and WL Craig. They are evangelical apologists and they bypass the usual rigor and instead lead with their pre-existing faith commitments. 

I'll offer you an alternative, however - David Sim is a critical Biblical scholar who sees Matthew at least as passing on the tradition of torment in the afterlife inherited from the book of Enoch. He doesn't say if this was the view of Jesus himself, however, just that it is the view of the author of Matthew. 

I do find Ehrman's argument persuasive in that there isn't any single clear reference from the historical Jesus (that is, quotations of Jesus that are reasonably likely to go back to Jesus himself) that indicates the existence of eternal conscious torment. Suffering, yes, but not eternal suffering, and it's not clear at all that such suffering won't be limited to life in the body. But I certainly think it's possible Jesus might have taken the same view as Matthew. 

 

16 minutes ago, pogi said:

Annihilationists seem to be focusing on the second part of the verse which describes the soul and body being "destroyed", but when you consider the first part of the verse, it seems to suggest that the soul can live beyond the body. 

Wouldn't you be reading that into the text? In traditional Judaism the "soul" (breath) would exit the body upon death and return to God. But it was just breath, not an incorporeal version of the self - at least it was originally. 

 

16 minutes ago, pogi said:

 

If the soul of an individual is nothing more than the breath - then that doesn't seem to make any sense that it can survive beyond the life of the body.   The fact that the verse suggests that the soul can either survive or be destroyed beyond the life of the body seems to point to something other than breath.   "Apolesai", the word used for "destroy" can be used literally or figuratively.  If taken figuratively, I think the passage makes much more sense.  It becomes a game of what you want to take figuratively and literally. 

If you think of it as "life force" then yes it could survive the death of the body. For example, if you gave blood, and then were killed in an accident, the life-giving fluid in your veins would not have been destroyed. But it's also not "you" in any real sense. 

 

16 minutes ago, pogi said:

If we were to take all things literally, than we must accept that the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth are literal - well, breath doesn't have teeth, and death and destruction cannot produce an environment of eternal gnashing of teeth. 

The idea is that the wicked would be made to suffer, bodily, before being slain and their bodies dumped in Gehenna (a real valley outside of Jerusalem, usually mistranslated as "hell")

 

 

16 minutes ago, pogi said:

Death and destruction are often used figuratively in the bible, especially when in reference to the spirit.  Spiritual death , for example, is not a literal death of the spirit (especially if one interprets it as the breath of life).  The scriptures suggest that we die when we sin and that we are made alive again through repentance (Ephesians 2: 1-3; Colossians 2:13).  Just as spiritual death is not literal, neither should we assume that spiritual destruction - a synonym for death - should be taken literally.  

I tend to side with those non-annhiliationist scholars on this one.   
 

 

Yes, this is the later orthodox Christian interpretation, influenced by the increasingly gentile makeup of the church. :)

I don't think there's any doubt, btw, that Paul was an annihilationist - that's very clear. The wages of sin is death. 

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2 hours ago, Brahms said:

Scholarship, to my understanding, involves a lot of reading, studying and research.  The conclusions drawn from all of that reading, studying and research aren't necessarily true, or correct, but someone else can usually see reasons for why someone arrives at the conclusions one reaches by similarly reading, studying and researching the same or similar material.  One being defined as a a scholar doesn't necessarily make that one person correct in their thinking processes or conclusions.  Scholars often disagree with each other, so if you ever want to know what is true and right, pray to God and ask him to tell you.  And don't be surprised if some other scholars believe you are wrong. 

So much for "by study and by faith"....

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2 hours ago, Brahms said:

If you feel a need to start with more basic questions, then feel free to do so.  One need not assume there are such things as prophets.  One can ask God if there are such things as prophets and what a prophet is, if one doesn't already know that.

Try this one, directed to God:  God will you tell me if Joseph Smith ever spoke with inspiration from you?

If that one isn't basic enough for you, try this one:  God are you my Father in heaven?

 

Been there, done that. In fact, it illustrates my point. As long as I was asking whether the Book of Mormon were true, the answer was, "Figure it out." When I asked whether the Book of Mormon were True, that's when I got my confirmation. I said something about that here. Mind you, even asking the correct question involved shifting paradigms.

