Hebrews Lesson 87 May 10, 2007
NKJ Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.
Alright, we are continuing our study here on the subject of the origin of life and transmission of the soul which is what comes out of our study in Hebrews 7:9-10 where we have the passage that talks about Levi paying tithes while he is still in the loins of Abraham.
Now we have talked about that to some degree; but the broader issue, the broader doctrine that comes behind that has to do with two issues. One is the origin of the soul and the other is the transmission of the soul. I have gone through some things as I have been refining my thought reading some contrary literature the last week or so to just get some ideas of what some of the critiques have been on this position. It has been kind of interesting because (unfortunately I think) the way this argument has often been presented has been way overstated and in the context of that has created some rather strongmen arguments of its own. The other side, at least in terms of a doctrinal dissertation which I just read, created its own set of false assumptions and strongmen arguments. And so I want to just want to go back over a couple of things we have done already.
One thing I pointed out at the very beginning is that there are two basic positions on the origin of the soul – traducianism and creationism. Traducianism teaches the view that both the material body and the immaterial soul are transmitted through physical pro-creation. As I pointed out this was first articulated by Tertullian around the 2nd – 3rd century AD. His dates are 155 to 220. This view was declared heretical by Thomas Aquinas and by other Roman Catholic theologians in the Middle Ages. Now one of the things that I have come to understand a little more clearly in recent weeks is that a number of Roman Catholics take a position (or probably the vast majority takes a position) that is known as conception creationism. They don't take it – that is not the official Traducianism is not the official position of the Roman Catholic Church. It is the second position that we are talking about here creationism that only the body is generated through physical generation, but the soul is directly created and imparted by God. Now the difference is there are those that hold that the soul is imparted at conception; others that hold that it is imparted at birth. Okay? So we have to make sure that we correctly identify a number of these positions.
What I found interesting in this particular dissertation is the inference was there - if not the direct statement that the vast majority of… No, he did say the vast majority of creationists held to creationism at conception. And he footnoted it. So I went and checked the footnotes and they didn't say that either. One did, but it wasn't footnoted. It was a Bible dictionary. Now Bible dictionaries are notorious for making generalized statements. But, there was no documentation. In reading that I have done over the years, I have never seen a protestant theologian say such as Calvin or Hodge or Burkhoff or some of the others argue that creation of the soul was imparted at conception. It was always understood to be from birth although I have to admit in many cases they don't state that. But that is how it was presented when I was in seminary and I knew at least two professors that were teaching in the Systematic Theology Department at Dallas Seminary when I was there who were creationists – birth creationists, as opposed to conception creationists. So this is a viable position that has been held down through the ages by numerous believers. Now the crux passage where a lot of people go and I have spent a lot of time on this passage already is Genesis 2:7. Just to remind you of the exegesis here.
NKJ Genesis 2:7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The first phrase has to do with the verb yatsar which generally has to do with shaping something physical. Now when God is forming the dust of the ground, He shapes it into the physical body of the man. He then breathes into his nostrils or blows into his nostrils and that of course is an anthropomorphism because God doesn't breathe or have breath any more than He has eyes or ears or fingers or anything like that. So this part of the verse is clearly anthropomorphic in relationship to God. That "God breathing into his nostrils" - the "his nostrils" refers of course to the nostrils in the body that God has just shaped for the man and that is literal. That's not anthropomorphic. So that is literal and then he breathes in the breath of life. Now this can't be anthropomorphic because…
- What fills the lungs - some wind something does fill the lungs - of the body, which imparts the life principle and generates life in the body that God has just shaped.
- There are numerous passages in the Old Testament where the word neshamah is used referring to breath and in numerous cases it is that which indicates life. They didn't have EKG's or EEG's and what indicated life was breath.
So this is that which indicates the presence or absence of life is breath. I will show you some Scriptures on that in just a minute. Then the last phrase which I pointed out last time, nephesh hajah. Hajah is the Hebrew feminine noun which means a living thing or an animal, that which has life. Then nephesh is the word that sometimes we translate it soul, but here it is more the idea of the animating principle. It is a compound word and one of the things or mistakes that can be made is to go in and break these phrases down into their components because often a phrase is more than the sum of its parts. So if you break it down where you emphasize nephesh as opposed to the phrase nephesh hajah you can end up creating as I pointed out the last time more of a platonic view of the soul which is foreign to Old Testament contexts. You just can't find a lot of documentation from Hebrew scholars that would substantiate that use of nephesh here. In fact what you have is the phrase nephesh hajah is used for the sense of something that is fully alive three other times in the creation narrative. It is used of birds in Genesis 1:20. It is used of sea creatures in 1:21. It is used of animals in 1:24. So to argue that nephesh hajah here means living soul creates a problem when this is the fourth time the phrase is used in the creation narrative and you wouldn't translate it living soul in the previous other three instances. Okay? That has led some to over emphasize the immaterial dimension of man and to treat this as more of a Greek concept of soul than a Hebrew concept of soul.
