Thread Bible Podcast with Chuck Quinley

Thread Season 4 Episode 7: Birth of the Nephesh!

March 03, 2020 Thread with Dr. Chuck Quinley Season 4 Episode 7
Thread Bible Podcast with Chuck Quinley
Thread Season 4 Episode 7: Birth of the Nephesh!
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Thread Bible Podcast with Chuck Quinley
Thread Season 4 Episode 7: Birth of the Nephesh!
Mar 03, 2020 Season 4 Episode 7
Thread with Dr. Chuck Quinley

Is this episode of Thread we witness the creation of fish, reptiles, and birds and we'll learn the answer to the age-old question, "Do animals have souls?" 

This question connects to another, larger one:  "Does God intend our life to be primarily conceived of as a "spiritual" life with its true allegiance to an unseen part of us, our souls, with the goal of going to an otherworldly place called, Heaven? Or does he intend our life to be primarily a physical life, firmly connected to Earth and all of its inhabitants? 

Is the ultimate destination of our lives as believers clouds and skies, or a recreated, and very physical earth?  All these questions start with day 6 of the Creation Overture. Join us for this fascinating study.

Music by Ryan Andersen
Ryan Andersen is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=RL4F28KKJPKWQ)

Show Notes Transcript

Is this episode of Thread we witness the creation of fish, reptiles, and birds and we'll learn the answer to the age-old question, "Do animals have souls?" 

This question connects to another, larger one:  "Does God intend our life to be primarily conceived of as a "spiritual" life with its true allegiance to an unseen part of us, our souls, with the goal of going to an otherworldly place called, Heaven? Or does he intend our life to be primarily a physical life, firmly connected to Earth and all of its inhabitants? 

Is the ultimate destination of our lives as believers clouds and skies, or a recreated, and very physical earth?  All these questions start with day 6 of the Creation Overture. Join us for this fascinating study.

Music by Ryan Andersen
Ryan Andersen is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=RL4F28KKJPKWQ)

Hi, I'm Chuck Quinley from the Thread Bible Podcast. Last week in Genesis 1, we witnessed the creation of the luminaries. In this episode, we see the creation of fish, reptiles, and birds. And we'll learn the answer to the age old question: Do animals have souls? Stay tuned.

Welcome to Thread, God's word tying together all the pieces of our lives through verse by verse study of the Bible. In Season Four, we're exploring the bedrock of the entire Bible, Genesis 1-12. The Thread Bible Podcast is brought to you by MediaLightAsia.com. And I would love to tell you again, about MediaLight summer media missions boot camp. If you're going to live a life of impact today in the digital age, you need to find your voice. And MediaLight has developed a two week workshop to help you do just that. So come spend two weeks with us in northern Thailand. We'll have worship every morning, and you'll have professionals to help you discover your natural speaking voice. And then we'll teach you how to produce professional quality video using the camera you know best: your cell phone. But we're gonna follow the rules of photography, and the apps and the gear used by filmmakers like Oscar-winning Steven Soderbergh, so you can get your message across. And we believe in working hard and playing hard, so we'll still take time out to hike to jungle waterfalls and navigate a river on one of Thailand's famous longtail boats. You can even feed elephants by hand in a nearby village as we enjoy one of the world's most beautiful countries, Thailand. All this is in July, and you can find out more by visiting MediaLightAsia.com/summer. MediaLightAsia.com/summer.

Well, this week, I watched an award-winning Korean movie, named in English, "Parasite" with Ben and Jessica, my daughter. And our version of the video had a computerized translation of the Korean subtitles. And that just added a whole other layer of entertainment. It was chaos at times where we could figure out what they were trying to say. And at other places, it was hilarious. And often it was culturally insightful. Because they were trying to translate, like, word-for-word, the Korean. And then we watched the movie a second time with a human made translation. That was very clear. But it wasn't as colorful with all the Korean idioms now modified into American ones. So it was clear and it was nice and smooth, but there was a little something missing. You know, translation from one language code into another is always a tricky thing. And I thought that you might be interested in hearing a literal English interlinear translation of the Hebrew behind our passage today. And today we're on day five of creation, Genesis 1:20-23. And here is the exact interlinear translation, word-for-word, in the place of the word. And I read:

