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Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting: Biblical Anthropology and the Monism-Dualism Debate [Paperback]

John W Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2000
This widely acclaimed study of biblical anthropology is available once more along with a substantial new preface by the author. Fully engaged with theological, philosophical, and scientific discussions on the nature of human persons and their destiny beyond the grave, John Cooper's defense of "holistic dualism" remains the most satisfying and biblical response to come from the monism-dualism debate. First published in 1989, Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting is required reading for Christian philosophers, theologians, psychologists, and students interested in the mind-body question.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; New edition edition (1 Oct 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802846009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802846006
  • Product Dimensions: 22.7 x 15.4 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 760,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From earliest times Christians have affirmed continuing personal existence after biological death. Read the first page
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5.0 out of 5 stars Very useful 27 Jan 2014
I read this book about 10 years ago, and have just recommended it to someone who wanted a book in this area. Although it is written as an academic book, it is not beyond a general intelligent reader's comprehension. It is important because a lot of Evangelicals are influenced by the old spirit-soul-body trichotomy that finds favour in the writings of people like Watchman Nee; also it is useful because Seventh Day Adventist notions of soul sleep find favour amongst some academics. a useful book, based in scripture, theology and psychology. You won't regret reading it if you are open to having your views challenged.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Holistic Dualism Now and Forever 29 Sep 2006
By Robert W. Kellemen - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Cooper defends what he states has been the major view throughout church history: holistic dualism. By that term he means that human nature is of one substance with two primary modes of existence: body and soul inseparable in this life and the next. Cooper sees all other views of the nature of human nature as lacking biblical, theological, and historical support.

His study of Hebrews anthropological terms, while interesting, diminishes the conclusions of the classic work by H. W. Wolff. Though Wolfe would agree that there is great semantic overlap among the various terms, he expertly explains that the terms do have a semantic emphasis, and that we can develop a biblical anthropology from those terms. When all is said and done, Wolff's view might be called "Holistic polychotomy"--human nature is one nature with many functions, summarized as relational, rational, volitional, emotional, and physical.

Reviewer: Robert Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Biblical Psychology," "Soul Physicians," "Spiritual Friends," and "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent work 5 Jan 2007
By G. Stucco - Published on
A must read on eschathology. Very well written, balanced, fair, not triumphalistic but cautious, yet firm in its conclusions. Bravo Cooper!

The author notices that absolute, metaphysical and anthropological dualism (Augustine, Calvin, Aquinas and Swinburne) has fallen on hard times due to the influence of Materialism (Hobbes), Behaviorism, Spinozism, Psychology (which tends to support epiphenomenalism), and some Theology (e.g., Cullman). Nowadays, it seems that the old antithesis of body/soul; mind/matter; this life/the otherworld, is coming under increasing criticism. Some theologians no longer believe in an intermediate state after death (a state between death and final resurrection), denying that it is possible for the "soul" to survive physical death as a conscious, living subsistent being. These theologians prefer to support either: a) soul sleep (also known as extinction/re-creation theory; or b) immediate resurrection, which claims that at death we are immediately resurrected in the presence of God. The anthropological view advocated by these theologians is known as "ontological holism." Aristotle for instance, did not believe in immortality of the soul. Cooper does not agree with this view; in his book he examines the OT, the inter-testamental writings, the NT (in the Gospels, Pauline and non Pauline writings), to find evidence that supports the traditional Christian belief in an intermediate state after death. Himself no friend of metaphysical dualism, he proposes what he calls, "holistic dualism" or, to use another term, "functional holism." At the end of the book he considers six objections to his theory and concludes by citing the support that his theory has in traditional thinkers like Cobb, Pope John Paul II, Neo-Calvinism and Thomas Aquinas.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 4 July 2014
By Donald G. Price - Published on
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Heavy reading but very good.
5.0 out of 5 stars great book 3 May 2014
By tj - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Gave great insight and depth to the topic at hand. It was well written and a joy to read. I will read it again soon.
34 of 53 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An indelicate stomp through muddy waters 17 Oct 2005
By Micah Newman - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book wasn't quite what I expected. What I thought it would be is a thorough survey of Biblical anthropology--that is, human nature as presented in the Bible--and a philosophically-minded hermeneutics thereof to extract some data with respect to the mind/body and monism/dualism question. And it is that, sort of. But a more complete description of what it is is an opinionated quasi-screed against monism as the philosophical Zeitgeist of our age. The author has an agenda, and he minces no words furthering it. The thing is, this kind of book is just the thing that could always stand more word-mincing, so to speak. I have no problem with the author having an opinion on his chosen subject and being open about it, it's just that the tone of his particular approach comes out sounding to this reader like at least two parts rhetoric for every one part argumentation.

