Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Journal for Baptist Theology & Ministry
Volume: JBTM 06:2 (Fall 2009)
Article: Book Reviews
Author: Anonymous

Book Reviews

Green, Joel B. Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible. Studies in Theological Interpretation. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2008. Pp. 240. Paperback, $19.99.

Firing another salvo in the on-going monism-dualism debate, Joel B. Green in his new book Body, Soul, and Human Life, presents his ontological monism, a rebuttal against anthropological dualism in general and against the holistic dualism in Body, Soul, and Everlasting Life by John W. Cooper in particular. Green’s anthropological monism, which “coheres well with Nancey Murphy’s argument . . . and with Charles Gutenson’s perspective” (179), merges biblical evidence with advances in neuroscience and views personhood in terms of biography rather than substance.

In a telling way, the title, Body, Soul, and Human Life, mimics Cooper’s Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting. Over the years Green and Cooper have been arguing over the merits of monism and dualism. In their well documented1 clashes they accuse each other of misinterpreting Scripture and of misrepresenting the other’s position, claims which are not unfounded. Their main point of contention is over the issue of the intermediate state, something Green denies and Cooper affirms. Green’s new book continues their academic exchange.

Following a survey of Christian anthropology, Green builds his case for science and against philosophy, claiming that we already use science as a hermeneutical filter (21). Through this filter he finds that since the substantive view of the soul is not supported by scientific data, it must be the result of eisegesis: “situating our exegetical work in relations to the neurosciences has the potential to liberate us from certain predilections that might guide our work unawares and to allow questions to surface that might otherwise have remained buried” (28). Green’s low view of philosophy and high view of science has brought him to a dangerous concession. Although he goes to great lengths to assure us that he is not letting

the science control the hermeneutical agenda, the latter parts of the book undermine his claim.

Green explores the central anthropological issue of human identity in the second chapter. He challenges the dualistic mainstay of ‘parts’ and builds a case for how the soul cannot be the seat of personhood. He dismisses the claim that the soul is a distinct entity because neuroscience can demonstrate physiological characteristics typically associated with the soul. He concludes, then, that “if the capacities tr...

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