"And he is saying (Elohim), 'They shall roam the waters. Roamer of soul living, and flyer, he shall fly over the earth on faces of atmosphere of the heavens.' And he is creating, Elohim, the monsters, the great ones, and every soul. The living, the moving, which they roam, the waters. The species of them, and every flyer wing, the species of him. And he is seeing, Elohim, that it is good. And he is blessing them, Elohim, to say 'Fruitful you and increase you, and fill you the waters in seas. And the flyer, he shall increase in the earth.' And he is becoming evening and he is becoming morning, day fifth." So you can see English reads very differently from Hebrew. I mean this way of translating sounds like Yoda talking. When you translate from one language directly to another literally, with word order, you know, you have to have a deep understanding of the word code of each language. So that you can give the dynamic equivalent meaning in translation, even if you have to add a few words. Because, you know, English has "to be", and a lot of languages do not have a "to be" verb. And anyway, many of you speak multiple languages. So you already know what I mean. But sometimes, a misunderstanding over a single word in the Bible can lead to a misunderstanding about a major point of doctrine. And I think we have such a case in today's Thread, and the word in question is the word "soul". So let's unpack that in this episode. Stay tuned.

On day five, God creates an entirely new category of life. Now, just as the system that we found for classifying plant life, on day three, was practical and farm related -- not the linnaean system that we use -- so the classification system for animals is different from the modern ones. It is behavioral. So today, we're going to see the creation of water swarmers, and sky fliers, and ocean darters, because of the way fish, they suddenly move all together. And monsters of the sea. But what's most special to see today is that on day five, a new category of life is born. And that category is called the "nephesh". Now, for our study, I'm going to use a book I highly recommend, entitled "Genesis 1-12: A New Old Translation for Readers, Scholars and Translators." And this is a translation of just Genesis 1-12, by Samuel Bray and John Hobbins. You can buy it on Amazon, they have a theory that I think is valid. And it's why I like to use them as a resource. And that theory is, you know, Genesis is, depending on how you see it, it's either 4500 years old, or it's 2400 years old. But what we -- the last thing we need to do is to modernize the language and the message, or we're gonna miss all their code words, because they are -- this book is carefully crafted, and it needs to be followed. So what we need is an old mindset, so that we can understand their words and the way they think, and the way they see things, because they have a message for us and we're going to miss that message. Like, sometimes what will happen is, a translator will get a thesaurus and say, you know, well, he keeps using the same word. I'm going to use a different similar word but different. Well hold on! He's using the same word intentionally. And, you know, it might not read as smoothly to the modern ear, but there's a message in that, you know. How you say a thing is very often part of the thing you're saying. So anyway, I think they have an excellent translation and their notes... Anyway, if you're really interested in serious study of the Bible, but anybody could read this book. It's not a, you know, just a seminary level book. But anyhow, Bray and Hobbins, A New Old Translation of Genesis 1-12. So I'm going to read our passage today, verses 20-23. And I'll read their translation of it. Genesis 1:20-23. "And God said, 'Let the water swarm with a swarm of animate living things, and flying things, let them fly upon the earth, upon the face of the firmament of the heavens.' And God created the great whales and all animal living things that dart about, with which the waters swarm, after their kinds. And all winged flying things after they're kind. And God saw that it was good. And God bless them saying, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the waters of the seas. And the flying things, let them multiply on the earth.' And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day."

