Moulton and Milligan in their /Vocabulary of the Greek Testament/ (pg 620) under "sozo" give /only/ temporal usages of the verb, of course including saving of the physical life (they even give an example where "psyche" is the object of "sozo"). There is not even one occurrence of a spiritual (let alone soteriological) usage of the word in all their findings.And this is where I have to put on the breaks. Listen – it’s one thing to use an interpretive grid to reinterpret almost two-dozen passages of the NT away from their meaning in context, but it is another altogether to do what is being done here.
BAGD (2nd Edition, 1958, pg 893), the standard Greek lexicon, gives the entries "of life on earth in its external, physical aspects" and "earthly life itself" for psyche (soul/life).
It would probably be fun to describe what has been done here because there are all kinds of adjectives which come to mind. But instead of resorting to that kind of argumentation, I’m going to link to two files:
A scan of the paper BDAG entry of “psuche”
The BibleWorks BDAG entry for “psuche”
These are both in PDF format, and an alert reader from Australia had the audacity to send them to me. They are provided here for reference sake.
Does what you find in those copies of the entry of “psuche” seems a little, um, different than what Antonio has here provided? For example, in the BibleWorks version, the main definition  says, “life on earth in its animating aspect making bodily function possible”; main  says, “seat and center of the inner human life in its many and varied aspects, soul”; main  says, “an entity w. personhood, person”. There’s no doubt section [1b] says, “the condition of being alive, earthly life, life itself”, but look at how that differs from what Antonio has provided.
How would you, the reader, describe that difference? How do you think Antonio would describe it if he believed someone else was doing it?
Of great interest in James is 1:21:I would agree with all of that, and also with the admonition that we ought to pay special attention to how Antonio pays attention to this verse – for example, does he treat it as a part of the whole body of what James has said to this point, or does he treat it like a verse we learn in AWANA which is disconnected from a context? Let’s find out.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls NKJV
This is the first instance of "sozo" in his epistle, and can give an indication of the type of "saving" he has in mind in the remainder.
We need to pay special attention to the phrase "save your souls".
It remains for scholars of historical theology to discern how this phrase ever became connected with the idea of deliverance from hell. It is never used that way in the Bible, and such an idea would have been foreign to any Jewish reader of the New Testament.Well, this assertion was dealt with last time, wasn’t it? You know: there are at least 3 fellows who, in the advent of the coming of Christ see the work of the Messiah as soteriological prior to Paul’s rantings and ravings about such things. And Jesus said, for example, that Abraham saw His day and was glad – so even Abraham had the soteriological view in sight.
The paper by Lopez is the one which history of theology scholars will have some fun with – because it represents such a broad, um, failure to perceive that one has to wonder how it got published in the first place. Something must be happening in some specific movement to cause it to promote such a view when there are historical facts which easily overturn the idea that the OT presses no soteriological value into the idea of God’s salvation.
Because the meaning is definitely established from other passages, there is no reason to abandon it in the Epistle of James, no reason except the interests of Perseverance theology. Here we have a case where the Traditionalist meaning "deliver from hell," is absolutely without parallel in biblical or extra-biblical literature, and yet it is accepted as the starting point for understanding the meaning in James.You know, as I was thinking about what I was going to write in this second-half response, I was pondering the value of the term Antonio uses here – “Traditionalist”. What does that word mean? It is supposed to be a pejorative label which says that somehow the advocates of the position Antonio is abhorring here are slaves of Tradition – that we only believe what we have been told to believe.
But let’s think about something here: it seems obvious to me – and I think to anyone who has read the PDFs, above – that the intervention of “Tradition” has not blinded the “Traditionalist” view but has in fact placed a blinder on the GES view. BDAG is unquestionably the primary lexical source Antonio ought to be using to make his case – but to use it at all, he has to, um, handle the BDAG entry for “psuche” in such a way that a significant part of it falls off. Then, having handled BDAG roughly, he has to elevate a piece of “scholarship” above the BDAG entry to cause the reader to think, “wow – everything I know is wrong”.
It is extraordinarily unlikely that everything you know is wrong. Moreover, one has to wonder why this argument was not the foundational argument in the Reformation rather than the 5 solas which actually did cause all the problems.
I’ll wear the badge of “traditionalist” proudly in this discussion because it turns out to be a case where tradition has something to say which is not merely traditional but based on evidence.
This phrase, "sozo" with "psyche" as its object ("save [your] souls"), is found eleven times in the Septuagint (LXX), */and in each case it has the notion of preserving one’s physical life./*The astute reader of this response will ask, “cent, why didn’t you just lump that part in with your previous part? My lunch is only 60 minutes, bro!”
It is unfortunate that most interpreters of James are either unaware of this data or dismiss it as irrelevant. Whenever linguistic evidence of this type is ignored, faulty interpretation is almost inevitable.
The answer is simple: this is really the high water mark of Antonio’s, um, scholarship – because this is where he puts all his blocks in one stack for the sake of making his point.
