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Soul sleep' is a belief that the soul sleeps unconsciously between the death of the body and its resurrection on Judgment Day. Soul sleep is also known as psychopannychism (from Greek psyche (soul, mind) + pannuchizein (to last the night)).

A similar belief is thnetopsychism (from Greek thnetos (mortal) + psyche (soul, mind)), the view that the soul dies with the body to be recalled to life at the resurrection of the dead, or that the soul is not separate from the body and so there is no "spiritual" self to survive bodily death.

In both cases, the deceased does not begin to enjoy a reward or suffer a punishment until Judgment Day.

The more common Christian belief about the intermediate state between death and Judgment Day is particular judgment, that the soul is judged at death. In Roman Catholicism, the soul is judged to go to heaven or hell immediately after death, a belief also held by most Protestants. In Catholicism some temporarily stay in purgatory to be purified for heaven. In Eastern Orthodoxy, the soul waits in the abode of the dead until the resurrection of the dead, the saved resting in light and the damned suffering in darkness. This Eastern Orthodox picture of particular judgment is similar to the 1st-century Jewish and early Christian concept that the dead either "rest in peace" in the Bosom of Abraham or suffer in Hades. This view was also promoted by John Calvin in his treatise attacking soul sleep.

Soul sleep was promoted by some Reformation as well as some minor Protestant denominations.


Famous historical psychopannychites and thnetopsychists have included:
  • William Tyndale (1484-1536), Englishmarker Bible translator
    • "And ye, in putting them [the departed souls] in heaven, hell and purgatory, destroy the arguments wherewith Christ and Paul prove the resurrection...And again, if the souls be in heaven, tell me why they be not in as good a case as the angels be? And then what cause is there of the resurrection?"—William Tyndale, An Answer to Sir Thomas More's Dialogue (1530)
  • Martin Luther (1493-1546), Germanmarker reformer and Bible translator
    • "Salomon judgeth that the dead are a sleepe, and feele nothing at all. For the dead lye there accompting neyther dayes nor yeares, but when they are awoken, they shall seeme to have slept scarce one minute."—Martin Luther, An Exposition of Salomon's Booke, called Ecclesiastes or the Preacher (translation 1573)
    • "It is certain that to this day Abraham is serving God, just as Abel, Noah are serving God. And this we should carefully note; for it is divine truth that Abraham is living, serving God, and ruling with Him. But what sort of life that may be, whether he is asleep or awake, is another question. How the soul is resting we are not to know, but it is certain that it is living."
    • "But the soul does not sleep in the same manner (like a person on earth.) It is awake. It experiences visions and the discourses of the angels and of God. Therefore the sleep in the future life is deeper than it is in this life. Nevertheless, the soul lives before God."
  • John Milton (1608-1674), English poet and Latin secretary to Oliver Cromwell
    • "Inasmuch then as the whole man is uniformly said to consist of body, and soul (whatever may be the distinct provinces assigned to these divisions), I will show, that in death, first, the whole man, and secondly, each component part, suffers privation of life...The grave is the common guardian of all till the day of judgment."—John Milton, De Doctrina Christiana (never published)

Present-day defenders of these doctrines include the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, the Church of God , the Church of God Abrahamic Faith, and various other Church of God organizations including most Related Denominations which adhered to the older teachings of the Worldwide Church of God. Some authorities within Conservative Judaism, notably Neil Gillman, also support the notion that the souls of the dead are unconscious until the Resurrection.


Opponents of psychopannychism and thnetopsychism include the Roman Catholic Church, most mainline Protestant denominations, and some conservative Protestants, Evangelicals, and Fundamentalists. The Roman Catholic Church has called soul "mortality" a serious heresy:

Whereas some have dared to assert concerning the nature of the reasonable soul that it is mortal, we, with the approbation of the sacred council do condemn and reprobate all those who assert that the intellectual soul is mortal, seeing, according to the canon of Pope Clement V, that the soul is [...] immortal [...] and we decree that all who adhere to like erroneous assertions shall be shunned and punished as heretics.
Fifth Council of the Lateran (1513)

Calvinism and Eastern Orthodoxy both affirm a conscious interim state, and both deny that the interim state of rest or suffering is the final state of 'heaven' or 'hell'.
  • John Calvin
    • "As long as (the soul) is in the body it exerts its own powers; but when it quits this prison-house it returns to God, whose presence, it meanwhile enjoys while it rests in the hope of a blessed Resurrection. This rest is its paradise. On the other hand, the spirit of the reprobate, while it waits for the dreadful judgment, is tortured by that anticipation. . ."

Contemporary opponents include Millard Erickson.

Supporting Bible verses

Supporters of these doctrines claim that biblical support is given by both the Old and New Testaments:
  • Genesis 2:7. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Body (form) + Breath of life/God (nâphach /puff) = a living being, or Soul (Hebrew נפש nephesh)

  • Genesis 3:19. "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou returnest unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

  • Genesis 18:27-28. "27And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, which am but dust and ashes: "

  • 2 Samuel 7:12 "And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom."