Okay, so this passage opens up verse 20, "let the water swarm with a swarm of animate living things." And life breaks out, and aquatic animals, small, with small bodies, and some with huge bodies, begin to scale. Sort of like a volcano erupting in the ocean, only it's a volcano of fish. And think, the numbers just began to exponentially, not add, but multiply. But the key phrase -- and it's in that very first verse -- and we want to focus on this, "animate living things". Those three words are an attempt to translate a single Hebrew word "nephesh". Now this is the word usually translated in many English translations, "soul". And it has come to be connected with an invisible presence that most Bibles think, is only in a human. But everything about that idea is a little bit messed up. And in this episode, we're going to try and iron things out more clearly. On day five, we encountered this word "nephesh" for the very first time. "Nephesh" describes a new level of life form on Earth. Let the waters swarm with "nephesh". That's what the verse, that's how the verse reads in verse 20. Now, the root word for "nephesh" is throat. Because through our throat, we eat, and more importantly, we breathe. And we take this idea of the throat, and of breathing, of living, and we began to abstract it over time, and we get other ideas connected to it. So the root word is throat, the concept that's working on it is to breathe, to be alive. And now we start to abstract it. And we say, this is the experience of life, lived through a body. And then we take that concept, and we go a little further. And we start using this word now to describe the activity of our mind, while we experience life through a body, because that's so much a part of our experience. And we continue to, you know, abstract it, and we use this word. And now we mean the emotions we feel, while we experience life through our body. And finally, to the will that we have inside by which we make decisions regarding our actions in our body.

So you can see all these different concepts start to use the word "nephesh". But the root idea of "nephesh" is about a physical experience of life. It's not about the floating spirit that lives on after death. So "nephesh" is a life form that is, first of all, physical. Secondly, it has a body made from the materials that are found in our Earth. Thirdly, it is animated by something called life. "Nephesh" are living. They are -- the best translation I've heard is: embodied lives. They are life embodied. And so, you know, God, he makes a bunch of these "nephesh" in the sea and the sky and the deep oceans. He makes water swarmers, and if you've ever seen fish by the thousands, you know, in a school trying to get away from a bigger predator fish, and how the water just, you know, erupts. It's the behavior of the fish. So they're the water swarmers and then there are the sky fliers, and birds for the first time start flying by. And then the great, Hebrew word is the "tannin". And that is, it's another one of those -- sort of like story wars. Because the "tannin" were, in Babylonian culture, that chaos spirits. They were the anti-order. They were the disorder gods. And so now here again, the writer is making a point to say that "tannin" are not gods at all. They are physical creatures. They are the handiwork of the Great God. And he made them, he has conquered them. And they are his, and he finds them beautiful. And they come from him.

"Nephesh". So, "nephesh", a physical experience of life. So do dogs have a" nephesh"? Well, the answer is, dogs are. They don't have one, they are. Dogs are an embodied life. And so are cats, and mice, and eagles, and cows, and everything that experiences life through a body. Well, you could say, Okay, second question, does this word apply to humans? Yes, absolutely, yes. Genesis chapter 2, verse 7 says "God breathed into the man he had created, and the human became...", the English translations will say, "a living soul." And we think that that's something special. But if you look at it in the Hebrew, that word has been used for, for like, it's all through chapter 1. Well, the second half of chapter 1 starting with verse 20, this word is constantly used. It's the exact same word, and man became a "nephesh", man became an embodied form of life.

And, well, there's another one. Chapter 2, verse 19, says, you know, that God was creating all these creatures -- land animals -- and he would bring them to Adam. And this is what the Hebrews says in verse 19. "And whatever the man called every 'nephesh', that was its name." We're all embodied lives. We're all called in Hebrew "nephesh". And as long -- Well, I should qualify that we are called "nephesh" as long as we're alive. And when life leaves our body, we're called by other words, and we can get into that another time. But the concept of "nephesh" -- Okay, why all the fuss about it? Well, because this word we've come to translate as soul, and this modern Greek concept of something like a ghost, or invisible spirit inside of us, it's causing us to miss most of the point of calling our life in a body "nephesh". Let's, do a real quick circle about this concept one more time. We'll do a concordance study this time. And I want to do this because I want to demonstrate for you what you can do if you find a word and it keeps popping up and you go, Ooh, that's interesting. You can go to a website, like blueletterbible.com, and you can do what's called a concordance study. And that just means you want to see every time that word is used in the whole Bible. Well, it turns out "nephesh" is use 753 times in the Old Testament alone. It's only going to be in the Old Testament, because it's a Hebrew word, New Testament uses Greek language.

