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Christian mortalism incorporates the belief that the human soul is not naturally immortal and may include the belief that the soul is uncomprehending during the time between bodily death and resurrection, a time known as the intermediate state. "Soul sleep" is an often pejorative term,[a] so the more neutral term "materialism" was also used in the nineteenth century, and "Christian mortalism" since the 1970s.
Historically the term psychopannychism was also used, despite problems with the etymology[b][c] and application. The term thnetopsychism has also been used; for example, Gordon Campbell (2008) identified Milton as believing in the latter though in fact both De doctrina Christiana[d] and Paradise Lost[e] refer to death as "sleep" and the dead as being "raised from sleep". The difference is difficult to identify in practice.
Related and contrasting viewpoints of life after death include universal reconciliation, where all souls are immortal (or are mortal, but universally given continuance) and eventually are reconciled, and special salvation, where a positive afterlife is exclusively held by just some souls. Christian mortalism has been taught by several theologians and church organizations throughout history while also facing opposition from aspects of Christian organized religion. The Roman Catholic Church condemned such thinking in the Fifth Council of the Lateran as "erroneous assertions". Supporters include the sixteenth-century religious figure Martin Luther and the eighteenth-century religious figure Henry Layton, among many others.
Since the phrases "soul sleep" or "soul death" do not occur either in the Bible or in early Anabaptist materials, an explanation is required for the origin of the term. Additionally several other terms have been introduced relating to the view. Modern theologians have used the term "Christian mortalism" and related wordings from the 21st century onwards.
The phrase soul sleep appears to have been popularised by John Calvin in the subtitle to his Latin tract Psychopannychia (Psychopannychia (manuscript), Orléans, 1534, Psychopannychia (print) (in Latin), Strasbourg, 1542, Psychopannychia (in French) (2nd ed.), Geneva, 1558 , Psychopannychia, 1581). The title of the booklet comes from Greek psyche (soul, mind) with pan-nychis (παν-νυχίς, all-night vigil, all-night banquet), so Psychopannychia, originally, represents Calvin's view; that the soul was conscious, active.
The title and subtitle of the 1542 Strasbourg 1st edition read: Vivere apud Christum non-dormire animas sanctas qui in fide Christi decedunt. Assertio. [That the holy souls of those who die in the faith of Christ live with Christ and do not sleep. An Assertion.] (in Latin).
The title and subtitle of the 1545 2nd Latin edition read: Psychopannychia – qua repellitur quorundam imperitorum error qui animas post mortem usque ad ultimum iudicium dormire putant. [Psychopannychia – Or a refutation of the error entertained by some unskillful persons, who ignorantly imagine that in the interval between death and the judgment the soul sleeps.] (in Latin).
The 1558 French edition was a translation of that of the 1545 2nd edition: Psychopannychie – traitté par lequel est prouvé que les âmes veillent et vivent après qu'elles sont sorties des corps; contre l'erreur de quelques ignorans qui pensent qu'elles dorment jusque au dernier jugement.
Luther's use of similar language (but this time defending the view) appears in print only a few years after Calvin:
…so the soul after death enters its chamber and peace, and sleeping does not feel its sleep— Enarrationes in Genesis [Commentary on Genesis] (in Latin), 1535–45.
Historically, Christian mortalists have advanced theological, lexical, and scientific arguments in support of their position.
Some early eastern Christians argued for mortalism on the basis of the identity of blood with life in Leviticus 17:11. Theological arguments which contended that the continued existence of the soul was not taught in the Bible were made by mortalists such as Francis Blackburne, Joseph Priestley, and Samuel Bourne. Mortalists such as Richard Overton advanced a combination of theological and philosophical arguments in favor of mortalism. Thomas Hobbes likewise made extensive use of theological argumentation. Some mortalists viewed their beliefs as a return to original Christian teaching. Mortalist theological arguments were also used to contest the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory and masses for the dead.
In the late eighteenth century, the standard Hebrew lexicon and grammar of John Parkhurst expressed the view that the traditional rendering of the Hebrew word nephesh as reference to an immortal soul, had no lexical support. Mortalists in the nineteenth century used lexical arguments to deny the traditional doctrines of hell and the immortal soul.[page needed]
The eighteenth-century mortalist Henry Layton presented arguments based on physiology. Scientific arguments became important to the nineteenth-century discussion of mortalism and natural immortality, and mortalist Miles Grant cited extensively from a number of scientists who observed that the immortality of the soul was unsupported by scientific evidence.[page needed]
Modern scholars believe the concept of an immortal soul going to bliss or torment after death entered mainstream Judaism after the Babylonian exile and existed throughout the Second Temple era, though both 'soul sleep' and 'soul death', were also held.
Mortalism is present in certain Second Temple period pseudepigraphal works,4 Ezra, 7:61 later rabbinical works, and among medieval era rabbis such as Abraham Ibn Ezra (1092–1167), Maimonides (1135–1204), and Joseph Albo (1380–1444).
Traditional rabbinic Judaism, however, has always been of the opinion that belief in immortality of at least most souls, and punishment and reward after death, was a consistent belief back through the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. Traditional Judaism reads the Torah accordingly. As an example, the punishment of kareth (excision) is understood to mean that soul is cut off from God in the afterlife.
