[The Hebrew word for SOUL in the Bible is NEPHESH, and the first four times this word is used in the Bible, it is used in relation to Animals.
Genesis 1:20: "And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life" (The word "life" here is nephesh--soul).
Genesis 1:21: "And God created great whales, and every living creature (nephesh--soul) that moveth, which the water brought forth abundantly."
Genesis 1:24: "The living creature (nephesh) after his kind, cattle and creeping things."
Genesis 1:30: "Every beast...every foul...everything that creepeth, wherein there is life (nephesh)."]
By the same analogy and logic which is used to prove by the Bible that men have souls, we can equally prove that lower animals have souls.
In the argument in either case we meet with many obscure and seemingly contradictory passages. To comprehend the meaning of the Bible we must take into consideration the original language from which it is derived and the probable prejudice brought to bear on the translators.
Throughout this work I have carefully examined the best authorities and make no statement which cannot be fully substantiated.
It must not be forgotten that our present English version (King James Bible) dates back only to 1611, and it is beyond this date that scholars go to ascertain the original meaning of words. The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language and the New Testament in the Greek, but the Bible has undergone various translations. The Septuagint version or translation of the Old Testament into Greek is of vast importance in showing the original language of the Hebrew at that time. And there is to-day a great difference in the opinions of Hebrew and Greek scholars about the meaning of many words in the translation.
The Hebrew text of the Old Testament is acknowledged by all scholars to be the most accurate. Marginal notes and comments are numerous in all of the old translations, but most of them have disappeared from our present English version. It is well to keep in mind that the Hebrew word for the soul is nephesh and the Greek word psyche. The two words mean the same thing, and the Greek word psyche is the only word in the New Testament which is translated soul.
Now let us see wherein the Bible implies as well as expresses the doctrine that animals have souls. God in the beginning of time called into existence the heavens, the earth, and all things living and moving therein.
This entire creation was divided into a series of six periods, or epochs, in each of which a new life potency entered into what at that time existed, and called forth new developments which go on according to His law. In the sixth day or epoch, which was the last period of creation, God finished His work by creating all animal life. All animals, including man, were formed out of the earth. There was no distinction.
The same term, made, "bara," was used for both man and lower animals. There was no preference given to man over other animals as is usually claimed by modern theology. When God created the lower animals and mankind He included all in the same benediction and "blessed them" and pronounced them "very good."
And in this connection I wish to call attention to the fact that man and lower animals had provided for them the same kind of food, all of which was vegetable. There was no preying upon each other and no death, but all lived at peace as one great, happy family.
In the next chapter of Genesis, in again bringing up the subject of creation for the purpose of giving the history of the fall of man, the divine writer gives the "generation" or history by repeating the same method, that man and lower animals were formed out of the earth.
Here, for the first and only time, the particular manner of how life was imparted was given in the case of Adam. The inspired writer says, "God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." As to what methods were used to impart life to the other animals and to Eve we are not informed. But to say that God used one way for lower animals, one for man and one for woman, when all were made of the same chemical constituents, would be contrary to any system of analogy known to reason. Any Bible student knows that there are many things understood which are not expressed throughout the entire Bible, therefore whatever is understood by the words, "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul," is implied, though it is not expressed, in the creation of all other forms of animal life. No animal could live without the breath of life, and as the divine writer said nothing about the manner of its being imparted, it must be assumed that God breathed into the animals and woman, the breath of life and they became living souls. Any other assumption would be illogical.
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In describing the creation of woman, nothing is said about the breath of life or a living soul. Now must we infer that she, like the lower animals, is denied a soul because the special manner of imparting life is not mentioned? And yet if you deny that animals have souls, because the mode in which they received them is not mentioned, you will certainly have to exclude women from having souls upon the same hypothesis, which has been done by some crude forms of religion. The Bible plainly infers that whatever process was involved in bestowing the breath of life in the case of Adam was followed with all other created beings. In reference to the flood, the inspired writer in Genesis 7: 21, 22, says: "All flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beasts, and of every creeping thing, and every man, all in whose nostrils was the breath of life."
I have so far used the English version in what I have said as to the soul. A few facts from older versions I will now mention in evidence.
It is acknowledged by all the best Greek and Hebrew scholars to-day that, in every passage of Scripture where the Hebrew word nephesh or the Greek word psyche is used, it should be translated soul, and when nephesh chayah is used it should be translated living soul. This is admitted by the marginal reading found in many old English Bibles. In Genesis 2: 7, when the divine writer speaks of Adam, the translation is correct, as it reads in the Hebrew, nephesh chayah, which translated into English means a living soul; but there are nine more passages in Genesis where the same Hebrew words are used, but as they refer to lower animals the true meaning has been perverted by the English translation.
