[Milton-L] Distinction between Spirit and Soul (Was "Crucial punctuation in The Book of Common Prayer")

James Rovira jamesrovira at gmail.com
Sun Sep 16 20:42:50 EDT 2007

Just for the sake of detail, Origen's _On First Principles_, the
chapter on "How the Divine Scriptures Should Be Read and Interpreted,"
uses the threefold nature of the self to describe three levels of
Biblical interpretation: the "flesh" of interpretation, associated
with a literal reading of the text, the "soul" of interpretation
which, so far as I can tell, he equates with readings that derive
moral principles from Scripture, and the "spirit" of interpretation,
the highest level which accesses heavenly realities (Christian
neo-Platonism at work here).

This work can be found online, but most versions are English
translations of Rufinius's Latin translation of Origen, which added a
great deal to Origen's text and muddied it, in my opinion.  A
translation of the Greek is to be preferred if you can find it.

Kierkegaard (Haufniensis) in _The Concept of Anxiety_ (1844) also
works with a distinction between the physical, the psychical, and the
pneumatic in a complex way (of course...gad) accounting for our
experience of time, anxiety, boredom, etc. (almost an outline for
Heidegger's early books).  The important thing about the threefold
nature of the self in Kierkegaard is that the self is relational, not
only externally but internally, so the self can relate to itself any
number of ways creating any number of dysfunctions.  In this work
Kierkegaard's pseudonym affirms that his goal is to think as Plato and
Socrates would have thought had they been Christians, so again the
tripartite self is identified with forms of Christian thought
inflected by Platonism.

Kierkegaard associates spirit with will and the psychical with, I
think, the emotional and the rational.  Origen probably associates the
spiritual with the rational and certainly with a species of perception
similar to that described in the Republic bk. VII.

Jim R

On 9/16/07, Mike Streeter <mike.streeter at americanidea.org> wrote:
> Well, in any case, now we have one more perspective represented in our list.
>  I'll also repeat my advice that Dr. Fallon's book gives us some answers
> here in regards to Milton's (dynamic) take on spirit, soul and body. -MS

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