Barry Newman's Blog

December 11, 2009

The Soul (part V)

Filed under: nephesh,psuche,The Soul — barrynewman @ 10:45 pm

Now to return to our investigation of “Soul”.

Psuche in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) of the Old Testament

Table 2 indicates to what extent the LXX uses psuche as a replacement for nephesh.  The first percentage is based on a total of 754 and the second on a total of 737.  The latter total takes into account the seventeen occurrences where the Hebrew text is absent from the Greek text.

Matter in the Greek text in the place of  nephesh of  the Hebrew text Number of Occurrences % of all instances in the Hebrew (% of instances present in the Greek)
Textual material absent from the Greek text     17     2.3 (not applicable)
Psuche 675  89.5 (91.6)
No Greek word but meaning similar     29     3.8 (3.9)
Other Greek words and meaning similar     20     2.7 (2.7)
Texts contain different understandings     13     1.7 (1.8)

                                                                                       Table 2

Of the twenty instances where an alternative to psuche was used, one word was used five times, another four, with all other alternatives being used only once or twice. Psuche in the LXX is the main word that replaces nephesh in the Hebrew text and therefore the most likely word one should examine in the Greek text of the New Testament.

The frequency with which the textual material containing nephesh is absent from the LXX (17 x) together with the extent to which the LXX has a different understanding to the Massoretic text (13 x) could be considered a crude measure of the degree to which the LXX and the Massoretic text differ.  The total of 30 instances constitues 4% of the 754 instances of nephesh in the Massoretic text, that is, giving the crude measure of a 4% difference between the two texts.  It will be interesting to see to what extent this type of difference is evident in the examination of “heart” and spirit” in later work.

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