We read: "God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath a living soul." The Hebrew text reads nephesh, soul, and chayah, living, and the English version has it "life," but on the margin of many Bibles "living soul."
Again we read, "And God created great whales and every living soul." Hebrew, nephesh chayah, the English version, "living creature." Again we read, "And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living soul after its kind, cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth." This is the proper reading, but the English version has it "living creature."
I will call your attention to one more passage in this connection: "To every beast of the earth and to every fowl of the air and to everything that creepeth upon the earth wherein there is a living soul."
The Hebrew text is given in plain words nephesh chayah. The English version gives it "life," but in many Bibles in the marginal reading it is rendered "a living soul." I have before me a Bible published in 1867 by the American Bible Society, which gives in the margin the words "living soul" in this last, and two more similar passages. I recently examined a large number of Bibles in a repository and continued my researches until I found one hundred giving the words "living soul" in the margin where the word "life" is used in the text of the English version.
Rev. Dr. Bush, in his commentary on Genesis, makes the following plain statement: "The phrase 'living soul' is repeatedly applied to the inferior order of animals. It would seem to mean the same when spoken of man that it does when spoken of beasts, viz., an animated being, a creature possessed of life and sensation, and capable of performing all the physical functions by which life is distinguished, and we find no terms in the Bible to distinguish the intellectual faculties of man from the brute creation."
I will call the reader's attention to two more passages wherein the word soul is translated as it should be. In Numbers 31: 28, God said, "Levy a tribute unto the Lord, one soul of five hundred, both of the persons, and of the beeves and of the asses and of the sheep." In Revelations 16: 3, we find these words: "Every living soul died in the sea."
It would be useless to continue these quotations as the reader can see that, if I am correct, the Bible, without the shadow of a doubt, recognizes that animals have living souls the same as man.
Most of the quotations given are represented as having been spoken by the Creator Himself and He certainly knows whether or not He gave to man and lower animals alike a living soul, which of course means an immortal soul, as there cannot be a living soul without its being immortal.
In determining the meaning of the Bible, we should rest our belief, not on what man would have us believe, but on what God would have us believe. If God, in His revealed word, had intended to convey the idea that man was created immortal and animals were not, He certainly would not have made a plain statement that all were created alike.
Comparative psychology is opening up a wonderful field for scientific research, and we are learning to know God's purposes through nature as well as revelation. All animal life is formed upon one common general law, and shows conclusively that if man is a dual being, composed of matter and mind, or body and soul, so are all other animals. If God created one and imparted to it the breath of life and an immortal soul, He made all others on the same plan; for it is obvious that there is that same visible difference between matter and mind in all living beings.
The vital principle which sets in motion the functions of the organism producing thoughts, feelings, sensation, and motion, differs from that which builds up the physical organization. It is common to all sensitive and perceptive living beings, to both man and lower animals, and though the word soul goes under various names, it was used by the inspired writer to convey the idea of a living principle.
The body does not consist merely of matter, of which it may be composed at any given moment, and which is constantly changing, but of that immortal vital energy which can no more die than the immaterial substance known as gravitation, cohesion, or affinity.
We have no evidence on which to affirm that existence once imparted ever has been, or ever will be, absolutely annihilated. It may undergo prodigious changes; its combinations may be dissolved, its elements scattered; it may be released from the obligations of one set of laws, and be subject to another totally different; organization may be destroyed, and its component parts broken into a thousand fragments; life may be extinguished; the body may utterly perish; and yet there is no annihilation of the life potency or soul.
Certainly, to reduce any substance into nothing requires just the same power as to convert nothing into something. The Creator, who called all existence into being, could annihilate it all, or any portion of it, just as easily as He gave it birth. Man and lower animals are not immortal from choice but because that beneficent Being who created them has willed that they shall be so. They cannot cease to be because God resolves to uphold them in an eternal existence.
Socrates admitted the immortality of all animal life, and maintained that "the bodies of men and beasts are warm and living as long as they breathe, and as soon as the breath leaves the body, not only do warmth and motion cease, but the body begins to decay. Life, therefore, is breath, and breath is air, and as air is eternal and inseparable in its very nature, therefore the soul or portion of air which gave animation to the body will not perish at the dissolution of the body." Elihu conveys the same idea when he says: "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." Therefore if the breath which inflated Adam's nostrils was a particle of Divine essence which imparted immortality to man, then we must conclude that all other animals have the same kind of immortality, for they received the same kind of breath.
As Solomon says of man and the lower animals, "They have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast."
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