The earliest unambiguous instance of Christian mortalism is found in Tatian's Address to the Greeks from the second half of the second century. Tatian writes: "The soul is not in itself immortal... If, indeed, it knows not the truth, it dies, and is dissolved with the body, but rises again at last at the end of the world with the body, receiving death by punishment in immortality. But, again, if it acquires the knowledge of God, it dies not, although for a time it be dissolved." Tatian's contemporary Athenagoras of Athens came close to mortalism by teaching that souls sleep dreamlessly between death and resurrection: "[T]hose who are dead and those who sleep are subject to similar states, as regards at least the stillness and the absence of all sense of the present or the past, or rather of existence itself and their own life." However, the best-known case of mortalism in the early church is that recorded by Eusebius of Caesarea:
The Dissension of the Arabians. About the same time others arose in Arabia, putting forward a doctrine foreign to the truth. They said that during the present time the human soul dies and perishes with the body, but that at the time of the resurrection they will be renewed together. And at that time also a synod of considerable size assembled, and Origen, being again invited there, spoke publicly on the question with such effect that the opinions of those who had formerly fallen were changed.— Ecclesiastical History VI,37
This synod in Arabia would have been during the reign of Emperor Philip the Arab (244–249). Redepenning (1841) was of the opinion that Eusebius' terminology here, "the human soul dies" was probably that of their critics rather than the Arabian Christians' own expression and they were more likely simply "psychopannychists", believers in "soul sleep".
Some Syriac writers such as Aphrahat, Ephrem and Narsai believed in the dormition, or "sleep", of the soul, in which "...souls of the dead...are largely inert, having lapsed into a state of sleep, in which they can only dream of their future reward or punishments." John of Damascus denounced the ideas of some Arab Christians as thnetopsychism ("soul death"). Eustratios of Constantinople (after 582) denounced this and what he called hypnopsychism ("soul sleep"). The issue was connected to that of the intercession of saints. The writings of Christian ascetic Isaac of Nineveh (d. 700), reflect several perspectives which include mortalism.
Mortalism evidently persisted since various Byzantine writers had to defend the doctrine of the veneration of saints against those who said the saints sleep.[page needed] John the Deacon (eleventh century) attacked those who "dare to say that praying to the saints is like shouting in the ears of the deaf, as if they had drunk from the mythical waters of Oblivion."
Pope John XXII inadvertently caused the beatific vision controversy (1331–34) by suggesting that the saved do not attain the Beatific Vision, or "see God" until Judgment Day (in Italian: Visione beatifica differita, "deferred beatific vision"), which was a view possibly consistent with soul sleep. The Sacred College of Cardinals held a consistory on the problem in January 1334, and Pope John conceded to the more orthodox understanding. His successor, in that same year, Pope Benedict XII, declared that the righteous do see Heaven prior to the final judgement. In 1536, Pope Benedict XII issued the papal bull Benedictus Deus. This document defined the Church's belief that the souls of the departed go to their eternal reward immediately after death, as opposed to remaining in a state of unconscious existence until the Last Judgment.
Mortalism re-emerged in Christianity when it was promoted by some Reformation leaders, and it survives today mostly among Restorationist sects, such as Seventh-day Adventist Church. Conti has argued that during the Reformation both psychosomnolence (the belief that the soul sleeps until the resurrection) and thnetopsychism (the belief that the body and soul both die and then both rise again) were quite common.
And ye, in putting them [the departed souls] in heaven, hell and purgatory, destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection... And again, if the souls be in heaven, tell me why they be not in as good a case as the angels be? And then what cause is there of the resurrection?
Salomon judgeth that the dead are a sleepe, and feele nothing at all. For the dead lye there accompting neyther dayes nor yeares, but when they are awoken, they shall seeme to have slept scarce one minute.
Elsewhere Luther states that
As soon as thy eyes have closed shalt thou be woken, a thousand years shall be as if thou hadst slept but a little half-hour. Just as at night we hear the clock strike and know not how long we have slept, so too, and how much more, are in death a thousand years soon past. Before a man should turn round, he is already a fair angel.
Jürgen Moltmann (2000) concludes from this that "Luther conceived the state of the dead as a deep, dreamless sleep, removed from time and space, without consciousness and without feeling." That Luther believed in soul sleep is also the view of Watts 1985. Some writers have claimed that Luther changed his view later in life.
Gottfried Fritschel (1867) argued that quotations from Luther's Latin works had occasionally been misread in Latin or in German translation to contradict or qualify specific statements and Luther's overall teaching, namely that the sleep of the dead was unconscious: These readings can still be found in some English sources.
The two most frequently cited passages are:
As such, Lutheran Churches affirm that "The Confessions rule out the contemporary view that death is a pleasant and painless transition into a perfect world" and reject both the ideas that "the soul is by nature and by virtue of an inherent quality immortal" and that "the soul 'sleeps' between death and the resurrection in such a way that it is not conscious of bliss".