  • Job 3:17. "There [the grave] the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest."

  • 1 Kings 2:10. "10So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David."

  • 1 Kings 11:21. "21And when Hadad heard in Egypt that David slept with his fathers,"

  • 1 Kings 11:43. "43And Solomon slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David his father:"

  • 1 Kings 14:20. "20And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers"

  • 1 Kings 14:31. "31And Rehoboam slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David."

  • 1 Kings 15:8. "8And Abijam slept with his fathers; and they buried him in the city of David:"

  • 1 Kings 15:24. "24And Asa slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father:"

  • 1 Kings 16:6. "6So Baasha slept with his fathers, and was buried in Tirzah:"

  • 1 Kings 16:28. "28So Omri slept with his fathers, and was buried in Samaria:"

  • 1 Kings 22:40. "40So Ahab slept with his fathers;"

  • 1 Kings 22:50. "50And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father:"

  • 2 Kings 8:24. "24And Joram slept with his fathers, and was buried with his fathers in the city of David:"

  • 2 Kings 10:35. "35And Jehu slept with his fathers: and they buried him in Samaria."

  • 2 Kings 13:9. "9And Jehoahaz slept with his fathers; and they buried him in Samaria:"

  • 2 Kings 14:22. "22He built Elath, and restored it to Judah, after that the king slept with his fathers."

  • 2 Kings 14:29. "29And Jeroboam slept with his fathers, even with the kings of Israel;"

  • 2 Kings 15:7. "7So Azariah slept with his fathers; and they buried him with his fathers in the city of David:"

  • 2 Kings 15:22. "22And Menahem slept with his fathers;"

  • Job 4:17. "17Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?"

  • Job 7:21 "And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away my iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be."

  • Job 7:10. "10He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more."

  • Job 14:10-12. "10But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 11As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: 12So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep."

  • Job 19:25-28. "25For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: 27Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me."

  • Job 34:14-16. "14If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; 15All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust."

  • Psalms 6:5. "For in death there is no remembrance of thee:in the grave who shall give thee thanks?"

  • Psalm 13:3 "Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death;"

  • Psalm 90:5 "You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning-"

  • Psalms 146:3-4. "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whome there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish."

  • Ecclesiastes 3:19-20. "For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust and all turn to dust again."

  • Ecclesiastes 9:4-6,10. "For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing [....] Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished [...] Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest."

  • Isaiah 14:18 "All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, everyone in his own house."

  • Isaiah 26:19. "19Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."

  • Ezekiel 18:20."The soul that sinneth, it shall die."

  • Daniel 12:2 "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."

  • Daniel 12:13 "But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."

  • Matthew 9:24-27. "24He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. 25But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. "

  • Matthew 16:27. "27For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. 31When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. 34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:"

  • Matthew 27:51-55. "51And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, "

  • Luke 8:52, 53 "Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. 'Stop wailing,' Jesus said. 'She is not dead but asleep.' They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead."

  • John 3:5, 6 "Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

  • John 3:13 "No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven."

  • John 5:28-30. "28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."

  • John 11:11-14. "These things said he [Jesus]: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead."

  • John 14:3 "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, [there] ye may be also."

  • John 20:17. "Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God."

  • Acts 2:29. "29Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day."

  • Acts 2:34 "For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand".

  • Acts 7:59-62. "59And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

  • Acts 13:36 "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption."

  • 1 Corinthians 15:16-50 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished [....] If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die. […] So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: [....] And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 "Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."

  • 2 Corinthians 4:7-5:4 "For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake [....] Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you [....] For which cause we faint not [...] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life."

  • James 2:26. "26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

  • Ephesians 5:14 "...for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: 'Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'"

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-16 "But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first".

  • Hebrews 9:27. "27And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:"

  • 1 Timothy 6:16 "who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen."

  • 2 Peter 3:4 "[...]for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation."

  • Revelation 20:4 "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Controversial Bible verses

  • Genesis 35:18 "And it came to pass, as her soul (nephesh) was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin." (This verse was used until Gesenius' time [c. 1850] as a proof that nephesh could also mean the immaterial part of man that survives after the death of the body. However, since the time of Brown, Driver and Briggs [c. 1900], this opinion has been abandoned among the scholars, as it evident by a comparison of the modern Hebrew lexicons and the modern Bible translations, which render nephesh as "breath" or "life". That is why the New Bible Dictionary states: "Usually the nepheš is regarded as departing at death (e.g. Gn. 35:18), but the word is never used for the spirit of the dead". The current scholarly opinion of the verse is reflected by the comments of The KJV Bible Commentary: "The phrase as her soul was in departing does not indicate that the soul was considered a separate entity from the body, with an existence of its own, but only that the life was departing".)

