The Bible teaches that human beings are body, soul and spirit.
The body is a divine miracle created by the Lord of dust in an amazing beautiful figure (Genesis 1:31), but after the fall of man, it has become, sometimes, used figuratively in the Bible as a symbol of sin and self-sensuality (Romans 7:24, Galatians 5:24) and perhaps because it looks similar in a way or another to the body of the rest of animals that its souls walk behind its desires in an uncontrolled fashion (Ecclesiastes 3:19). Meanwhile, there’s nothing wrong in it as a flesh or a matter (Ephesus 5: 29), moreover, the pain of the body – as a divine trial – acts as a good trainer of the soul (1 Peter 4: 1). There is also no wrong in the physical similarities between human body and other animal’s, in fact; any believer who reads in comparative anatomy will praise the mutual Creator for this marvelous piece of art.
The soul – also called in the Bible, metaphorically, heart – is the net product of interaction among millions of neuronal synapses in the brain, which is also present in the rest of the animals (Proverbs 12:10), but only in humans, the soul has a direct link to the spirit as well as to the flesh (Proverbs 15:13). Body hormones, neurotransmitters among other mediators work on these synapses to give birth to all instincts of man and to participate with the surrounding environment in the emergence of all its thoughts, aspirations and unique personality (Isaiah 45: 4). Soul perishes as soon as man and animal die (Psalms 146: 4), and biblically it was created after the Lord breathed spirit in the flesh of man and sometimes soul symbolize man as a whole (Genesis 14: 21).
The Spirit is that simple divine breath, which God has given to our father Adam (Genesis 2: 7) and by this spirit man is distinguished from all other animals; and from Adam, spirit is transferred to all his descendants till the end of times. Though originally there was only one spirit given to all humans, but it’s shaped with the image of the unique soul of every man to become unique itself as well. Therefore, no wonder that The Bible uses, sometimes, soul and spirit interchangeably (Proverbs 24: 12, Ecclesiastes 3:21) but to be distinguished between them when there’s a need to distinguish between what is from earth and will perish “The soul” and what is from the Lord and will last forever “the spirit” (Ecclesiastes 12: 7). It’s obvious to expect that spirits of some perishable humans (2 Thessalonians 2:10) will be darkly imprinted by the excess of their sins will be identical to their sinful souls to become sinful as well (Proverbs 14:29, 16:18), just as the spirits of some angels has once fallen (Jude 1: 6).
Adopted by many psychologists, Sigmund Freud’s structural theory of the psyche has been worldwide popular and to some extent accepted. It divides the personality and mind “soul” into three parts, the “superego” representing the conscience and all that’s elegant in humans; “ID” representing human primitive desires, instincts, and bohemian life and the “ego”; the person that shows to other people as a product of this conflict between ID and superego. I believe, relying on the Bible, that this Freudian division, though useful as regard to academic studies, is seldom beneficial for believers and regular human beings and it needs to be more developed, with biblical modifications to this theory explained below, it should be better considered a reflection to voices that struggle in the brain “mind” and soul, more than a subtle division of the personality or soul and five important voices may be considered.
Voice of instinct “ID”: Hunger, thirst, sex … Etc. It’s a loud and very strong voice, well known to all humans (Judges 15:18) as well as to animals; what distinguishes man from animals and one human from another is its ability to control this voice with spirit and guide it correctly in a right path; religion plays a very important role in this control (1 Corinthians 9:27 ).
Voice of the devil: it’s also a very loud voice; hasty and arrogant. It deflects and distorts the voice of reason as well as the instincts “ID” (Genesis 3: 1-5); beware of this hasty sound and slow down before regret.
Voice of the soul and mind “ego”: It’s the sound produced from the human experience in life, and if guided by the Holy Spirit, it’s a very sound voice full of wisdom and analyses all voices and spirits (1 John 4: 1) but if guided by evil, it invents corruption and invents corruption and evil advice (2 Samuel 15:31, 16:23).
Voice of the Spirit “superego”: The spirit which came from God will find comfort only in him, as it’s well said by the Church Fathers. It’s a nostalgic voice for prayer, praise and all that is heavenly oriented but, perhaps unfortunately, it’s a quiet and very gentle voice and like its Creator, it doesn’t impose its voice forcibly on the soul (Rev 3:20). If it didn’t find a response, it keeps silent and suffers in a hidden agony, that may become revealed, if not properly treated, after a while as illness of soul or body and vice versa (Proverbs 15:13, 17:22, Ecclesiastes 13:32, 37: 21). I argue that ignoring the Spirit leading to its illness is perhaps the source of all misery and illness that happens to humans in all ages, meanwhile, diseases of the body, whatever severe, provided that the spirit is sound, is not comparable to the effects of the illness of the spirit.
His voice: May our Merciful Lord grants us in these holy days to hear his voice in softened hearts (Hebrews 3:15) in order to enjoy the company of his Holy Spirit and repentance, acceptance and renewal of our lives, In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the help of the prayers of our Lady, mother of Grace, Virgin Mary and the prayers of the martyr and saint Julietta and all the holy angels and righteous saints, Amen.
Dr. Mina Thabet Kelleni is an assistant lecturer of pharmacology, faculty of medicine, Minia University. He is a Coptic Orthodox Researcher,