On the other hand, others believing in Christian mortalism included Camillo Renato (1540), Mátyás Dévai Bíró (1500–45), Michael Servetus (1511–53), Laelio Sozzini (1562), Fausto Sozzini (1563), the Polish Brethren (1565 onwards), Dirk Philips (1504–68), Gregory Paul of Brzezin (1568), the Socinians (1570–1800), John Frith (1573), George Schomann (1574) and Simon Budny (1576).
Inasmuch then as the whole man is uniformly said to consist of body, and soul (whatever may be the distinct provinces assigned to these divisions), I will show, that in death, first, the whole man, and secondly, each component part, suffers privation of life.
Gordon Campbell (2008) identifies Milton's views as "thnetopsychism", a belief that the soul dies with the body but is resurrected at the last judgment. however Milton speaks also of the dead as "asleep".
Those holding this view include: 1600s: Sussex Baptists d. 1612: Edward Wightman 1627: Samuel Gardner 1628: Samuel Przypkowski 1636: George Wither 1637: Joachim Stegmann 1624: Richard Overton 1654: John Biddle (Unitarian) 1655: Matthew Caffyn 1658: Samuel Richardson 1608–74: John Milton[page needed] 1588–1670: Thomas Hobbes 1605–82: Thomas Browne 1622–1705: Henry Layton 1702: William Coward 1632–1704: John Locke 1643–1727: Isaac Newton 1676–1748: Pietro Giannone 1751: William Kenrick 1755: Edmund Law 1759: Samuel Bourn 1723–91: Richard Price 1718–97: Peter Peckard 1733–1804: Joseph Priestley Francis Blackburne (1765).
Belief in conditional immortality and the annihilation of the unsaved became increasingly common during the nineteenth century, entering mainstream Christianity in the twentieth century. From this point it is possible to speak in terms of entire groups holding the belief, and only the most prominent individual nineteenth-century advocates of the doctrine will be mentioned here.
Others include: Millerites (from 1833),[f] Edward White (1846), Christadelphians (from 1848), Thomas Thayer (1855), François Gaussen (d. 1863), Henry Constable (1873), Louis Burnier (Waldensian, d. 1878), the Baptist Conditionalist Association (1878), Cameron Mann (1888), Emmanuel Pétavel-Olliff (1891), Miles Grant (1895),[page needed] George Gabriel Stokes (1897).
Present-day defenders of mortalism include Nicky Gumbel, some Lutherans, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Advent Christian Church, the Afterlife group, Christadelphians, the Church of God (Seventh Day), Church of God (7th day) – Salem Conference, the Church of God Abrahamic Faith, and various other Church of God organizations and related denominations which adhered to the older teachings of Herbert W. Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God and the Bible Student movement.
Jehovah's Witnesses teach a form of thnetopsychism, in that the soul is the body (Genesis 2:7) and that it dies (Ezekiel 18:20; Ecclesiastes 9:5,10).  They believe that 144,000 chosen ones will receive immortality in heaven to rule as kings and priests with Christ in Heaven (Rev 7:4; 14:1,3) but all the other saved will be raised from the dead on the last day (John 5:28,29) to receive eternal life on a Paradise Earth (Revelation 7:9,14,17).
The orthodox Christian belief about the intermediate state between death and the Last Judgment is immortality of the soul followed immediately after death of the body by particular judgment. In Catholicism some souls temporarily stay in Purgatory to be purified for Heaven (as described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030–32). Eastern Orthodoxy, Methodism, Anglicanism, and Mormonism use different terminology, but generally teach that the soul waits in the Abode of the Dead, specifically Hades or the Spirit World, until the resurrection of the dead, the saved resting in light and the damned suffering in darkness. According to James Tabor this Eastern Orthodox picture of particular judgment is similar to the first-century Jewish and possibly Early Christian concept that the dead either "rest in peace" in the Bosom of Abraham (mentioned in the Gospel of Luke) or suffer in Hades. This view was also promoted by John Calvin, although Calvin taught that immortality was not in the nature of the soul but was imparted by God. Nineteenth-century Reformed theologians such as A. A. Hodge, W. G. T. Shedd, and Louis Berkhof also taught the immortality of the soul, but some later Reformed theologians such as Herman Bavinck and G. C. Berkouwer rejected the idea as unscriptural.
Opponents of psychopannychism (soul sleeping) and thnetopsychism (the temporary death of the soul) include the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church (that also teach about Intercession of saints, connected to this subject), most mainline Protestant denominations, and most conservative Protestants, Evangelicals, and Fundamentalists.
Believers in the opposing concept of universal reconciliation, arguing that salvation will eventually be received by all of humanity, have also referred to various books of the New Testament that seem to describe grace given to immortal souls such as the First Epistle to the Corinthians. The sections of 1 Corinthians 15:22, "As all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ", and 1 Corinthians 15:28, "God will be all in all", are cited. Verses that seem to contradict the tradition of complete damnation and come up in arguments also include Lamentations 3:31–33 (NIV), "For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love", and 1 Timothy 4:10 (NIV), "We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe."
As well, the Epistle to the Colossians receives attention, with Colossians 1:17–20 reading:
"He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross."