I just have some passages here which utilize the word neshamah to indicate breath as the evidence of life. Genesis 7: 22 talks about the destruction of everybody on the planet other that Noah and his three sons and their wives.
NKJ Genesis 7:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on the dry land, died.
This is talking about everybody who was alive.
NKJ Deuteronomy 20:16 "But of the cities of these peoples which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, you shall let nothing that breathes remain alive,
This is the instructions to Moses for holy war, to the Israelites as they are about to take the land.
That indicates both physical animals such as domestic animals such as cattle and sheep and goats as well as humans. It's interesting when you get into this debate about what is life biblically because we all know that there a certain amount of greenies running around with a couple of screws lose who think that if they talk to their plants that their plants are living beings and they will respond to them and all of this other nonsense. The Bible doesn't use nephesh hajah of single-celled creatures or of plants. One reason I make that point is because Adam and Eve were vegetarians in the garden.
So if you want to make an argument in the creation evolution controversy you say that there was no death until Adam sinned you are always going to get some smart aleck come along and say, "Well, what happened when they ate that first piece of corn? They killed it."
No, it is not the same word used for life. There is recognition in the Hebrew narrative of different categories of life in birds and fish and animals and the sea creatures. These are breathing creatures and that seems to be what makes them living creatures. That is a quality that indicates life.
So we can't push nephesh too far. I haven't been doing that. I have been arguing that nephesh indicates that what animates the physical body is that which is immaterial. You see this connection through here of words like nephesh and ruach like we have back here in Genesis 7:22.
These are terms for that which is breath, wind, that which is invisible.
NKJ Joshua 10:40 So Joshua conquered all the land: the mountain country and the South and the lowland and the wilderness slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the LORD God of Israel had commanded.
There are a whole lot of passages in the conquest section in Joshua, in Judges, and on into Samuel that uses neshamah in terms of the destruction of all that breathes. You have Joshua 10:40 that they are to utterly destroy all that breathes.
NKJ Joshua 11:11 And they struck all the people who were in it with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying them. There was none left breathing. Then he burned Hazor with fire.
Genesis 2:7 has been used. The way it has been structured and the way some people have presented this in such a way that it becomes a sort of pattern for all other birth. It is and it isn't. It isn't in the sense that when God is creating the physical home for the soul of Adam, it is not the same. It can't be made parallel to what is happening in the development of the baby inside the womb. God is shaping the clay. There is no heartbeat. There is no blood flow. There is no cell life. There is no brain activity. It is not an analogy. To be honest the creationist position never uses it that way. It is clearly recognized that it was an immediate creation by God and that physical - the physical dimension of man, the material dimension - is passed on indirectly. God is indirectly in charge.
I pointed out several passages where the Old Testament attributes events to God as if He directly did it when in fact He did it indirectly through human means. God saved me. Yes, but He did it indirectly through somebody, my parents, who gave me the gospel. Yet I still talk because God even though He is the ultimate agent He didn't immediately save me. He indirectly or mediately saved me through human instrumentality. So the Bible uses very direct language for both mediate and immediate involvement of God because everybody recognizes that God is the one who gives life and gives soul life whether it is done through a traducianist view – they would all say that we believe that God gives the soul and creationists. You can't misrepresent other positions just to try to make our own position look a little bit stronger. But there is this reaction, this knee jerk reaction that you find today because people think that a creationist position at birth automatically legitimizes abortion.
So I thought well, I would read something to you to give you a little different perspective. I thought I would put this up on the overhead because it is a long quote. Normally I don't like to read long quotes, but there are a couple of lengthier quotes that I want to read tonight just to educate you a little bit about this whole issue.
