In the Bible, “soul” is translated from the Hebrew ne′phesh and the Greek psy‧khe′. Bible usage shows the soul to be a person or an animal or the life that a person or an animal enjoys. To many persons, however, “soul” means the immaterial or spirit part of a human being that survives the death of the physical body. Others understand it to be the principle of life. But these latter views are not Bible teachings.
The scripture that you used is correct. (Gen. 2:7): “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.” (Notice that this does not say that man was given a soul but that he became a soul, a living person.) (The part of the Hebrew word here rendered “soul” is ne′phesh. KJ, AS, and Dy agree with that rendering. RS, JB, NAB read “being.” NE says “creature.” Kx reads “person.”)
1 Cor. 15:45: “It is even so written: ‘The first man Adam became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” (So the Christian Greek Scriptures agree with the Hebrew Scriptures as to what the soul is.) (The Greek word here translated “soul” is the accusative case of psy‧khe′. KJ, AS, Dy, JB, NAB, and Kx also read “soul.” RS, NE, and TEV say “being.”)
1 Pet. 3:20: “In Noah’s days . . . a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water.” (The Greek word here translated “souls” is psy‧khai′, the plural form of psy‧khe′. KJ, AS, Dy, and Kx also read “souls.” JB and TEV say “people”; RS, NE, and NAB use “persons.”)
Gen. 9:5: “Besides that, your blood of your souls [or, “lives”; Hebrew, from ne′phesh] shall I ask back.” (Here the soul is said to have blood.)
Josh. 11:11: “They went striking every soul [Hebrew, ne′phesh] that was in it with the edge of the sword.” (The soul is here shown to be something that can be touched by the sword, so these souls could not have been spirits.)
Where does the Bible say that animals are souls?
Gen. 1:20, 21, 24, 25: “God went on to say: ‘Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls* . . . ’ And God proceeded to create the great sea monsters and every living soul that moves about, which the waters swarmed forth according to their kinds, and every winged flying creature according to its kind. . . . And God went on to say: ‘Let the earth put forth living souls according to their kinds . . . ’ And God proceeded to make the wild beast of the earth according to its kind and the domestic animal according to its kind and every moving animal of the ground according to its kind.” (*In Hebrew the word here is ne′phesh. Ro reads “soul.” Some translations use the rendering “creature[s].”)
Lev. 24:17, 18: “In case a man strikes any soul [Hebrew, ne′phesh] of mankind fatally, he should be put to death without fail. And the fatal striker of the soul [Hebrew, ne′phesh] of a domestic animal should make compensation for it, soul for soul.” (Notice that the same Hebrew word for soul is applied to both mankind and animals.)
Rev. 16:3: “It became blood as of a dead man, and every living soul* died, yes, the things in the sea.” (Thus the Christian Greek Scriptures also show animals to be souls.) (*In Greek the word here is psy‧khe′. KJ, AS, and Dy render it “soul.” Some translators use the term “creature” or “thing.”)
Do other scholars who are not Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge that this is what the Bible says the soul is?
“There is no dichotomy [division] of body and soul in the O[ld] T[estament]. The Israelite saw things concretely, in their totality, and thus he considered men as persons and not as composites. The term nepeš [ne′phesh], though translated by our word soul, never means soul as distinct from the body or the individual person. . . . The term [psy‧khe′] is the N[ew] T[estament] word corresponding with nepeš. It can mean the principle of life, life itself, or the living being.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Vol. XIII, pp. 449, 450.
“The Hebrew term for ‘soul’ (nefesh, that which breathes) was used by Moses . . . , signifying an ‘animated being’ and applicable equally to nonhuman beings. . . . New Testament usage of psychē (‘soul’) was comparable to nefesh.”—The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1976), Macropædia, Vol. 15, p. 152.
“The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture.”—The Jewish Encyclopedia (1910), Vol. VI, p. 564.