The Roman Catholic Church has called "soul mortality" a serious heresy:
Whereas some have dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul that it is mortal, we, with the approbation of the sacred council do condemn and reprobate all those who assert that the intellectual soul is mortal, seeing, according to the canon of Pope Clement V, that the soul is ... immortal ... and we decree that all who adhere to like erroneous assertions shall be shunned and punished as heretics.— Fifth Council of the Lateran (1513)
The idea that the spirit continues as a conscious, active, and independent agent after mortal death is an important teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Concerning the post-death, pre-judgment place of human spirits, LDS scripture states that "the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life" (Alma 40:11). They are then assigned to a state of paradise or hell (called Spirit Prison) in the spirit world depending on their faith in Christ and the manner of their mortal life (Alma 40:12–14). The Spirits remain in these states until the final judgment, when they are either received into a state of glory in the Kingdom of God, or they are cast off into Outer Darkness.
Latter-Day Saint doctrine differs from Eastern Orthodox doctrine in that LDS doctrine teaches that the souls in Prison who ended up there due to ignorance or inability to accept Christ may be preached to while in Prison so that they may accept Christ. This is derived from the LDS interpretation of 1 Peter 3:18–20 where Christ is described as preaching to the "dead who were in prison" and 1 Peter 4:5–6, which states:
5 Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. 6 For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.
Like many Eastern Orthodox and Catholics, the LDS Church teaches that the prayers of the righteous living may be of help to the dead, but the LDS Church takes this one step further with vicarious sacraments (called "ordinances" but with a sacramental theological meaning). The LDS Church preaches the necessity of baptism by water and the Holy Ghost (Baptism and Confirmation) for salvation. They teach that previously ignorant spirits who accept Christ in Spirit Prison may receive saving ordinances through vicarious Baptism and Confirmation of the living. This is drawn from 1st Corinthians 15, wherein the Apostle Paul is arguing against a group of Christians who are mistakenly denying the physical resurrection of the dead. Paul asks them in 1st Corinthians 15:29:
The LDS Church believes that this is a reference to vicarious work for the dead which was practiced by the ancient Christian Church and considered orthodox in Early Christianity, including by the Apostle Paul, hence his use of it as an example of the correct doctrine of the resurrection. This is the origin of the LDS practice of baptism for the dead. As such, a great deal of LDS doctrine and practice is tied to the idea of the continued existence and activity of the human spirit after death and before judgment.
As early as 1917 Harvey W. Scott wrote "That there is no definite affirmation, in the Old Testament of the doctrine of a future life, or personal immortality, is the general consensus of Biblical scholarship." The modern scholarly consensus is that the canonical teaching of the Old Testament made no reference to an "immortal soul" independent of the body. This view is represented consistently in a wide range of scholarly reference works.
According to Donelley, "Twentieth century biblical scholarship largely agrees that the ancient Jews had little explicit notion of a personal afterlife until very late in the Old Testament period," and "only the latest stratum of the Old Testament asserts even the resurrection of the body." Scholars have noted that the notion of the "disembodied existence of a soul in bliss" is not in accordance with a Hebrew world view: "While Hebrew thought world distinguished soul from body (as material basis of life), there was no question of two separate, independent entities." Gillman argues that
In contrast to the two enigmatic references to Enoch and Elijah, there are ample references to the fact that death is the ultimate destiny for all human beings, that God has no contact with or power over the dead, and that the dead do not have any relationship with God (see, inter alia, Ps. 6:6, 30:9–10, 39:13–14, 49:6–13, 115:16–18, 146:2–4). If there is a conceivable setting for the introduction of a doctrine of the afterlife, it would be in Job, since Job, although righteous, is harmed by God in the present life. But Job 10:20–22 and 14:1–10 affirm the opposite.
However, N. T. Wright suggests that "the Bible offers a spectrum of belief about life after death." While Goldingay suggests that Qohelet points out that there is no evidence that "human beings would enjoy a positive afterlife," Philip Johnston argues that a few Psalms, such as Psalm 16, Psalm 49 and Psalm 73, "affirm a continued communion with God after death," but "give no elaboration of how, when or where this communion will take place."
Neyrey suggests that, "for a Hebrew, 'soul' indicated the unity of a human person," and "this Hebrew field of meaning is breached in the Wisdom of Solomon by explicit introduction of Greek ideas of soul. Avery-Peck argues that
Scripture does not present even a rudimentarily developed theology of the soul. The creation narrative is clear that all life originates with God. Yet the Hebrew Scripture offers no specific understanding of the origin of individual souls, of when and how they become attached to specific bodies, or of their potential existence, apart from the body, after death. The reason for this is that, as we noted at the beginning, the Hebrew Bible does not present a theory of the soul developed much beyond the simple concept of a force associated with respiration, hence, a life-force.
Regardless of the character of the soul's existence in the intermediate state, biblical scholarship affirms that a disembodied soul is unnatural and at best transitional. Bromiley argues that "the soul and the body belong together, so that without either the one or the other there is no true man. Disembodied existence in Sheol is unreal. Paul does not seek a life outside the body, but wants to be clothed with a new and spiritual body (1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5)."
