I know it’s Easter today and I have a ton of Easter thoughts. However, as I was perusing the blogs tonight I found some very interesting reading.

For instance, check out Hewitt’s recent work on the Schiavo case (particularly here and here). Hewitt has taken a minority position (among “big time pundits”, at least) and is ably defending it. Althouse’s comments were fairly convincing (see here ht:Instapundit), but Hewitt has made me reconsider.

See also the letter from a Florida lawyer on the discrepancy in the lawyers for each side and how that has affected the Schiavo decisions. Hindrocket at Powerline concurs with the letter-writer that if the fact finding was done at the trial court, then it would be almost impossible for Terri’s parents to appeal on the basis of new arguments or facts–hence the “de novo” dictum from the halls of Congress.

Finally, I respect Donald Sensing’s political work a lot, but I find a lot to disagree with here, including this excerpt from the Abingdon Dictionary of Theology:

The word “soul” has a very different meaning for the biblical writers from the understanding that we usually assign to it. The Hebrew word often translated as “soul” basically means “breath,” and is often used simply to designate “a living being” (not always a human, sometimes an animal). The Hebrew word, along with its New Testament Greek equivalent, can mean “life,” and even “person” or “self.” Both the Hebrew and the Greek words used in the Bible can stand for the unity of personality, since the Jews conceived of human beings as a unity, rather than as a duality of body and soul. In fact, there is no distinctive word for “body” in Hebrew; one is not needed because there is no separate part of a human being, distinct from that person’s “soul,” that needs to be so distinguished.

In the New Testament, Paul uses “body” as a collective noun for the unity of the flesh and soul. He never makes a hard and fast distinction between the two. The biblical view of human being is we are whole persons with no part detachable. We do not have bodies, we are bodies. We are flesh-in-unity-with-soul.

Sensing should check out John Cooper’s excellent Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting, in which he argues that Jewish thought had ample room for some concept of a soul (see Ezekiel, for instance, and the “dry bones”). The categories Cooper employs for humans are “ontological dualism” with a “functional holism,” categories that sound very similar to the “soft dualism” that according to this Pauline scholar is “unavoidable.” Eschewing Platonist interpretations of the soul is fun and easy to do (everyone gets to take a swat at Plato eventually!), but discounting the interpretative and theological work of Augustine (and other Church Fathers) due to their Platonic influences should be done with greater fear and trembling (and solid exegetical work) than is often practiced. Statements like “But both Protestantism generally and Catholicism officially maintain that the death of the body releases the soul to exist independently in its eternal reward” simply mischaracterize the positions of both Protestantism and Catholicism (never mind that there isn’t really an “official” Protestant teaching on, oh, just about anything). For example, prominent Neo-Platonist Augustine (claimed by both Catholics and Calvin) clearly argues in Book XIX and XXII of City of God that a resurrection of the physical body will occur.

It’s late. I’m tired. Happy reading.

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Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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