This is an article from the Encyclopedia of Judaism which was published in 2000. One of the editors was Jacob Noisner who is a very well-known rabbinical scholar and several others. In this article they write…
The Jewish legal and moral attitude toward abortion based on biblical Talmudic and rabbinic sources…
Note that. They're not dealing with modern Jewish formulations. They are going back to Mishnaic interpretation, rabbinic interpretation, Talmudic interpretation of the Bible.
The Jewish legal and moral attitude toward abortion based on these sources including the response literature… (That is, some modern literature that has been described in detail in English by various authors) It states … In Jewish law an unborn fetus is not considered to be a person.
Now let me pause here. That is really critical terminology because I am going to read something written by Harold O. J. Brown earlier and he argues a number of non-sequiturs, I think, in his position that if it human – let me make another aside here – what is in the womb is human. It is not non-human. It is not something else. It is going to be a human being. It is human. Unfortunately some people have inadvertently overstated the case and say that it doesn't matter.
"It is just a mass of biological cells."
No, it is human. But he makes the supposition that it is human therefore it is a person. Person gets into a legal definition. Let me set that aside until I come back and address it later on.
So he says here…
Jewish law an unborn fetus is not considered to be a person.
That means a legal entity that can own property, transfer titles, be legally recognized.
The person in Hebrew is considered nephesh literally soul
— which is what I have been pointing out.
It is not a person. It is not nephesh until it is born. The fetus is regarded as part of the mother's body and not a separate being until it begins to egress from the womb during parturition. Until 40 days after conception the fertilized egg is considered mere fluid.
Those 40 days – where does that come from? That comes back from Aristotelian thought that at forty days there was a quickening. What is that based on? Who knows? But that was it. At 40 days there was a quickening and that is when it begins to become human. So that is where the 40 days comes from.
Intentional abortion is not mentioned directly in the Bible, but a case of accidental abortion is discussed in Exodus 21:22-23.
Now, that is the passage where it talks about case law. You have two men fighting and they want to do each other bodily harm, but they inadvertently and accidentally hit a pregnant woman and the pregnant woman has a baby. One position that some people hold is a view that that is a miscarriage and that it is not a live birth. But it is recognized by most scholars that the Hebrew word that is used there indicates live birth and is always used of live birth and so that's the position that must be understood there. It is a live birth, which means that at the point of birth the baby is alive. Any damage that is done is post birth. So if life begins at birth, then obviously you have a living baby because it is after birth. We will get into that in detail when we look at the exegesis of that passage.
So they are going to give the Jewish interpretation and this is only one Jewish interpretation and I have a host of other Jewish scholars who hold to the live birth view. They argue that this is the miscarriage view.
NKJ Exodus 21:22 " If men fight, and hurt a woman with child, so that she gives birth prematurely, yet no harm follows, he shall surely be punished accordingly as the woman's husband imposes on him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
NKJ Exodus 21:23 "But if any harm follows, then you shall give life for life,
That miscarriage view would be that "if there other misfortune to the mother". So that is how they interpret that. The issue here is that by issuing a fine they are showing that what happens is significant. It is not insignificant. It is not just a mass of non-entity non-human cells.
They say, "Well, if they had even considered it to be human, there would have been more than a fine."
No, what is interesting is if you get into looking at the Mosaic Law if a Jew harms another Jew there is a penalty. If he kills a Jew (a Hebrew kills a Hebrew) there is a death penalty. But if he kills a slave it is a fine. A slave was fully human, but there is inherent recognition of a difference of a value of life. That goes through a number of different laws in the Mosaic Law. The writer of this article in the encyclopedia goes on to say…
Most biblical commentators…
That would be Jewish – it is a Jewish encyclopedia. Don't get confused and think these are Christians.
Most biblical commentators interpret "no other misfortune" to mean no fatal injury to the woman following her miscarriage. In that case the attacker pays only financial compensation for having unintentionally caused the miscarriage no differently than if he had accidentally injured the woman elsewhere on her body. Thus when the mother is otherwise unharmed following trauma to her abdomen that causes the fetus to be lost the only concern is to have the one who is responsible to pay damages to the woman and her husband for the loss of the fetus.
The major Talmudic source for abortion rulings in Judaism discusses a case of danger to the mother. This reading reads…
If a woman is having difficulty in giving birth and her life is in danger one cuts up the fetus within her womb and extracts it limb from limb because her life takes presence over that of the fetus. But if the greater part was already born one may not touch it for one may not set aside one person's life nephesh for that of another. Commentators explain that the fetus is not considered to be a nephesh or person until it has left the womb and entered the air of the world. One is therefore permitted to destroy it to save the mother's life. Once the head or the greater part of the body of the infant comes out the infant may not be harmed because it is considered as fully born and in Judaism one may not sacrifice one life to save another.