Let’s think about this: BDAG says something different than he does about “psuche”, and the context of James 1:21 has been deftly omitted. Then a source of at-best obscure value blankets the OT’s view of salvation as merely-temporal, and to back that up Antonio lays on his truncated lexical assertion.
That’s a lot to swallow.
In order to bring you back to this universe where the text exists, here’s what James 1:21 says in context:
- 12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. 18 Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.
19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.
21 Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
In that, whatever is happening in the “save your souls” is happening in the context of a soteriological statement about who we are and what will happen to us. It has nothing to do with an alleged misunderstanding of the Old Testament; it has nothing to do with a less-than-robust use of BDAG. It has everything to do with the fact that James is talking about the eternal consequences of faith in which we can have confidence today because of the immediate consequences of faith.
You can read all of Antonio’s notation on this passage as you see fit. He does not deal with this problem, and he does not overcome this problem.
- d.as the seat and center of life that transcends the earthly (Pla., Phd. 28, 80ab; Paus. 4, 32,[greek text] Just., A I, 44, 9 [greek text] Ath. 27, 2 [greek text] Opp. Tat. 13, 1, who argues the state of the [text] before the final judgment
and states that it is not immortal per se but experiences the fate of the body [greek text]. As such it can receive divine salvation [greek text] be saved,
you and your soul Agr 5 (Unknown Sayings 61-64). [greek text] Js 1:21.
Let us now give consideration to this most important phrase:I think that I can safely stipulate all of these OT passages. For the sake of argument, I stipulate that they all say what Antonio says. They are not relevant to the book of James or the use of the phrase in this passage.
*SOUL SALVATION – THE SAVING OF THE SOUL*
The following references are every occurrence of phrases consisting of the Greek verb "sozo" (= "to deliver, save") with the Greek noun "psyche" (= "life, soul") as its object found within the Koine Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, called the Septuagint (LXX).
*Septuagint References (with any English Parallels)*
(1) Genesis 19:17 (2) Genesis 32:31 (= English Genesis 32:30) (3) 1 Kings 19:11 (= English 1 Samuel 19:11) (4) Amos 2:14 (5) Amos 2:15 (6) Job 33:28 (7) Psalms 71:13 (= English Psalms 72:13) (8) Jeremiah 31:6 (= English Jeremiah 48:6) (9) Psalms of Solomon 17:17 (= English Psalms of Solomon 17:19) (10) Judith 10:15 (11) 1 Maccabbees 9:9
*Word Study of Every Occurrence of "sozo" with "psyche" as its object in the LXX*
(1) Genesis 19:17 σωζε την σεαυτου ψυχην "Save (sozo) the life (psyche) of yourself!"
Genesis 19:17 So it came to pass, when they had brought them outside, that he said," Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed." NKJV
The angels warned Lot and his family to flee from the temporal destruction of Sodom, so as to preserve their physical lives.
(2) Genesis 32:31 (= English Genesis 32:30) εσωθη μου η ψυχη "My life (psyche) was saved (sozo)."
Genesis 32:30 So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." NKJV
After wrestling with God, Jacob called the place of his pugilism with the Angel of the Lord (a theophany) Peniel (meaning face to face) for he had seen God face to face and yet he did not physically die.
(3) 1 Kings 19:11 (= English 1 Samuel 19:11) σωσης την ψυχην σαυτου "Save (sozo) your life (psyche)."
1 Samuel 19:11 Saul also sent messengers to David's house to watch him and to kill him in the morning. And Michal, David's wife, told him, saying, "If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed." NKJV
Michal, David’s wife, said he must flee or physically die in the morning, so she sent him out the window.
(4) Amos 2:14 σωση την ψυχην αυτου "…will save (sozo) his life (psyche)."
Amos 2:14 Therefore flight shall perish from the swift, The strong shall not strengthen his power, Nor shall the mighty deliver himself; NKJV
Discussing God’s coming temporal wrath on the Northern Tribes of Israel, the Lord, during the reign of Jereboam II, pronounces through Amos that not even the ‘strong’ or ‘mighty’ shall be able to deliver themselves from the coming temporal calamities due to their unrighteous activities (see Amos 2:6-8).
(5) Amos 2:15 σωση την ψυχην αυτου "…will save (sozo) his life (psyche)."
Amos 2:15 He shall not stand who handles the bow, The swift of foot shall not escape, Nor shall he who rides a horse deliver himself. NKJV
Continuing from verse 14, The Lord, through Amos, relates that not even the fighting men of valor shall escape His judgment. See also note on Amos 2:14.
