Breath of life

Page 1 of 3 (57 items) 1 2 3 Next >
This post has 56 Replies | 4 Followers

Posts 23586
Forum MVP
Graham Criddle | Forum Activity | Posted: Wed, Jun 9 2010 10:35 AM

Hi

I am reading a book on the work of the Holy Spirit and came across a discussion of the meaning of "breath of life" in Genesis 2:7.

It states that "breath of life" cannot mean an immortal human soul because the same words have been used in Genesis 1:30 to describe animals and birds.

I don't want to start a theological debate here but just trying to use Logos SW to validate whether this is an accurate statement.

Using the RI feature in the ESV it shows that the Lemma in 1:30 for "breath" is 'nps' whereas in 2:7 it is 'nsmh'.

Furthermore, It does appear that the phrase "breath of life" in 1:30 is actually equivalent to "living creature" in 2:7.

However, my knowledge of Hebrew is non-existent so I could easily be misinterpreting this. 

Is anyone able to comment on how this could best be validated or is what I have done above sufficient?

Many thanks

Graham 

Posts 1367
JimTowler | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 6:07 PM

Hi Graham,

Sorry I can't directly answer your question. I have been learning some Greek, but no Hebrew so far. Maybe a later date ...

I wanted to comment, as you seem to be saying it yourself: Someone saying "this" equals "that" based on a translation, may not in fact hold true once someone studies the underlying original language.

So your question is a good example of why Logos4 is so useful to me. Its easy for me to search by Greek lemma and compair verses, rather than based on the English translation. I know Hebrew has a related idea, but there is something new I have yet to get my head around: the "root" concept I have seen spoken of; so until I get some clues on Hebrew, for me, I would not assume I know if two "base" words are the same or different.

Posts 8967
RIP
Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 6:51 PM

Graham Criddle:

However, my knowledge of Hebrew is non-existent so I could easily be misinterpreting this. 

Is anyone able to comment on how this could best be validated or is what I have done above sufficient?

Very interesting question. The only answer I could offer is what others have told me. I'm not familiar with hardly any Hebrew yet.

This is a great example of why we need the new resource "Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew" featured in today's blog. http://blog.logos.com/

Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software http://www.logos.com/products/prepub/details/5876 is available for the Pre-Pub price of $159.95 until it ships Friday. It will then be $499.95.

There are enough tools in Logos to give an answer to the first statement. If the Hebrew scholars who told me what it says are correct, your deduction is on target. But I wouldn't want to debate the issue without deeper investigation. I'm sure somebody else can give you an educated answer. Just be sure to check out the Pre-Pub before it ships.

Logos 7 Collectors Edition

Posts 19040
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 7:10 PM

Graham, my Hebrew is rusty, but I can at least direct you to resources and features in Logos which should help you understand the range of meanings of these two related words. Looking in commentaries that discuss the underlying Hebrew words is also helpful, if you have any of those in your Library. What base package are you working with?

The Hebrew word in Gen 2:7 is נשׁמה (nsmh). You can look that up in a Hebrew lexicon by right-clicking the English word "breath" in the ESV, then you'll see Lemma among the tabs on the right of the popup menu. Make sure this tab is selected and you'll see the following options on the left side of the menu:

The three most useful options on the left for you will be "Look up," "Search this resource," and "Bible Word Study."

Look up does a basic Lectionary Lexicon lookup. It will depend on which lectionary lexicon or lectionaries lexicons you have available in your library and how you have them prioritized, but I've got Enhanced BDB as my preferred lectionary lexicon, so this is what I get if I click on Look up:

As you can see from the four possible definitions, this can mean breath (either of God, of man, or of every breathing thing) or spirit of man.

If you have multiple lexicons and you want to see what other ones say about this word, you can click on the + tab to the right of your lexicon tab and it will open up a list of all your lexicons that have entries for this word. You can work your way through each of them and see what you learn from that exploration.

The next useful command is "Search this resource" which will find all the other occurrences of that lemma in your ESV (Old Testament). You can look through the various ways it has been translated by the ESV Scholars and get a better idea in context of its range of possible meanings. That won't necessarily tell you what it means in Genesis 2:7, but it gets you partway there.