There are many other Talmudic sources which support the non-person status of the unborn fetus. In fact during the first 40 days of conception the Talmud considers the fertilized zygote to be nothing more that mere fluid however after 40 days have elapsed the fetus is deemed to be fashioned to form. Laws of ritual uncleanness must be observed for fetuses older than 40 days implying that the unborn fetus although not considered to be a living person nephesh still has considerable status. In fact Jewish law allows one to desecrate the Sabbath to save the life or preserve the health of an unborn fetus so that the child may observe many Sabbaths later. The permissibility to kill the unborn fetus to save the mother's life rests upon the fact that such an embryo is not considered a person nephesh until it is born.
Mimodades and Karo present another reason for allowing abortion or an embyotomy prior to birth where the mother's life is in danger. The argument of pursuit which understands the fetus to be pursuing the mother.
The point of this whole article (and it goes on for another two pages) is that in Jewish thought that because it is potential human life that apart from any other accident or any other factor all things being considered what will result from what is in the womb is a human being. God is putting together a human being bit by bit. So nobody has the right to go in and stop it once this process has begun. You can't go in and test. In rabbinical law you can't test for any kind of diseases. You can't test for Down's syndrome. You can't do any of these things because there is no stopping life. That's the position because they recognize inherently that what is in the womb is the image of God. Therefore that involves both the physical and the soul dimensions. So you just can't mess with it. This is extremely serious stuff.
On the other hand as I pointed out last time it is not deemed murder. I think that is a very important distinction to make. I am going to bring out something in just a minute. We talked about that and this just shows that the position I am articulating which to a lot of evangelicals sounds really bizarre that you don't have life until birth.
In fact in this next article that I am going to read by Harold O. J. Brown he says, "Who could ever imagine that the fetus could make it to birth without a soul?"
Where is your evidence for this? Remember, that is an important word when I read you this next article. Where is your evidence?
So we talked about the fact – what I have shown you is that this is not a position that is unique to Christianity; but it is one that is also consistent with the teaching of the rabbis going back to the Mishnah which is roughly at the time of Christ. The Mishnah was written and codified in the 2nd—3rd century AD it represents an oral history that goes back to the 2nd, 3rd, maybe 4th century BC.
Now the next question that we are addressing is the question of when does God impart the soul? How do we know this? Now I have gone into Scripture to show that the Bible uses this language of "from birth to death". It is interesting one of the strongman arguments that I saw in this dissertation he just cited all of these things that creationists would argue from birth, from birth, from birth.
But, in all the passages he cited there was also the other end of the formula, which is from death; but he left that out and said, "See they are basing everything on the use of a word."
That was faulty argumentation.
So we have to ask the question, when does God impart the soul and how do we know the soul is there? Can you measure it? Can you weigh it? Can you see it? Is there something physical that demonstrates the presence of the soul?
Now that is a very important question. Well, in doing my research I ran across this second article which came out in the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Journal. The Trinity Journal came out (volume XIV) in 1993. It was written by Harold O. J. Brown. Now this is significant because Harold O. J. Brown is probably one of the top 5 significant protestant theologians who pushed the whole anti-abortion movement from the inception. In fact, in the article he tells a story. Let me see if I can find it here. He tells a story about when Roe v. Wade first came down.
He says, "Unfortunately for those who consider abortion a moral evil indeed under most circumstances a crime, the evangelical community was very slow to react to Roe. Prominent Christian leaders such as W. A. Criswell (He was a pastor of First Baptist up in Dallas which at the time was the largest Baptist church in the world.) greeted Roe v. Wade with favor. In some cases apparently what seemed to be a reflex anti-Catholicism. The question on his stand on this writer Dr. Chriswell…
See Harold O. J. Brown was of such stature he could call up W. A. Chriswell on the phone and ask him, "What are you going to do about this?"
He did the same thing with Billy Graham. Harold O. J. Brown is probably in his mid to late 80's now. He was a major figure in neo-evangelicalism in the 50's through the early 90's.
