This site is dedicated to the study of the biblical doctrine of man, especially as it relates to the issue of human nature as spirit, soul and body. This view is known as holistic trichotomy. Man is one (in personhood) with two separable parts (material and immaterial), yet with three distinguishable parts (spirit, soul, and body). An accurate, balanced understanding of man’s makeup has important implications for the Christian faith and life.

This topic is explored in detail in the book, Man as Spirit, Soul, and Body, as well as volumes listed on the Ebooks page.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23,24).

We are using “biblical psychology” to refer, not to contemporary psychology, but in its fundamental sense–the study of the soul. The Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology  (1901) gives this classic definition:

Biblical Psychology: Ger. biblische Psychologie; Fr. psychologie biblique; Ital. psicologia biblica. An integral portion of theological anthropology. It consists essentially of a discussion of man’s entire constitution on the basis of Scripture declarations. Two main problems occur in it: (1) Is man composed of spirit (pneuma), soul (psuche), and body? — or (2) Is he composed of soul and body?

The Greek Fathers, taken as a whole, adopted the former view; while the Latin Fathers, thanks partly to the emergence of Gnostic and other heresies, and partly to the poverty of the Latin language (spiritus and anima hardly conveying the sense of the Greek terms), tended to the latter view, or to a discreet silence. In the course of history, Biblical psychology has been rather elbowed out by dogmatics in the Western Church. The mystics raise the question of pnenma and ynch once more; and during the last 150 years more attention has been paid to it, especially in Germany, though systematic works are few.

Literature: MELANCHTHON, Liber de Anima (1552); SERVETUS, Christianismi Restitutio (1553); JACOB B…HME, De Triplici Vita (1620); BONNET, PalingŽnŽsie philos. (1767); J. F. v. MEYER, BlŠtter f. hšhere Wahrheit (1818-32); OLSHAUSEN, Opuscula (cir. 1825); H. SCHUBERT, Gesch. d. Seele (1830); K. F. G…SCHEL, Von d. Beweisen d. Unsterblichkeit d. menschl. Seele (1835); T. J. VAN GRIETHUYZEN, Diss de notion. vocab. swma et sarx (1846); M. F. Roos, Fundamenta Psychol. Sacrae (1857); J. FROSCHAMMER, Ueber d. Ursprung d. menschl. Seele (1854); H. SCHULTZ, Die Voraussetzungen d. christl. Lehre v. d. Unsterblichkeit (1861). More recent works are: RUDLOFF, Lehre v. Menschen; BECK, Umriss d. bibl. Seelenlehre (Eng. trans.); FRANZ DELITZSCH, Syst. d. bibl. Psychol. (Eng. trans.); I. TAYLOR, Physical Theory of Another Life; J. B. HEARD, The Tripartite Nature of Man; BISHOP ELLICOTT, Destiny of the Creature; J. LAIDLAW, Bible Doctrine of Man. See, too, art. Geist in Herzog’s Real-Encyc.; HOEKSTRA, in Jaarb. f. w. Th., vii; VAN DEN HAM, ibid., v; LOTZE, Microcosmus, Bks. II, III, V (Eng. trans.). (R.M.W.)

by James Mark Baldwin

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