To begin the book, we're harangued repeatedly with the reminder that if traditional dualism is false, then almost all of Christendom has believed a fundamental falsehood about human nature. Then, the traditional dualist view is presented as under attack from all fronts in Christian scholarship and direly needing defending. This dichotomy sort of sets the tone for the rest of the book.

The OT portion of the book mainly analyzes the various uses of the Hebrew words "ruach" and "nephesh," especially with respect to Sheol. I found all this thoroughly confusing, but Cooper, from somewhere, pulls the conclusion that the data _in toto_ support his own "holistic dualist" view. Then there's a lot of space given to analyzing such language in the intertestamental Apocrypha, and I just did not find this of much interest, these works being noncanonical in the Protestant church. There are all *kinds* of loopy stuff in the Apocrypha, and I really did not understand the point of trying to extract a coherent anthropology from it all. In total, the emphasis of this first 40% or so of the book seemed to be on "What various people through the ages have believed" rather than "What the Bible teaches or assumes". That's kind of disappointing.

Around the middle of the book, where the NT is discussed, a serious and identifiable problem emerges in Cooper's methodology: he sets up a trichotomy between dualism, and, with respect to the resurrection, "extinction-recreationism" and "immediate resurrectionism." Now, "immediate resurrectionism" seems all but untenable Biblically, yet the author spends a lot of time debunking it next to dualism. So all that just comes off as so much straw-man-beating. The deeper and purely philosophical problem with this approach is in Cooper's other straw man, "extinction-recreationism." He simply equates death with nonexistence, and this is a thesis that needs argument, not assumption. In fact, it seems to practically beg the question in favor of his own position.

To me, the mere future fact of the general resurrection just prima facie points to an anthropology of human persons as essentially material beings, to where there needs to be an independent reason shown for thinking that we're consciously disembodied in the interim before being reunited with our bodies: otherwise, it just seems blatantly arbitrary that there should be a resurrection. Cooper does not address this issue by giving reasons for thinking of ourselves this way, but rather simply demolishes some suspiciously gerrymandered-looking strawmen, leaving his own view as the sole remaining competitor. He does say against "extinction-recreation" that if a person is to be re-created, it is logically possible for duplicates of the person to be re-created, and hence there is a fundamental problem with reinstantiation of the original identity rather than duplication of the originally-born person. Here, at last, is an interesting philosophical argument (although not quite a persuasive one, seeing as how it leans on purely "logical possibility," which I'm inclined to be maximally skeptical about--it's "logically possible" I could wake up tomorrow morning as a centipede, but I'm also quite sure it's 100% metaphysically impossible, and hence impossible _tout court_, that I will, or could); unfortunately, it's about the only one in the book I could detect.

At the end of the book, I am still not sure what "holistic dualism" is and how to picture it conceptually. What it does smack of is giving a name to a sort of mathematical mean of all different positions and thereby trying to get the best of all worlds, rather than presenting a unified, explanatory, and independently desirable picture of human nature.

Up to now it probably sounds like I almost hated the book, yet I gave it three stars. Really, I'm being more cranky than I should (largely because it's late and I'm tired); _Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting_ is not totally unhelpful. Although lots of ink is spilled jostling ham-fistedly with strawmen or otherwise being awfully contentious, Cooper is quite conversant with the scholarly Biblical literature, although somewhat less so with the contemporary philosophical literature. The book does give a broad survey of views on the topic; it's just that I found the author's approach far more irksome than winning.
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