He talks about when they first formed one of the earlier anti-abortion movements. Billy Graham was first on the board, but then when he saw where it was going he got off the board. He just didn't understand all of this. He went on to talk about the fact that it was really the writing of "Whatever Happened to the Human Race" by Francis Chaffer and C. Everett Coop that galvanized the religious evangelical community into an anti-abortion stance. I remember going to see (they did) a full media film presentation of that series in Dallas in about 1979-1980. I remember going to that (just like I did with "How Shall We Then Live?") with Tommy and Charlie and a bunch of other guys. We all sat there and went through the whole thing. But that's what galvanized the action.
Now who's this guy Harold O. J. Brown? I think it is important to give you a little idea of who this guy is and what his credentials are. At the time he wrote this he held the Franklin Forman Chair of Christian Ethics and Theology and was a professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Evangelical Divinity School. He is now professor Emeritus from there. He served as a pastor in Switzerland. He taught on the faculty of Trinity for numerous years. He earned his four degrees. He is well-educated. He earned his four degrees from Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School.
I have been to Harvard Divinity School. They didn't teach the Bible there. When I first went there and looked at the list of courses was in about 1981 or 1982 and there wasn't a Christian course there. Now they had Christian books in the bookstore. They had some Greek and Hebrew tools in the bookstore that I bought because I hadn't seen those prices in 10 years. That is probably how long they had been in the bookstore.
He has a degree from Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Germanic languages and biochemical sciences, a Bachelor of Divinity in theology, the Master of Theology in Church history and a Doctor of Philosophy in Reformation studies. He also studied at the University of Marburg (Germany) and the University of Vienna (Austria) and taught courses in Basel, Switzerland and in India. Now I just want you to be aware of those credentials because of a couple of things he is going to say.
Now, he makes a couple of telling comments (and I think self-damming comments) that are dangerous to his position within his article. In one section of the article which he entitles "The Question of the Soul – Unanswered or Irrelevant?" He recognizes that for some people it is important to know when ensoulment takes place. Now you would think that he had made that decision – that if he is this hardcore frontline evangelical anti-abortionist that he would have understood that issue.
I am just going to read some spot paragraphs here.
He writes in one place.
It is interesting that some of the medical and legal discussions about abortion are now turning to speculation concerning the time of ensoulment.
That is in the medical and legal community because he is saying that there is recognition that if we are going to take the life of the fetus we have to decide when a soul gets there. If they are materialists and Darwinists they can't really talk about a soul. So he is recognizing that this is as a problem for their position.
He says that …
This discussion is now turning to the time of ensoulment even though neither academic medicine nor law has hitherto had much to say about the nature of the human soul or even whether such a thing as a soul actually exists.
He goes on to say…
It is precisely because ensoulment on the one hand from the purely scientific point of view cannot be brought into the relationship with life or divification however defined, but on the other hand is precisely associated in folk thought.
You see it is the popular people that are concerned about when the soul gets there. But what he is pointing out here is something I didn't realize. The whole pro-abortion argument has developed completely apart from any discussion of ensoulment. It has nothing to do with it. That never enters into their discussion behind it.
On the other hand precisely associated faux pas popular culture with quickening and thus with life that the concept of ensoulment is creeping back into the discussion despite its self evident religious or theological nature.
Now here is the point. He recognizes here that the question – when does the soul get there- is one that is theological or religious in nature.
He goes on to say…
In order to bring the question of ensoulment into the picture when discussing the morality of abortion, the present factual situation must be studiously ignored, (According to him.)
Factually the government is not prepared to take the question of the presence or absence of the human soul into account.
Why not? They don't have an epistemological basis to do it. He later recognizes that we don't want the government trying to decide when the soul gets there.
It goes on to say…
It is neither prepared nor equipped to consider whether such a thing as a human soul exists. Thus the discussion of ensoulment for all practical purposes is necessarily confined to those religious circles especially, but not only Christian ones who do believe that man has a soul. If it were possible to argue that for a certain time during gestation the fetus was without a human soul this would have only limited bearing on abortion law and abortion practice in the United States.
You see that is what he is recognizing. Even if we could prove when the soul got there, it wouldn't have any relevance on the legal decision. The courts didn't care when the soul got there. That wasn't a factor.
Because however everyone understands ensoulment, it is not possible to assume that the fetus remains without a soul until live birth.
What an assumption he has made! See he has frontloaded this with his own.
He says, "I can't even imagine that a fetus would make it to live birth without a soul. Nobody would do this."
He says that…
Very few evangelical thinkers have proposed that the baby becomes a living person only when its first breath takes its first breath based on Genesis 2:7.