The mortalist disbelief in the existence of a naturally immortal soul, is affirmed as biblical teaching by a range of standard scholarly Jewish and Christian sources. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought (1995) says, "There is no concept of an immortal soul in the Old Testament, nor does the New Testament ever call the human soul immortal." Harper's Bible Dictionary (1st ed. 1985) says that "For a Hebrew, 'soul' indicated the unity of a human person; Hebrews were living bodies, they did not have bodies". Cressey 1996 says, "But to the Bible man is not a soul in a body but a body/soul unity". Avery-Peck 2000 says, "Scripture does not present even a rudimentarily developed theology of the soul" and "The notion of the soul as an independent force that animates human life but that can exist apart from the human body—either prior to conception and birth or subsequent to life and death—is the product only of later Judaism". The New Dictionary of Theology says that the Septuagint translated the Hebrew word nefesh by the Greek word psyche, but the latter does not have the same sense in Greek thought. The Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, 2000 says, "Far from referring simply to one aspect of a person, "soul" refers to the whole person". The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, "Possibly Jn. 6:33 also includes an allusion to the general life-giving function. This teaching rules out all ideas of an emanation of the soul." and "The soul and the body belong together, so that without either the one or the other there is no true man". The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, 1987 says, "Indeed, the salvation of the "immortal soul" has sometimes been a commonplace in preaching, but it is fundamentally unbiblical." The Encyclopedia of Christianity, 2003 says "The Hebrew Bible does not present the human soul (nepeš) or spirit (rûah) as an immortal substance, and for the most part it envisions the dead as ghosts in Sheol, the dark, sleepy underworld". The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2005 says, "there is practically no specific teaching on the subject in the Bible beyond an underlying assumption of some form of afterlife (see immortality)". The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible (rev ed.), 2009 says "It is this essential soul-body oneness that provides the uniqueness of the biblical concept of the resurrection of the body as distinguished from the Greek idea of the immortality of the soul".
The mortalist disbelief in the existence of a naturally immortal soul is also affirmed as biblical teaching by various modern theologians,[g] and Hebblethwaite observes the doctrine of immortality of the soul is "not popular amongst Christian theologians or among Christian philosophers today".
But among philosophers they were perhaps equally notorious for their commitment to the mortalist heresy; this is the doctrine which denies the existence of a naturally immortal soul..
For mortalists the Bible did not teach the existence of a separate immaterial or immortal soul and the word 'soul' simply meant 'life'; the doctrine of a separate soul was said to be a Platonic importation..
mortalism, the denial that the soul is an incorporeal substance that outlives the body.
christian mortalism – the view that the soul either sleeps until the Day of Judgment, or is annihilated and re-created.
Thus the so-called Ganztodtheorie, or mortalism, states that with death the human person totally ceases to be..
doctrines of mortalism or psychopannychism, which asserted that the being or the experience of the soul were suspended during the remainder of secular time.
the term 'soul-sleeper' is used today only as a term of reproach.
Soul-sleepers, a term sometimes applied to Materialists (which see), because they admit no intermediate state between death and the resurrection.
The term 'Christian mortalism,’ which I have borrowed from the title of Norman T. Burns's masterly book on that topic.
The same dynamic can be found in John Milton's Christian Doctrine, another spirited defense of Christian mortalism.
Force then goes on to show how Newton's Christian mortalism fits with Newton's core voluntarism, ie, his essentially… Force finds Newton's adoption of Christian mortalism clearly stated in Newton's manuscript entitled "Paradoxical…"
The mood of a pannychis was often one of gaiety, but this was also a form of religious action... The pannychis was marked, according to one charming definition, by 'la bonne humeure efficace' (Borgeaud).
The belief that the soul dies with the body but is resurrected at the last judgment is known as thnetopsychism; the belief that the soul sleeps from the moment of death until the last judgment is known as psychopannychism.
Milton tends to espouse the variation of vital introspection known as Thnetopsychism, which holds that the body and soul die, though certain passages in De Doctrina Christiana seem to support the alternative type, Psychopannychism, which states that soul and body merely sleep until the Last Day.
The doctrine of the death of the soul (Thnetopsychism)... Origen defends it against Thnetopsychism which was widely current in Arabia.
Till the end of the sixth century and beyond, Christians in Nisibis and Constantinople, Syria and Arabia adduced Leviticus 17:11 which states that 'The soul of the whole flesh is the blood" to argue that the soul after death sank into non-existence, that it lost its sensibility and stayed inert in the grave together with the body.'.
The notion of the soul of man being a substance distinct from the body, has been shown, and I hope to satisfaction, not to have been known to the writers of the scriptures, and especially those of the Old Testament. According to the uniform system of revelation, all our hopes of a future life are built upon another, and I may say an opposite foundation, viz. that of the resurrection of something belonging to us that dies, and is buried, that is, the body, which is always considered as the man. This doctrine is manifestly superfluous on the idea of the soul being a substance so distinct from the body as to be unaffected by its death, and able to subsist, and even to be more free and happy, without the body. This opinion, therefore, not having been known to the Jews, and being repugnant to the scheme of revelation, must have had its source in heathenism, but with respect to the date of its appearance, and the manner of its introduction, there is room for conjecture and speculation..