So let's just look at maybe four or five of the references of how "nephesh" is used in the Old Testament. First of all, you got Genesis 9 that says Noah's ark was built to save all the "nephesh". It's the "nephesh". It's the animals that live in it, and it's Noah, and it's his family. All of them are the "nephesh". And then in Genesis 12:13, Abraham says to Sarah, who had some kind of amazing beauty secret because she is old. But she was so beautiful that Abraham was afraid that every new country he entered into he would have to deal with a king who had power, and they were just a family, that he'd be killed, and they would want her and they would kill him and take her. So in Genesis 12:13, he asked Sarah to do a favor for him. And he says, "do me a favor, to save my 'nephesh'". Not to save my invisible soul, that, I can't see any way, that might fly away. No. My physical experience of life in this body, "do me a favor, save my 'nephesh'". In Genesis 19 verse 17, the angels come down to deal with the wickedness in Sodom, and they are going to bring that city under judgment. But Abraham's nephew lives there and Abraham has asked God to spare those who are not like the others in Soddom. And so the angels come to Lot. And they say to him escape Soddom for your "nephesh". Don't look back, escape Sodom for your "nephesh". If you want to experience life in your body, get out of Sodom. Now. So let's jump ahead. Psalm 35:4. David is being chased. He's got people trying to kill him. And David says, "Let them..." (he's praying to God), "Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my 'nephesh'". These verses describe the experience of life that is known by those who are breathing, they are living in a body, all the Earth's 'nephesh' experience this world through their body. And in Genesis, even as a human, you aren't a "nephesh" unless you one have a body, and two, are still breathing in it. We'll be right back.

See, in Christianity, we've disconnected "nephesh", which we translate "soul". And we've disconnected this concept from being welded to the experience of a physical life. But Genesis was written not for the Greeks, it was written by and for the Hebrew, and in the Hebrew mind, the idea of life, "nephesh", "soul", it means life as experienced in a breathing body. Day five is the birth of the first "nephesh", life experienced in a body, and we are part of this creation. And we are connected to every other thing that is "nephesh" in our shared physical experience on earth land. We have a dog in our house and her name is Bear. And Bear is in our family here in Thailand. She's a missionary dog. She is actually from Chick-fil-a in Tennessee. My daughter, Brooke, found her, a lady had a box full of puppies at Chick fil a, and we were in America, and she got this dog and brought her home. And so we just threw her in a cage and brought her over to Thailand. And with Bear, we have a connection. And there are times, you know, there's this beautiful -- we walk in the door, she sparks up, she comes running over to us. There's times, like now, Sherry has left and she's gone to visit her mom. And Bear is in depression. And she is just, like, moping, laying there. And sometimes there's excitement between us and Bear, and sometimes there's frustration because of something she does. And, but often we have an engagement, always, there's something going on between us because we're both in a body together. It's not that humans are just animals. Day six is going to flesh this out. And it's gonna show us that we have an amazing place in the scope of it all. But if we jumped straight into the idea -- this is such a common idea. And I've actually said this myself, and I wouldn't say it now, but I said it for years. "I am a spirit". Like that's my primary, who I am. "I am a spirit", I have a soul, and I only live in my body. Well, that is to miss the entire Old Testament understanding of what life is, you're going to miss the amazing connection with all the other embodied lives in the shared experience of Earth's land. And God wants us to know this and that's why it's here in the text.