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3 minutes ago, Brahms said:

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me.

But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right.

But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong...

Faith from God is an assurance from God which assures us when we have the right idea. 

Well, we're not in fundamental disagreement there. Let's see if I can find a way to help you understand where I'm coming from. Would you ask God for confirmation on the question of 2+2=4?

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On 10/12/2022 at 4:45 PM, Eschaton said:

Wouldn't you be reading that into the text? In traditional Judaism the "soul" (breath) would exit the body upon death and return to God. But it was just breath, not an incorporeal version of the self - at least it was originally. 

This passage sounds like every soul was perceived as an individual entity that was worthy of being saved or "destroyed".  It is implied that it itself is alive, and is an individual entity culpable of being killed for sin.  That means that the soul itself was worthy in some way of living or culpable of dying.  The very fact that it could be killed suggests that it was viewed by Jesus as an independent and individual living entity - else what is being "destroyed" God's breath?  Why?  What could God's breath be guilty of?  No, the soul belonged to the individual, and was a living entity distinct from the body.  

Paul suggests the same in the following passages where the soul is identified as the sentient being who is only clothed with a tabernacle of clay.  The soul is the "we" that "knows" and possess a the house of our earthly body.  He also expresses the idea that we can live independent of the body with God.  That "we" (not some vague life force) can be present with the Lord without a body, and willingly so.  2 Corinthians 5:

Quote

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:

3if so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.

4For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.

5Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

6Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7(for we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

Interestingly he also speaks of living in an "eternal" house in "heaven" with God, not an earthly kingdom of God, but a "heaven". 

On 10/12/2022 at 4:45 PM, Eschaton said:

If you think of it as "life force" then yes it could survive the death of the body. For example, if you gave blood, and then were killed in an accident, the life-giving fluid in your veins would not have been destroyed. But it's also not "you" in any real sense. 

Except Paul suggests that we are the life force.  Surely, he learned this from Jesus.  The body is merely "clothing" or "house" for the soul.  It is worthy of eternal life and culpable of judgement.  That doesn't make any sense if it is just like blood or some other life giving entity that is not "you" in any real sense. 

On 10/12/2022 at 4:45 PM, Eschaton said:

Yes, this is the later orthodox Christian interpretation, influenced by the increasingly gentile makeup of the church. :)

I don't think there's any doubt, btw, that Paul was an annihilationist - that's very clear. The wages of sin is death. 

I think I have given good reason to doubt that Paul was an annihilationist.

As mentioned previously, the spiritual death he spoke of was figurative or else the following versus don't make any sense:

Quote

Colossians 2:13 — New Living Translation (NLT)
13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.

So...these people didn't literally die.  Clearly this is figurative of spiritual death more akin to what LDS teach.

More:

Quote

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2.

Again, it all boils down to what you take literally and what you take figuratively.  

While I respect the work of scholars, they don't always all agree.  We are left with interpretations of words, one should never be free of doubt as to what the ancients actually believed and meant when they spoke.  We can't know for certain what was literal and what was figurative.  We are making our best guess is all.  

Edited by pogi
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23 hours ago, Eschaton said:

Wouldn't you be reading that into the text? In traditional Judaism the "soul" (breath) would exit the body upon death and return to God. But it was just breath, not an incorporeal version of the self - at least it was originally. 

You are mixing science- " It was just breath" with the poetic religious thinking of ancient Hebrews.

That doesn't work. It's mixing metaphors 

 

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22 hours ago, tagriffy said:

Mind you, even asking the correct question involved shifting paradigms.

God was the first postmodern.

He confounded words at Babel. ;)

Seriously, I think that was one way of presenting postmodernism to a pre-literate people.

It Goes with the idea that everything was created by "the Word".

Edited by mfbukowski
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40 minutes ago, mfbukowski said:

God was the first postmodern.

He confounded words at Babel. ;)

Seriously, I think that was one way of presenting postmodernism to a pre-literate people.

It Goes with the idea that everything was created by "the Word".

This offers some interesting implications for pre-verbal people (who use "words" of other kinds) and chemical, pre-, non-, and a-linguistic (etc.) life forms.

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