Drawing heavily on the theology and biblical hermeneutics of Faustus Socinus and his various disciples, Hobbes denied that the Bible gave any sanction for belief in the existence of spirits, the immortality of the soul, the Trinity, purgatory, or hell; and he contended that Christ’s Second Coming would bring resurrection of the dead, the establishment of God’s kingdom in the Holy Land, and – for the righteous alone – eternal life on earth. In the new Hobbsesian dispensation, the faithful had a permanent stake in technological progress, while the infidel had nothing to fear after being raised from the dead other than the dreamless sleep that would come with a second and permanent cessation of life..
Both the Socinians and Newton were also mortalists who saw the teaching of the immortal soul, like the Trinity, as an unwarranted and unscriptural obtrusion upon primitive Christianity. Since Newton's manuscripts only occasionally discuss the intermediate state between death and resurrection, it is difficult to ascertain whether he adhered to mortalism of the psychopannychist (soul sleep) or thnetopsychist (soul death, with eternal life given at the resurrection) variety. The latter position was that of both the Socinians and John Locke..
Priestley summarized his mature religious views in the Corruptions. He wanted to restore the early, primitive Jewish church, one uncorrupted by Greek and pagan ideas. The two great corruptions (he actually listed hundreds of corruptions in both beliefs and forms of worship) involved two noxious and related doctrines – the Greek concept of a separate soul or spirit, and the orthodox doctrine of the trinity. Priestley wanted to restore the corporealism or materialism of the ancient Jews, a materialism he believed essential to any mature religion..
During the pre-Reformation period, there seems to be some indication that both Wycliffe and Tyndale taught the doctrine of soul sleep as the answer to the Catholic teachings of purgatory and masses for the dead..
John Parkhurst's Greek and English Lexicon was published in 1769, though even the first edition was nearly posthumous, for he died while the book was being printed. The third edition appeared in 1825 without any additional editors. Some twenty years later, it reappeared, significantly updated by HJ Rose and JR Major..
As a noun, nephesh hath been supposed to signify the spiritual part of man, or what we commonly call his soul; I must for myself confess that I can find no passage where it hath undoubtedly this meaning..
Dr. Fulke saith plainly, that neither in the Hebrew, Greek, nor Latin, is there a word proper for hell (as we take hell for the place of punishment of the ungodly.) Fulke’s Defence Translation, pp. 13, 37, 89. Is not this a full testimony against their opinion of the torments of hell?.
The acceptance of organic evolution had helped theology by opening up the possibility of extending the process beyond death but had created a difficult at the beginning. The usual assumption has been that animals are mortal, men immortal. At what point then in the evolutionary process did immortality enter?… We are confronted thus with the problem of conditional immortality. Henry Drummond said that life depends on correspondence with the environment. The human body needs food, drink and oxygen to breathe. But if the body is gone and the environment is spiritual what correspondence can there be on the part of one who has lived only for the needs and lusts of the body?.
In the first place, there have not been a few, both in ancient and modern times, who have maintained the truth of a 'Conditional Immortality'.
At the same time there have always been isolated voices raised in support of other views. There are hints of a belief in repentance after death, as well as conditional immortality and annihilationism.
Many biblical scholars down throughout history, looking at the issue through Hebrew rather than Greek eyes, have denied the teaching of innate immortality.
As good creational monotheists, mainline Jews were not hoping to escape from the present universe into some Platonic realm of eternal bliss enjoyed by disembodied souls after the end of the space-time universe. If they died in the fight for the restoration of Israel, they hoped not to 'go to heaven', or at least not permanently, but to be raised to new bodies when the kingdom came, since they would of course need new bodies to enjoy the very much this-worldly shalom, peace and prosperity that was in store.
Some sages believed that the soul remains quiescent, with those of the righteous 'hidden under the Throne of Glory'; others viewed the souls of the dead as having full consciousness.
Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish as well as his colleague Rabbi Yannai said that there is no such thing as the popular concept of a hell, gehinnom, lasting a long time, but that at the time when G'd passes out judgment the wicked will be burned.
Thus we have one Rabbi denying the very existence of hell. 'There is no hell in the future world,' says R. Simon ben Lakish.
But Ibn Ezra held that the souls of the wicked perish with their bodies.
'Isaac,' too, is convinced that the final reward and punishment for human deeds awaits the resurrection (e.g., Bedjan 724.4 from bottom). Then those who died in 'peace and quiet' with the lord will find eternal peace (Bedjan 276.15), while sinners will be banished to a darkness far away from God (Bedjan 117f.) Gehenna, the kingdom of the demons (Bedjan 203.4 from bottom), is a place of fire, and on the day of judgment this fire will burst forth from the bodies of the damned (Bedjan 73.4; 118.3–7). Until the resurrection, the dead must wait in Sheol, which the author seems to imagine as a collective grave (Bedjan 366.3 from bottom; 368.5; 369.4). Some passages in the corpus suggest that the dead continue to act, in Sheol, as they have during life (e.g., Bedjan 90.13; 366.10–18). Others declare that action for good or ill is no longer possible after death (e.g., Bedjan 392.4 from bottom), and even envisage Sheol, before the judgment, as a place of fire ruled over by Satan (Bedjan 93.4f.).