Going back one more time. This is not a history book. The writer of Genesis is not bound to say anything in any order. He is not trying to bring us up to speed on exactly how everything got done just for our curiosity sake, if it's here, he is telling you for a reason and a purpose. And one of these reasons is to ground us in an understanding that life is is a physical experience. And if we will start to see the "nephesh" around us, and take time to fully experience things through our body, and being locked into specific moments of time in our body, this is one of the keys of living a full life. When you look in the Old Testament at what they are hoping for out of life, It's a physical experience. You know, this thing that like, "this world is not my home", and then everything is this glorious kind of weird cloud-like experience, and we're gonna all get a mansion. It's... I think it's just a gross misunderstanding. And if we're going to get it right, we have to go back. And we've got to start in the beginning and say: what did the Bible itself tell us? Try not to remember all the sermons and the songs and all the culture, and really try not to remember the Renaissance artwork, and all the paintings. Because that's where we got angels with wings and all these other little bitty, chubby baby cherubim. And we've had so many things rise up and with this Greek fascination, the idea that, like, the real life is spiritual life. And then you'll hear these hyper spiritual guys that'll talk about "in my spirit man I perceived...", and you know, like we're walking on air. Life is a physical experience. Even the very idea that you can divide a human into separated parts of body, soul, and spirit. And of course, Spirit is the highest and purest. That's definitely a Greek idea, not Bible idea. But the Genesis account sees us the human as one whole thing. One being made from Earth soil, living in our breathing bodies, feeling the breeze, thinking thoughts, daydreaming, eating food, creating things, feeling love, clapping our hands. All one thing, one being. I mean, if you don't get enough sleep, it's going to affect your mood. And you know, by modern slice and dice of what a human is: the mood, Oh, that would be my soul man. Okay, well, why does low sugar make my soul man grumpy? It's one thing. it's just one whole human. One being, but it is rooted in the physical experience of life. In a breathing body. Think of how differently you will read the -- even scriptures like this: Psalm 103:1 in English, "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name." In Hebrew, "Bless the Lord, O my 'nephesh'". In other words, bless the Lord O my hands, my tears, my voice my emotions. Bless the Lord, O my singing, my movement of my body, my will, my thoughts. Bless the Lord all my life. Bless the Lord. And even the Shema, you know that core prayer of Israel that Jesus took up. Deuteronomy 6:5, "You shall love..." in English, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and might." And Hebrew, "And you shall love Yaweh your God with all your heart and with all your 'nephesh' and with all your life."

Okay, let me wrap up this whole "nephesh" discussion. It's important because it defines what it means to be alive. We're abusing the concept of even the word "living" when we apply it to things that are not biological. If you have the sad experience of watching a human expire, you will see the amazing, horrible, immediate difference between a "nephesh", a living human, and a body that is not alive. Life is not a spiritual concept. It is a physical concept. Let me make it really practical. The Old Testament question is not: Is my dead grandma still alive? The Old Testament question is: Will my grandma live again? Because life is "nephesh". That's why it's so precious. And that's why the teaching of the ressurection of the dead is so powerful and was so powerful to its original Jewish audience. The idea of living in a invisible ghostly-like world, that was not in their mind as life. Because in Genesis, life is a physical experience. Things that are living, are physically living things, only those life forms that have a breathing body are in a category of life. And if they have a body, it's called "nephesh". They're embodied lives. And so, as the supernatural being who is our Creator checks his own work, he observes the interplay between all the different "nephesh" that he's created. In the water, in the sky. He's created water swarmers, and sky fliers, and that word is "raqia". They're flying across the face of the "raqia", the firmament. Water swarmers, sky fliers, ocean darters, and the great monsters of the sea. And it's an orderly, unified system. It works. And it contributes to the continued growth of "nephesh" across Earth land, and the sea and this watery "nephesh" is the first iteration.