(6) Job 33:28 σωσον ψυχην μου "He will save (sozo) my life (psyche)"
Job 33:28 'He has redeemed my soul from going to the pit, And my life shall see the light.' NASB
In Elihu’s poetic and spirited speech to Job, Elihu relates that the man who repents, saying, "I have sinned, and perverted what is right, and it did not profit me" (Job 33:27) will be saved from the destructive principles of his sin. In both Job 33:18 and 33:22, we see that one’s experience with the "pit" is paralleled (remember that this is poetic parallelism) with physical death: "perishing by the sword" (v 18) and "draw[ing] near to the executioners" (v 22). "Pit" is used here figuratively, a euphemism, for the "grave," implying one’s bodily death (see any Hebrew lexicon for "shachath," Strongs #7845). See Psalms 30:9 and 55:23 for more substantiation on the figurative use of "pit" describing physical death. "Going down to the pit", the result of unrighteousness, is also contrasted with "flesh" being like a "child’s" (Job 33:25a) and a man returning unto "the days of his youth" (Job 33:25b). Also, cross-reference "see[ing] the light" of Job 33:28 (the result of one’s life being saved from death, the grave) and "be[ing] enlightened with the light of life" of Job 33:30 (the result of one’s life being turned from death, the grave). This is the result of the man’s repentance! Whereas unrighteous activity will bring one to death (see Proverbial literature after this word study), repentance will avert death and bring a meaningful life: "the light of life". Elihu’s rich and prosaic language should not be misunderstood! He is speaking to Job who is in the middle of a temporal and physical tragedy. Job’s friends believe that his physical infirmities are a result of his sin, and that he needs to repent so as to avert his temporal/physical demise.
(7) Psalms 71:13 (= English Psalms 72:13) και ψυχας πενητων σωσει "…and He shall save (sozo) [the] lives (psyche) of [the] needy."
Psalms 72:13 He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy [H]e will save. NASB
Speaking of the Messiah, Solomon states that in His earthly reign that He will save from death the lives of the needy. Speaking of the same group of needy people, Solomon continues, "He will rescue their life from oppression and violence; And their blood will be precious in his sight" (Psalms 72:14).
(8) Jeremiah 31:6 (= English Jeremiah 48:6) σωσατε τας ψυχας υμων "Save (sozo) your lives (psyche)!"
Jeremiah 48:6 "Flee, save your lives! And be like the juniper in the wilderness." NKJV
The Lord, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, speaks of the coming judgment on Moab, telling them to save their lives by fleeing, becoming like the juniper that "ekes out its stunted growth in the wilderness, hiding in crevices of rock" (Notes in the Nelson Study Bible, pg 1305).
(9) Psalms of Solomon 17:17 (= English Psalms of Solomon 17:19) σωθηναι ψυχας αυτων "To save (sozo) their lives (psyche)"
Psalms of Solomon 17:19 They wandered in deserts that their lives might be saved from harm, And precious in the eyes of them that lived abroad was any that escaped alive from them. Gray Translation, 1913
The writer of this Apocryphal book is speaking of righteous Jews who escaped from the hands of idolatrous Jews and pagans.
(10) Judith 10:15 σεσωκας την ψυχην σου "You have saved (sozo) your life (psyche)."
Judith 10:15 Thou hast saved thy life, in that thou hast hasted to come down to the presence of our lord: now therefore come to his tent, and some of us shall conduct thee, until they have delivered thee to his hands. KJV
Assyrian soldiers confronted Judith and because of her beauty and message they did not kill her, her message saved her life: "Now when the men heard her words, and beheld her countenance, they wondered greatly at her beauty, and said unto her" (Judith 10:14).
(11) 1 Maccabees 9:9 σωζωμεν τας εαυτων ψυχας "We should save (sozo) our lives (psyche)."
1 Maccabees 9:9 But they dehorted him, saying, We shall never be able: let us now rather save our lives, and hereafter we will return with our brethren, and fight against them: for we are but few. KJV
Judas Maccabbee has just exhorted the remnant of his army to go out in battle. Their reply was that they needed to flee so as to preserve their lives, regroup with their comrades, and then go fight. ----------
Moulton and Milligan, furthermore, (op. cit. pg 698) show that in the papyrii evidence (the Koine literature of the time) that the phrase "save a soul" continues to mean "save the physical life" (see section I.(b)). And they give examples on how psyche (soul) can mean physical life as well.
Conclusion:I leave it to the reader who has done lexical research and who has done something else. The relevant lexical data is available to review, above, and the context has also been reviewed, above. There’s no reason to qualify my rejection of his points with anything more than the firm assertion that he doesn’t even get the facts complete to make his point.
The sense of "saving the life" for ‘sozo’ and its object ‘psyche’ had become a bona-fide idiomatic expression in the Koine Greek. There are no biblical examples (and Moulton and Milligan, in their study of the existent papyrii evidence found no examples either) for the sense "deliverance from hell" for the aforementioned phrase.
Lordship Salvation and Reformed Soteriologists have not been careful to do the lexical research necessary to come to a solid interpretation, and have imported the present day understanding of "save the soul" into the text of James for support of their insupportable doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. They have imported their Perseverance theology into James destroying the practical and pastoral emphasis of the epistle.
Powerful evidence has been adduced to support the interpretation that James is discussing practical and temporal deliverance from calamitous trials, tribulations, and circumstances, including the physical death-dealing consequences of sin.
It is high time for a re-evaluation of the Epistle of James, and the linguistical study provided, should be a starting point.
Blessings and peace to all who endure in trials, being doers of the word, unto the preservation of their lives.
Antonio da Rosa
Thanks for reading, and we’ll get back to normal blogging as soon as the buzzing gets out of my ears ...