  • Ecclesiastes 12:5-7 "Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern.Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit (literally "wind") shall return unto God who gave it." (This verse is also not believed by many modern scholars to refer to an immortal soul.)

  • Matthew 22:23-33. "The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine."

  • Luke 16:19-31. "There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."

  • Luke 23:43. "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." The placement of the comma, however, not indicated in the Greek, can totally alter the meaning of this text. Hence: "I say unto thee today, you shall be with Me in paradise."
In contrast, some Christian Churches, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church, promote that there is an editorial question in this text. These churches believe that Jesus taught that death was a sleep of body and soul, thus body+soul=living human. Therefore the text in Luke 23:43 may read, "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise." Note the placement of the comma, and the redistribution of the words "shalt" and "thou".

  • Acts 7:59. "And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."

  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-10. "For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

  • Philippians 1:21-25. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith;"

  • 1 Peter 3:18-20. "For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water."

  • Revelation 6:9-11.“When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”(ESV)


  1. "Because some have a prevision of the glory to come and others foretaste their suffering, the state of waiting is called 'Particular Judgment'" ( What Are the Differences between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism?, 11
  2. "Several places in the New Testament we clearly find the notion that the dead are conscious, dwelling somewhere in the heavenly realms beyond, and awaiting, either in torment or comfort, the final judgment (Luke 16:19-31, 23:43; 1 Pet. 3:18-20; 4:6; Rev. 6:9-1 l; 7:9-12)." James Tabor [1]
  3. Quoted in E.M. Plass, What Luther Says, Vol. 1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1950. p. 385 and Harold A. Schewe: What Happens to the Soul after Death?
  4. J Pelikan, ed., Luther’s Works, Vol. 4. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1964. p. 313. Cf. Harold A. Schewe: What Happens to the Soul after Death?
  5. Gillman, Neil. The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought. Jewish Lights, 1997.
  6. John Calvin, Psychopannychia, @
  7. Millard Erickson, Christian Theology 2nd edn. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1183
  8. NETBible: Strong—05315
  9. NETBible: Strong—05315
  10. or "As she breathed her last," [2].
  11. Wood, D. R. W., & Marshall, I. H. 1996, c1982, c1962. New Bible Dictionary. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, p. 1124.
  12. Edward E. Hindson, Woodrow Michael Kroll. 1997, c1988. The KJV Bible Commentary. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, p. 88.
  13. The Hebrew word ruach means "wind," the breath of life that God breathed into Adam's nostrils. At death, this vital principle returns to its source. [3]
  14. "The note of death continues. The process described here is the reversal of Gen 2:7. The end of life is the dissolution (not annihilation; the Israelites never speculated how the “I” was in Sheol; cf. Eccl 9:10). Humans return to the dust (Gen 3:19) whence they came, while the life-breath given by God returns to its original possessor. This is a picture of dissolution, not of immortality, as if there were a reditus animae ad Deum, “the return of the soul to God.” There is no question of the “soul” here, but of the life-breath, a totally different category of thought. Hence there is no reason to deny this verse to Qoheleth. K. Galling, A. Lauha, and others argue that it must belong to a glossator because it contradicts 3:21, where Qoheleth denies the affirmation that the human רוּחַ rûah goes upward in contradistinction to the רוּחַ rûahi of animals. But the context of 3:21 is polemical. Some assert there is a difference between life-breath in humans and animals; Qoheleth’s query (“who knows?”) denies any qualitative difference. But he certainly shares with the rest of the OT that God is the owner and donor of life, i.e., the life-breath (Ps 104:29–30; Job 33:4; 34:15; see also Sir 40:11b, Hebrew text)". (Murphy, R. 2002. Word Biblical Commentary: Ecclesiates. Word, Incorporated: Dallas. 23:120). Similarly the Oxford Bible Commentary says: "In any case, v. 7 certainly concerns death, and seems to have in mind the ideas of Gen 2:7 and 3:19. The breath here is not a ‘spirit’, but the animating breath lent to humans for the duration of their lifetime".—Barton, J., & Muddiman, J. 2001. Oxford Bible commentary. Oxford University Press: New York.
  15. In Jewish tradition paradise was a place the just went to immediately after death, for example: "if thou acceptest God's judgment, by to-morrow thou wilt be united with me in Paradise" Samuel and Saul "The Legends of the Jews"
  16. "The Rabbis refer to the grave's "good department" as 'paradise', in other words, the Garden of Eden." "The Lord's Holy Communion" interpreted with rabbinical thought
  17. Cited by James Tabor [4]

Recommended resources

  • (English translation Theology of the New Testament 2 vols, London: SCM, 1952, 1955). The leading scholarly reference supporting a holistic anthropology (similar to soul sleep)
  • (English translation Man in the NT. London: Epworth, 1963)
  • More readable; supports holistic anthropology
  • Covers all major strands of psychopannychism and thnetopsychism in English Reformation and Revolution.


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