The Hebrew and Greek terms translated “soul” have several shades of meaning. An early occurrence of the Heb. nephesh is in Genesis 2:7 : “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath [ neshamah ] of life; and man became a living soul [ nephesh ].” “Soul” is the most common translation of the Heb. nephesh (from naphash , “to breathe”) and of the Gr. psyche . Inasmuch as breath is the most conspicuous evidence of life, nephesh basically designates man as a living being, a person. In this sense man is a soul, as for example, in Num. 19:18 , where the plural of nephesh is translated “persons.” Frequently nephesh means “life” ( 1 Sam. 20:1 ; 22:23 ; 1 Kings 3:11 ; etc.) and is so translated in the KJV 119 times. Commonly, n...

From the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Published with permission from the Review and Herald Publishing Association.