Body, Soul, and Human Life 2
The second part of my review of Joel Green’s Body, Soul, and Human Life gives a quick summary of the books main arguments. Let me know what you think in the comments.
Having established his basic framework for understanding humanity, Green then turns his attention to three areas of convergence between neuroscience and biblical hermeneutics that support and explain his position. First, Green considers human free will. Looking to the sciences, he argues that human behavior is constrained by physical, psychological, and environmental factors, among others, making it impossible for us to have ‘free will’ in the popular sense. He finds a similar picture in the biblical portrayal of sin as a power that traps and shapes human persons such that they are unable to act ‘freely’. Green points to a similar convergence in how we should understand salvation. In possibly the most novel contribution of the book, Green looks at the nature of conversion, salvation, and sanctification, arguing that all three must be viewed, both scientifically and biblically, as embodied realities. Green takes us on a quick tour of the neurophysiology of change in the human brain before showing how the conversion narratives of Luke/Acts emphasize the embodied nature of Christian salvation. The third convergence addresses how we understand the resurrection. Here Green argues that neither the Old nor New Testaments should be understood as teaching that there is an intermediate, disembodied state that occurs between death and resurrection. Instead, both affirm that humans are physical beings who cease to exist at death and are raised to new life in the future with no conscious awareness of any intervening time. Continuous personal identity (i.e. what establishes that it really is me who is raised in the future) is grounded in narrative and relationship, rather than the continuous existence of an immaterial soul.