The "Bible Word Study" sort of combines the best of both of those commands and then some:

Up at the top you'll see a brief summary of glosses (short definitions) of your word:

You can click "more" to show more lexicons (if you have more) and if you hover over a blue highlighted lexicon name, it will pop up the beginning of the entry for that word in that lexicon:

The next section below (Definition) has this nifty exploding wheel that shows you all the different ways that Hebrew word is translated:

If you click on one section of the ring, it will expand out and show you all the verses in the ESV where that Hebrew word is translated by the English word the segment is labeled with. Here it's easy to see that spirit is only used to translate one of the occurrences of nsmh:

All of this is very interesting, but if you don't know Hebrew well, you can't really learn why the translators might have chosen breath for the translation in Gen 2:7. Here's where looking in commentaries is helpful. Here's a brief excerpt from the Word Biblical Commentary volume that covers that part of Genesis. WBC has good discussions of the meanings of Hebrew words and how they relate to the overall meaning of the verse.

The UBS Handbook on Genesis also has some good information on 2:7: "The breath of life is to be understood as 'the breath that gives life' or 'the breath that causes the man to live.'"

If you want to search through your whole library looking for any other places where Genesis 2:7 is discussed, use this search syntax

<Gen 2:7>

Then do all the same stuff I've just described for Gen 1:30, and you should be well on your way to understanding these subtle differences in more depth.

Posts 30137
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 7:22 PM

Rosie Perera:
Look up does a basic Lectionary lookup.

Is this a new feature? WinkLectionaries usually deal with lections; lexicons deal with lexemes.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 19040
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 7:40 PM

MJ. Smith:

Rosie Perera:
Look up does a basic Lectionary lookup.

Is this a new feature? WinkLectionaries usually deal with lections; lexicons deal with lexemes.

Oops, I should go to bed! Smile

EDIT: I just fixed my other post. You know, it kind of made sense to my sleep-deprived brain. I must have conflated lexicon + dictionary = lectionary. Stick out tongue

Posts 116
Chris Thompson | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 7:54 PM

Gen 2:7
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
KJV

Note that it says that man became a living soul. Consider the possibility that it is the combination of the physical being that God created and the spirit, or breath of life that he breathed into him, that caused man to BE a soul. Hence the theology that man is a soul...rather than man has a soul. 

Happy Pondering

 

 

Posts 8967
RIP
Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 8:19 PM

Here I go again, replying to my own post..........

Matthew C Jones:

This is a great example of why we need the new resource "Learn to Use Biblical Greek and Hebrew" featured in today's blog. http://blog.logos.com/

Or we could all cancel our Pre-Pub orders and let Rosie (with a little help from MJ) teach us how to benefit from our Logos tools.

Seriously, I think that is partly what this new reource will help teach me. I got a little of this instruction at Camp Logos but haven't put it in to practice.

Really cool to see it demonstrated so clearly. Thanks Rosie.

Logos 7 Collectors Edition

Posts 1367
JimTowler | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 9:09 PM

So, this solution needs two steps:

1) We help fund Rosie to have EVERY possible resource that is in Logos format (and maybe some dead-tree ones that are not), then

2) We ask Rosie and she does a complete study for us and posts it back here.

I expect she would welcome (1) but not (2) ... Smile

And of course, Bob won't welcome the cash-flow impact that results from the above plan ...

Posts 19040
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 10:32 PM

JimT:

So, this solution needs two steps:

1) We help fund Rosie to have EVERY possible resource that is in Logos format (and maybe some dead-tree ones that are not), then

2) We ask Rosie and she does a complete study for us and posts it back here.

I expect she would welcome (1) but not (2) ... Smile

If you could arrange some way to get my sleep for me (so that I actually benefit from it) then I might be more open to #2. Stick out tongue

Posts 1145
William | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 10:37 PM

Rosie Perera:
Rosie Perera wrote the following post at Today 10:32 PM:

It is about 2.5 hours now......Go to Bed! 