In church history, adherents of soul-sleep have included orthodox believers such as Martin Luther (at one stage in his life) and many Anabaptists, and heretical groups such as Jehovah Witnesses.
Denn dass Luther mit den Worten 'anima non-sic dormit, sed vigilat et patitur visiones, loquelas Angelorum et Dei' nicht dasjenige leugnen will, was er an allen andern Stellen seiner Schriften vortragt.
Nevertheless, there is a difference between the sleep or rest of this life and that of the future life. For toward night a person who has become exhausted by his daily labor in this life enters into his chamber in peace, as it were, to sleep there; and during this night he enjoys rest and has no knowledge whatever of any evil caused either by fire or by murder. But the soul does not sleep in the same manner. It is awake. It experiences visions and the discourses of the angels and of God. Therefore the sleep in the future life is deeper than it is in this life. Nevertheless, the soul lives before God.
Harold Fisch calls it 'a major current of seventeenth century protestant ideology'..
It emerged seriously in English-language theology in the late 19th century.
In the 1900s, the United States saw a minimal emergence of annihilationism, primarily in new fringe groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists. But during that century England saw the rise of several books defending this doctrine, such as Archbishop of Dublin Richard Whately's A View of the Scripture Revelations Concerning a Future State (1829), Congregationalist Edward White's Life in Christ (1846), English Baptist Henry Dobney's The Scripture Doctrine of Future Punishment (1858), and Anglican priest Henry Constable's Duration and Nature of Future Punishment (1868)..
In Germany Richard Rothe, in France and Switzerland Charles Lambert, Charles Byse (translator), and E Petavel, in Italy Oscar Corcoda, and in America CF Hudson and WR Huntington have been prominent advocates of conditionalist views, and have won many adherents. Thus Conditionalism has at length, in the 20th cent., taken its place among those eschatological theories which are to be reckoned with..
there is life beyond the grave. History is not meaningless or cyclical; it is moving towards a glorious climax. ...Then those who are in Christ will go to 'be with the Lord for ever' (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
We believe that human beings are by nature mortal. Genesis 2:7; 3:19; 1 Timothy 6:16; 2 Timothy 1:10; Romans 2:6–7. We believe that human beings in death are unconscious. Psalm 6:5; 115:17; Ecclesiastes 9:5,10. This is likened to "sleep". Job 14:12; Psalm 13:3; Jeremiah 51:39; Daniel 12:2; John 11:11–14; 1 Corinthians 15:51. We believe that immortality is obtained only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:21–23; 2 Timothy 4:7–8; 1 John 5:9–12.
Not even one part of us survives the death of the body. We do not possess an immortal soul or spirit.
Nowhere in the Bible do we read of an "immortal soul". The two words are never linked. The words "immortal" and "immortality" occur only six times, all in the writings of the apostle Paul. When applying to humans, immortality is described as a prize to be given only to the 144,000, who are redeemed from the earth to reign with Christ Jesus in heaven.
The Watchtower maintains its position that immortality will not be bestowed upon faithful men and women on earth in the new world, but only everlasting life for their loyalty and unbreakable devotion will be given them as a reward. They will always be fleshly mortals. Only the faithful church [of 144,000] taken from among men will be immortal with their Head and Savior Jesus Christ, who is in heaven.
We are further taught by it that there is an intermediate state between death and the resurrection, in which the soul does not sleep in unconsciousness, but exists in happiness or misery till the resurrection, when it shall be reunited to the body and receive its final reward.
Wesley believed that when we die we will go to an Intermediate State (Paradise for the Righteous and Hades for the Accursed). We will remain there until the Day of Judgment when we will all be bodily resurrected and stand before Christ as our Judge. After the Judgment, the Righteous will go to their eternal reward in Heaven and the Accursed will depart to Hell (see Matthew 25).
Because some have a prevision of the glory to come and others foretaste their suffering, the state of waiting is called 'Particular Judgment'.
Several places in the New Testament we clearly find the notion that the dead are conscious, dwelling somewhere in the heavenly realms beyond, and awaiting, either in torment or comfort, the final judgment (Luke 16:19–31, 23:43; 1 Pet. 3:18–20; 4:6; Rev. 6:9–1 l; 7:9–12)..
Modern scholarship has underscored the fact that Hebrew and Greek concepts of soul were not synonymous. While the Hebrew thought world distinguished soul from body (as material basis of life), there was no question of two separate, independent entities. A person did not have a body but was an animated body, a unit of life manifesting itself in fleshly form—a psychophysical organism (Buttrick, 1962). Although Greek concepts of the soul varied widely according to the particular era and philosophical school, Greek thought often presented a view of the soul as a separate entity from body. Until recent decades Christian theology of the soul has been more reflective of Greek (compartmentalized) than Hebrew (unitive) ideas.