The problem is he gives no substantiation for that. He just can't imagine it so he generates it from his own arrogance.
Then he goes on to say in a separate paragraph several pages later…
The question of ensoulment cannot be answered scripturally.
Hello! Here is this guy with all of these degrees - master of theology and PhD gone to Harvard, Harvard Divinity School, gone to a lot of conservative schools, teaches at conservative schools and is conservative to the core and he says that the Bible can't tell you when the soul gets there. After he has made a critique of both creationism and traducianism, his conclusion is that the Bible can't tell you when ensoulment gets there.
So my question for him is - why are you saying it is a full human life at conception? You don't know when the soul is there. Maybe the soul is not there. How do you know? He says that the Bible can't tell him.
"So the question of ensoulment," he says, "cannot be answered scripturally as the Scripture makes no reference to the process at all."
But, even if we could answer it, naming and contrast to the prevailing views a late point in pregnancy our answer would not be relevant to the current legal discussion in as much as it would move on a theological plane and deal with issues of which the legislatures and courts are supposed to take notice. Thus the only possible value of the discussion lies in the fragile support it may give to those Christians and others who believe in the soul and the effort to convince themselves our government and much of the medical profession have not embraced the method in which killing represents the solution.
Okay, what is he saying?
- He is saying that whatever is in the womb is human. This is true. This has to be admitted. It is not just a mass of cells. It is not a tumor. It is not a hangnail. Given the normal progress this is how God is forming the home for a soul for a human being. It is part of the image of God.
- He says Scripture cannot answer the question as to the timing of ensoulment.
This is completely false.
- We do not want the government or the courts attempting to decide the time of ensoulment apart from revelation.
Did you hear that? He is actually right. We don't want the government coming in and determining when the soul is there because the soul can only be determined on the basis of (he would say) theological or religious basis. I would say you can only know it from revelation. You can't know it from empiricism, rationalism or mysticism. You can only know it from revelation.
- Only Christians have access to revelation. I Corinthians 2:14.
NKJ 1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Okay, that is a key lynchpin in my argument. You can't base law for believers and unbelievers on that which is not knowable apart from their system of epistemology. You can't hold unbelievers accountable for knowledge that is only available through revelation. Only Christians have access to revelation.
- Christians don't agree as to the time of ensoulment. There is no clarity there. Over the history of Christianity there is no clarity.
Now I have my position. I think it is pretty clear. But, over the scope of Christianity there are two views and Christians don't agree.
So are we going to base federal legal statute on information that is only available through divine revelation only knowable to born again believers and born again believers can't agree as to what it means?
Therefore my conclusion is that this shouldn't be an issue of federal law or the courts. In my view, you don't have full human life. Now that word "full" is very important the way I am articulating this position because, what is in the womb is potential and progressively developing human life. It is the physical, material body part of it; but they both work together. That it is not murder. To have abortion on demand or abortion at will or abortion for birth control is tantamount to interfering in a divine process.
Now I am going to deal with some other passages of Scripture in there, but that would make it immoral and sinful but not a matter of federal constitution.
That is my point.
Okay, now I want to come back and deal with some problem passages over the next couple of weeks.
The first problem passage that was raised to me was Job 3:3. So turn in your Bibles to Job 3:3.
It is very important to look at the whole context here in Job 3. Job 3:3 says…
NKJ Job 3:3 "May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, 'A male child is conceived.'
Now the argument that is set forth here is life begins at conception. We never said nothing begins at conception. We said something did, something human begins at conception; but what we are saying is that the soul isn't present until birth. But this passage set forth - see you have a parallelism here and in that second half of the verse a male child was conceived. See it is full human life. Well, let's look at the passage. The context tells you that the issue here is primarily birth. All through this section of Job, Job is bemoaning the fact that he was ever born.
NKJ Job 3:1 After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.
Literally, in the Hebrew – cursed his day. That is the Hebrew figure of speech for his birthday. So he is cursing his birthday, not his day of conception.
The second thing we should note is that this extends throughout - that is a topical sentence. It is narrative. The poetry begins in verse 3. So the narrative says at this point Job opens his mouth and begins to curse his birthday and Job spoke and said… Verse 3 is the first thing he says.
That is the Hebrew verb jalad meaning to birth. It is not conception.
We might as well hunker down here with the way the rain is going. We have 40 days and 40 nights. We can go for a long Bible class tonight. I don't think we are going anywhere and I don't think Ann Wright made it in with the cake tonight so there is nothing good back there to go back and eat.