Posts 30137
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 10:46 PM

Rosie Perera:
Oops, I should go to bed! Smile

But its 7-8 hours to bedtime in your timezone Big Smile I suspect that your conflation theory proves you're still coherent.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 19040
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 10:55 PM

MJ. Smith:

Rosie Perera:
Oops, I should go to bed! Smile

But its 7-8 hours to bedtime in your timezone Big Smile I suspect that your conflation theory proves you're still coherent.

In my timezone, I haven't had any sleep for 36 hours. So I could hardly be coherent. You people have to stop asking so many questions! I can't ignore them! I'm totally addicted. Help. Pray for me. Really, seriously, I mean it. And yes, that might mean I won't be able to answer as many questions if your prayers are answered.

Posts 1367
JimTowler | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 11:03 PM

Um - If I write something here, Rosie will read it ..

If I don't write something here, Rosie will stay up in case I do, so she can read it.

So, as I expect you will read this, Please Rosie, go sleep and read the rest of any message much later or tomorrow, or the day after that.

Take care of yourself please.

Speaking on a different matter, Paul tells the readers that the body is a temple for the Holy Spirit, and to Glorify God with our body.

 

Posts 1145
William | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 11:12 PM

Rosie Perera:
I haven't had any sleep for 36 hours.

I had a friend at Oklahoma State University that would remain awake for 72-120 hours.  When he slept he did it for 24 hours.  Are you like my friend Rosie? 

I am praying for you (really).  Rosie, I care for you sis.....Peace in Christ our Lord and Savior.  One God now and forever.

 

Posts 1374
nicky crane | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 11:31 PM

I understand from Genesis 2  7 that God formed man from earth (I learn from commentaries in Logos that dust doesn't necessarily mean dry powder).  But man was not yet alive.  So God breathed into his nostrils breath (neshamah, not ruah, as I had been told and believed till I read the original) and so gave him life.  i.e. we have life from God's own breath, unlike animals.  "thus man became a living soul/being".  We can model a man from clay - but can't make it live - only God can do that.  I understand that the tree of life, which they were not forbidden, would have given them eternal life.  So, instead of eating from that tree, they chose to follow the suggestions of the snake and eat from the one tree God in his love had forbidden them, and thus they were cut off from the tree of life.

I wouldn't necessarily advise people to take the years I needed to learn enough Hebrew for it to help me with my Bible study.  But, having put in that time, I feel bereft if I don't have a Hebrew testament to hand.  Now I take that on computer with Logos if I'm away just for a few days.

So, although I'm not ordering it for myself, I do recommend that people think hard about getting the Logos Greek and Hebrew language software if they don't have a reasonable knowledge of Greek and Hebrew.  And I'm not being paid for making this recommendation!!!

Posts 30137
Forum MVP
MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Wed, Jun 9 2010 11:43 PM

An interesting different suggestion from a Logos resource:

Onkelos, the second-century convert to Judaism, also converted the Torah into the common language of his day, Aramaic. He translates/interprets Gen. 2:7 as Adam becoming a speaking spirit rather than as the NJPS translation has it, a living being.
Shai Cherry, Torah Through Time: Understanding Bible Commentary from the Rabbinic Period to Modern Times, 92 (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2007).

 

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

Posts 116
Chris Thompson | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 10 2010 1:41 AM

Graham Criddle:
or is what I have done above sufficient?

 

It would seem that the "original text" in an interlinear ( also in Logos exegetical guide) is directly tied to a particular translation. In Genesus 1:30, the word "breath" occurs in the ESV, but not in the NASB, KJ, or NKJ. So in those translations...it would appear that it never was in the original.

How do we know which translation/interlinear is closest to the ACTUAL original text? The inclusion, or exclusion of that one word dramatically changes this discussion.Smile

Posts 1374
nicky crane | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 10 2010 2:17 AM

the Hebrew has nephesh hayyah.  Hayyah means living, if my memory serves me right.  Below dictionary definitions for nephesh.  A free translation might well make do with just life to translate the 2 words.  I tend to translate the Bible very freely so that people can understand it, taking care to be true to the meaning of the original as I understand it.

 

Posts 116
Chris Thompson | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 10 2010 2:35 AM

 Nevermind

Page 1 of 3 (57 items) 1 2 3 Next > | RSS