A broad consensus emerged among biblical and theological scholars that soul-body dualism is a Platonic, Hellenistic idea that is not found anywhere in the Bible. The Bible, from cover to cover, promotes what they call the "Hebrew concept of the whole person." GC Berkouwer writes that the biblical view is always holistic, that in the Bible the soul is never ascribed any special religious significance. Werner Jaeger writes that soul-body dualism is a bizarre idea that has been read into the Bible by misguided church fathers such as Augustine. Rudolf Bultmann writes that Paul uses the word soma (body) to refer to the whole person, the self, so that there is not a soul and body, but rather the body is the whole thing. This interpretation of Pauline anthropology has been a theme in much subsequent Pauline scholarship..
The general consensus is that the Old Testament rejected any natural or innate immortality..
Indeed, the salvation of the 'immortal soul' has sometimes been a commonplace in preaching, but it is fundamentally unbiblical. Biblical anthropology is not dualistic but monistic: human being consists in the integrated wholeness of body and soul, and the Bible never contemplates the disembodied existence of the soul in bliss..
There is no suggestion in the OT of the transmigration of the soul as an immaterial, immortal entity. Man is a unity of body and soul—terms that describe not so much two separate entities in a person as much as one person from different standpoints. Hence, in the description of man’s creation in Genesis 2:7, the phrase 'a living soul' (KJV) is better translated as 'a living being.'.
A particular instance of the Heb. avoidance of dualism is the biblical doctrine of man. Greek thought, and in consequence many Hellenizing Jewish and Christian sages, regarded the body as a prison-house of the soul: sōma sēma 'the body is a tomb'. The aim of the sage was to achieve deliverance from all that is bodily and thus liberate the soul. But to the Bible man is not a soul in a body but a body/soul unity; so true is this that even in the resurrection, although flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, we shall still have bodies (1 Cor. 15:35ff.).
Gn. 2:7 refers to God forming Adam 'from the dust of the ground' and breathing 'into his nostrils the breath of life', so that man becomes a 'living being'. The word 'being' translates the Hebrew word nep̄eš which, though often translated by the Eng. word 'soul', ought not to be interpreted in the sense suggested by Hellenistic thought (see Platonism; Soul, Origin of). It should rather be understood in its own context within the OT as indicative of men and women as living beings or persons in relationship to God and other people. The lxx translates this Heb. word nep̄eš with the Gk. word psychē, which explains the habit of interpreting this OT concept in the light of Gk. use of psychē. Yet it is surely more appropriate to understand the use of psychē (in both the lxx and the NT) in the light of the OT’s use of nep̄eš. According to Gn. 2, any conception of the soul as a separate (and separable) part or division of our being would seem to be invalid. Similarly, the popular debate concerning whether human nature is a bipartite or tripartite being has the appearance of a rather ill-founded and unhelpful irrelevancy. The human person is a 'soul' by virtue of being a 'body' made alive by the 'breath' (or 'Spirit') of God..
Far from referring simply to one aspect of a person, "soul" refers to the whole person. Thus, a corpse is referred to as a "dead soul", even though the word is usually translated "dead body" (Lev. 21:11; Num. 6:6). "Soul" can also refer to a person’s very life itself (1 Kgs. 19:4; Ezek. 32:10). "Soul" often refers by extension to the whole person..
All Christians believe in immortality, understood as a final resurrection to everlasting life. The majority have held that immortality also includes continuing existence of the soul or person between death and resurrection. Almost every detail of this general confession and its biblical basis, however, has been disputed. The debate has been fueled by the development of beliefs about the afterlife within the Bible itself and the variety of language in which they are expressed. The Hebrew Bible does not present the human soul (nepeš) or spirit (rûah) as an immortal substance, and for the most part it envisions the dead as ghosts in Sheol, the dark, sleepy underworld. Nevertheless it expresses hope beyond death (see Pss. 23 and 49:15) and eventually asserts physical resurrection (see Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2)..
soul. The idea of a distinction between the soul, the immaterial principle of life and intelligence, and the body is of great antiquity, though only gradually expressed with any precision. Hebrew thought made little of this distinction, and there is practically no specific teaching on the subject in the Bible beyond an underlying assumption of some form of afterlife (see immortality)..
But the Jew did not believe that human beings consist of an immortal soul entombed for a while in a mortal body..
While the idea of an immortal soul is an established belief for most Christians, it cannot be supported by Biblical texts. …Consequently Buddhist and biblical views of the self agree that there exists no immortal soul that remains self-identically permanent through time.
Theodore R Clark also taught it. In his view, the whole person is mortal and subject to final and total destruction..
It is generally accepted that in biblical thought there is no separation of body and soul and, consequently, the resurrection of the body is central. The idea of an immortal soul is not a Hebrew concept but comes from Platonic philosophy. It is, therefore, considered a severe distortion of the NT to read this foreign idea into its teaching..
Several Evangelical theologians suggest that the concept of man possessing an "immortal soul" is not the teaching of the Word of God. Clark Pinnock argues that its source is Plato (or Greek philosophy in general), and not the Bible..
That the idea of the soul's immortality as disembodied state beyond death is not popular amongst Christian theologians or among Christian philosophers today has already been acknowledged..
Bible consistently uses a metaphor for death that is viewed as neither socially or theologically appropriate among evangelicals. It calls death a sleep. But if a believer slips and refers to the dead as sleeping, judging from the reaction among traditionalists, you would think that he had shot God.