So in the first stanza he says…
NKJ Job 3:3 "May the day perish on which I was born,
Then in the second clause he said…
And the night in which it was said, 'A male child is conceived.'
Now a male child has to do with the properties of the physical body, not the presence of the soul. That is all that we are arguing - that there are two developments that take place in the development of the human being. The first has to do with the development of the body and the second is the giving of the soul. All this second stanza says is that a male child was conceived.
Now there are people that come along and say …when you look at some of these passages like if you skip down to verse 11 Job says…
NKJ Job 3:11 "Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?
There is the argument that because the first person singular pronoun is used there that he was present there. Well, we have the same kind of thing, just hold your place and turn over to Psalm 139:13. David says…
NKJ Psalm 139:13 For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.
They are not somebody else's. My soul wasn't there yet, but those were mine in my mother's womb. They weren't somebody else's. So how else would you articulate it?
See, he says, "Me, I was in my mother's womb."
Well, yes he was but who else was it? Your body wasn't in there. There is no other way to articulate this in English.
NKJ Psalm 139:14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.
All of this is using a first person pronoun to refer to that which is his body.
The point is if you look at the context of Job 3.
He goes on to say…
NKJ Job 3:4 May that day be darkness; May God above not seek it, Nor the light shine upon it.
NKJ Job 3:5 May darkness and the shadow of death claim it; May a cloud settle on it; May the blackness of the day terrify it.
NKJ Job 3:6 As for that night, may darkness seize it; May it not rejoice among the days of the year, May it not come into the number of the months.
Then we get down to more specifics in verse 10.
NKJ Job 3:10 Because it did not shut up the doors of my mother's womb, Nor hide sorrow from my eyes.
You see this whole passage is talking about the birth of Job. Why didn't I die at birth?
We have looked at the terminology here - mirechem and mibeten. Now one of the things that was pointed out in this dissertation which I thought did a decent job of this and a corrective in some sense is that as I pointed out before when you have certain words and components of words that sometimes you do yourself more damage by breaking down the particulars and the components than recognizing that the phrase or the clause or the whole saying has meaning in and of itself that is beyond the sum of its parts. So if you spend too much time trying to make a case for the preposition min or ek meaning "out from" as opposed to… I could use the preposition ek or min and say that I am going to pour this coffee out of this cup. Now it has presence inside the cup and it comes from the source of the cup and it comes out. You have other passages as we saw in Scripture if you try to take that meaning and that is a legitimate meaning for min or for ek. If you take that meaning and make it cover every use of min or ek you have a real problem when you come to Revelation 3:10 when God promises that He is going to keep them out of the Tribulation. I forget the terminology there. Let me go back and look real quick because that is the same type of prepositional construction.
NKJ Revelation 3:10 "Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
That means you are not going to go into the trial at all. There are parallels to that so you can go either way. So if you press the preposition too far you can create a problem.
But what I did with this one dissertation as I kept reading, I was chuckling to myself because the writer is a dispensational pre-Trib writer and yet he went so far without paying attention to the fact that there is an ek over there in Revelation 3:10. He went so far in arguing that min and ek must always be source that he moved himself right into a post-Trib position without realizing it. See, you have to understand and keep in mind all of these different uses and they are not hard and fast. Language isn't mechanical like that.
What is important as I pointed out last time is that the uses of mirechem and mibeten and ek kolia in the New Testament are idioms for "from birth". That is how they are translated. As I pointed out numerous translations NIV, NASB, New English Bible, The New English Version - all of these recognize in numerous places that this is an idiom that should be translated "from birth." Don't try to parse it into some kind of separation from birth or things like that. It just means "from birth". It's not separation out from the womb. It is just an idiom for birth as opposed to conception because in the Hebrew language they didn't have a noun for birth. So the only way to make the statement "from birth" was to use a circumlocution.
But they did have a noun as I pointed out the last few lessons, they did have a noun for conception. So that was available to them. When they do talk about conception, they talk about two acts – that Eve conceived and gave birth. These are two different events. They are not viewed as the same. There is the beginning of the process which develops the physical home for the soul and then there is the actual birth itself.
So Job 3:13 is not a passage that would argue for conception being a starting point where the soul is. There is no evidence that the soul is there at conception, only physical masculinity. But throughout the whole passage the argument is at birth. Birth and death are the parameters that are given there.
I am going to close in prayer.