[b-hebrew] Translation theory and NP$

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Tue Jul 14 03:17:10 EDT 2009

Dear Bryant,

I have the following comments:

In Exodus 3:6 YHWH says that "he is" the God of Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob." The clause is nominal without any verb. But it is logical 
that the reference is present. In Luke 20:37-38, Jesus quotes these 
words and takes them as evidence of the very opposite of an immortal 
soul, namely, as evidence of a resurrection. Paul says in 1 
Corinthians 15:53 that immortality is something the one resurrected 
will "put on/be clothed with" at the resurrection, and not something 
that the person already has. Please note the dative form of AUTOS in 
Luke 20:38, which indicates that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not 
already live, but they lived from the standpoint of God-they would 
certainly get a resurrection!

I cannot see any suggestion of an immortal soul in Job 19:25-27. But 
the words of Job could imply that he had some idea of a future life. 
Please note that he expected to see God "in my flesh," and not as an 
immortal soul.

Interestingly, the Akkadian cognate word napi$tu has the same meaning 
and references as the Hebrew NP$. It does not refer to an immortal 
soul or spirit. The Babylonians believed in a netherworld (c.f. the 
account "Isthar's descent to the Netherworld"), and they also 
believed  in ghosts (spirits of the dead). But that was expressed by 
E+EMMU, that also could refer to a necromancer. The Hebrew cognate 
)++YM evidently refers to a necromancer. To study NP$ is a dead end 
as far as immortality is concerned. But in order to get a better 
understanding of the view of death in the Tanakh, the words )++YM and 
RP) can be studied. But you will neither find a netherworld or an 
immortal soul in connection with these words either - provided that 
you are not surfing on the surface but make an in depth study. And a 
word of caution: Do not rely on the meanings given in the lexicons, 
but make a careful study of the texts! And when you consider the 
Ugaritic evidence regarding RP), you should not fail to look up RP) 
in R. L. Harris et al. "Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament". 
there you will find some interesting information.

The first time I found a cognate of NP$ in the sense "immortal soul" 
in a Semitic text, was in the Ethiopic Enoch, where NAFS evidently 
has this meaning. In the second part of the fourth century B.C.E. 
when Alexander the great made his conquests, Greek religion and 
philosophy were spread across the Old world. And the Greek idea of an 
immortal soul was also accepted by many of those living in Judah. But 
in their scriptures - The Tanakh - you will not find such an idea.

Bet regards,

Rolf Furuli
University of oslo

>Dear Rolf,
>The only disadvantage I can see, is that many
>people combine immortality with it (an immortal soul), a concept that
>is completely foreign to the Tanakh.
>How do account for
>Exodus 3:6; Job 19:25-27 which seems to imply otherwise.
>Rev. Bryant J. Williams III
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Rolf Furuli" <furuli at online.no>
>To: <b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org>
>Sent: Monday, July 13, 2009 8:42 AM
>Subject: Re: [b-hebrew] Translation theory and NP$

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