And in chapter 6, he's going to go to version two of "nephesh", land "nephesh". And God checks every form of "nephesh" he has created, and he has networked them as a system. And they get greenlights all the way, and God gives it his seal of approval. And he says, this "nephesh" thing is good. Now this word "good" does not mean morally good. It means it is positive. It is life giving. It is constructive. In Hebrew, it's the word "tov". And we will look at this later. This is so important. "Tov", and that means it's constructive. Because "Rah" is the flip side of the coin. "Rah" is destructive. And later, we're gonna see a tree that's all about "Tov" and "Rah". So as God has created, we notice, and I do want you to see, as we wrap up, I want you to see the the process of creating. Because this is a pattern, he's going to follow it again. It starts with "God says", then because he said it, it happens. And then step two, God creates. And then we get to number three, God sees and evaluates. And he tests the things he creates to make sure they're all "tov", they're constructive. And then, as he agrees that they are good, the fourth step: God blesses. And because he is the authority, he has the power to bless. He has the power to judge a thing and to approve it. You know, all judgment's not negative. He can look at what he has created. And he can say, "not good enough", and he can destroy it and start over. Or he can look at what he's created and say "that is 'tov'". And when it is good, he approves of it, he has the authority to approve. And then he has the authority that is also a power to to bless. And what is this whole "blessing"? There's another big word you could run that as a concordance study, what is it to be blessed in the Old Testament? But it's when the words of the authority person, the judgment on your life comes over you and you are judged "tov". You're judged good, you are positive. You're life-giving. You're a life-giving thing, and so a word is spoken over you and this word has power to release and create good things. Good things that come to you. And that's a beautiful thing that God, we'll learn later, God has given that power to man. And fathers you have this power. Use it. Open your mouth and speak blessing over your wife, over your children. Mothers, you have this power. Open your mouth and speak out your blessings on your children. Let them hear you judge them as good. Let them hear you, like, even in conflict times, to be able to say, "you're not at your best right now, but you are good, and I know you are better than this right now." You know, there's a powerful positive way, even to give correction to a child. Big brothers and big sisters, you have a measure of authority. Use it to bless. Teachers, policemen, anyone who's holding authority, you've got an ability that God gives you, and he wants you to use it to bless. And so God opens his mouth and he blesses the "nephesh" of the sea and the sky. And he again uses a formula here in the Genesis 1 Creation Overture, and here's his formula: Be fruitful. That's the first thing he says. And that's seed symbolism. That's tree fruit, tree symbolism. And later in the Bible, we'll see, like, Psalms 1 and 2, that humans are like trees. Humans should be fruit trees, they should be trees that feed other people, not just about themselves. But the great trees are fruit trees, and they are there for other people. You can, if you're interested in the "be fruitful" concept, and people as trees, you can check out the Bible Project YouTube videos, but also their podcast is even more amazing. And they spend at least four hours just on the subject of humans being like trees in the Bible.

So God looks down on his "nephesh", and he says, I want you to be fruit trees. I want you to be fruitful. And secondly says, I want you to multiply. Don't just be limited to add, I want explosion of life. Multiply. And I want you, thirdly, to fill. Fill up your world. Fill the skies. Fill the seas. Fill. Whatever your personal world of authority is, God wants you to take up your space, and he wants you to fill it up. And for the ocean creatures, it's fill the waters of the sea, and man, did fish ever fill the sea. I was looking it up just this week. Scotland is a really small country. They've only got 2000 fishing boats in the whole country, but their boats alone took in nearly a billion fish just from the North Sea. That's one small country's fishing fleet in one location. I looked it up in the world atlas. They say they believe there are 3.5 trillion fish in the sea. Fill the sea. And God looks down on this world and this new life form of "nephesh", living embodied life forms, and it was the fifth day. So this week, connect your body, connect yourself with other living things. Throw out some stale bread in the yard and watch the birds come and eat it. Love on a dog. Ride a horse. If you can, watch birds in flight. Close your eyes, really taste your food. Feel the sun and wind on your skin. Linger with somebody you love as the sun sets and paints the sky red today. Just thank God to be in the land of the "nephesh" and be still alive in your breathing body. Hey, I know we've been covering a lot of new stuff and we would love to have a question-response episode covering anything you want to ask about chapter 1 of Genesis, so you can just email a recording of your question. Keep it to about 30 seconds or so. Tell us your name, where you're from, and what your question is, and we'll do our best to respond to those on the air. That's [email protected] [email protected] We'd love to hear from you.