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Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible (Studies in Theological Interpretation) Paperback – July 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Few biblical interpreters have delved as deeply into the science of the human brain as Joel Green. Here he draws upon that learning in conversation with Scripture to put forth a fresh picture of human existence, one that makes sense from both perspectives. He does not shy away from hard questions, especially those about life and death, body and soul."--Patrick D. Miller, Princeton Theological Seminary

"If you think nothing new ever happens in theology or biblical studies, you need to read this book, an essay in 'neuro-hermeneutics.' Green shows not only that a physicalist (as opposed to a dualist) anthropology is consistent with biblical teaching but also that contemporary neuroscience sheds light on significant hermeneutical and theological questions."--Nancey Murphy, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Joel Green serves as the vanguard of interdisciplinary research on this topic. No one combines the requisite background in theology, biblical studies, and the natural sciences as adeptly as Green, and with the critical thinking needed to move along the interstices of these disciplines. Indeed, he succeeds at closing the gaps between these disciplines. This 'progress report' is another timely and welcome contribution from Professor Green."--Bill T. Arnold, Asbury Theological Seminary

"In this outstanding work, the author provides a scholarly and thoroughly biblical analysis of human personhood in dialogue with the neurosciences. This book is likely to provide the definitive overview of this topic for many years to come."--Denis R. Alexander, director, The Faraday Institute, St. Edmund's College

"Some are students of the Bible. Others are students of neuroscience. Joel Green is both and more. In Body, Soul, and Human Life, he helps us listen more attentively both to the Bible and to the unfolding music of the neurosciences. What you hear may surprise you. Far from telling different and irreconcilable stories about human nature, Joel Green helps us to see that these two sources--the Bible and the neurosciences--actually tell mutually enriching and complementary stories about what it means to be fully human and fully alive. I heartily recommend it!"--Kevin Corcoran, Calvin College

About the Author

Joel B. Green (Ph.D., University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament interpretation at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Prior to moving to Fuller, he taught at Asbury Theological Seminary for ten years, serving as vice president of academic affairs and provost in recent years. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, Introducing the New Testament, and commentaries on Luke and 1 Peter.
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Product Details

  • Series: Studies in Theological Interpretation
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (July 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801035953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801035951
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Phil Heaps on February 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book addresses the knotty issue of the relationship between brain, mind and soul. It seeks to present the Bible's teaching on `what a human being is' in the light of the neurosciences (brain biology, psychology etc.) Is the `real me' my soul? Green rightly rejects this popular approach as incompatible with both science and Scripture. On the one hand, thinking and behaviour is inextricably tied to brain state, which is undeniably physical. On the other hand, Scripture presents human persons as a unified whole - demonstrated climactically in God's commitment to bodily resurrection, rather than `souls going to heaven'. Along the way Green considers the issues of [1] humankind in God's image - in terms of role/relationship rather than `we have a soul, animals don't'; [2] sin, freedom and moral responsibility - given that physical/brain factors at the subconscious level profoundly influence our choices and actions; [3] conversion - not something that happens to our souls, but a new framework of understanding, vitally tied to integration into the community of God's people; and [4] the intermediate state - where Green denies personal independent existence after death, claiming rather that God recreates us at the final resurrection. Green locates personal identity in the `embodiedness' of our lives, in our relationships (primarily with God, but also vitally with others), and in the overarching story by which we understand ourselves and our world. This rightly critiques the modern tendency to locate personhood in the `inner person's independent, self-contained autonomy. Green intermingles neuroscientific research conclusions with philosophical reflection and exegesis of key Biblical passages.Read more ›
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Without question, Green's book is a key source when considering a robust biblical anthropology. Although one may not align with the thesis of Christian physicalism (that humans are made up of one integrated whole), readers will surely be informed by the depth of analysis and the even-handed treatment he offers in relation to the alternative view of Christian dualism -- the notion that humans are made up of two ontologically distinct parts, material and immaterial or body and soul.

One section in the book that especially intrigued me involved the mechanics and nature of change or personal transformation; namely, "persons and not parts of persons" are transformed (p 115). Green would likely put forth that when persons experience change, the brain changes and vice versa. This is not to reduce persons to mere brain states, neurons, or what have you, but it is to say that brains are involved and indeed impacted by behavior and vice versa. Persons are units or one integrated whole, not merely a composite of blended though distinct parts, thus change or transformation affects and effects the whole person.

Illustrating that "neural transformation in response to environmental factors" intersect, he appeals to the now famous and fascinating study of the London taxi-drivers to show that "day-to-day activities induce changes in the morphology of the brain" (p 116). This factor alone has been teased out in relation to spiritual transformation by the formidable N. T. Wright (see my "<a href="http://inchristus.com/2013/08/07/habituation-and-life-in-the-spirit/">Habituation and Life in the Spirit</a>").

Not only does the brain participate in our transformation but so also does our social conditioning have a significant impact.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
An excellent review and fresh perspective on life, death, creation and science; showing the coherence of all perspectives. Uniquely qualified as a neuroscientist as well as a solid Biblical scholar, Joel Green rethinks the Biblical references to the meanings of life and death. He clarifies particularly the state of the dead-in-Christ; reinterpreting, in the light of modern linguistic understandings, the references to the relationship of body and soul (unity) and their unlikely separation in death. He also describes thoughts on the immortal body of Jesus and the significance of resurrection into a new body. Excellent science and theology in harmony.
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accessible. readable. anyone interested in neuroscience, neurobiology, theology and the question of human identity and the possibility of bodily resurrection should read this book.
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By pifer on December 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book brings into light some very interesting points about the body, the soul, and what happens when we die.
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