The Beginning and Development of the Threefold Life


Sec, VIII.

Wherever the Holy Scripture speaks of the act of begetting and conception, e.g. Ps. li. 5, it speaks of it as of a fact to which is referred the beginning of the being and the threefold life of the whole man—of man absolutely and without exception entire. Even the male or female sexuality is already distinguished according to Scripture in this moment of commencement (Job iii. 3; Luke i. 36).

The embryo is called in Hebrew D^i (Ps. cxxxix. 16). As is known, the embryo does not lie straight, but so that the front of the head is inclined forwards to the front of the belly; the extremities are folded, and all is as much as possible thrown into the form of an egg. The Israelite had skill in this knowledge, in consequence of the practice then frequent in war times of laying open the womb of the mother (li"in j?i33, 2 Kings viii. 12, xv. 16; Amos i. 13 ; Hos. xiv. 1). A more significant word for the embryo could hardly be found than that D^j, derived from ^hi, to roll together.1

The development of the embryo, to the wisdom of the Israelite, stands for one of the profoundest mysteries. u As thou knowest not what is the way of the wind," says the Preacher (xi. 5), "nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child" (as thou knowest not the growing of this into a man); even so thou canst not know the works of God, who maketh all." "I know not," says the mother of the seven in the time of the Maccabees to these her children (2 Mace. vii. 22), " I know not how ye came to being in my womb; nor have I given you spirit and life, and have not arranged the members of you {<rroi^elxoaiv StepvOfirjaa)." Two poetic passages of the canonical Scripture speak at large of this mysterious development. We translate them: first of all, vers. 13-16 of the 139th Psalm of David:

"For Thou hast brought forth my reins.
Thou inweavedst me in the womb of my mother.
It was a fearful wonder, therefore I thank Thee.
Marvellous are Thy works!
And my soul knoweth it right well.

My bones were not hidden from Thee

When I was made in secret,

Variously wrought in the lower parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see me as an embryo,

And on Thy book were they all written;

The days of the future, of which none existed then."

Then verses 8-12 (one strophe) from ch. x. of the book of

"Thine hands have formed me and fashioned me
Altogether round about; and now Thou hast destroyed me.
Remember still, that as clay Thou hast fashioned me;
And wilt Thou change me into dust again?

1 The LXX. translates ax.artpyaariii fiov, Symmachus, tifiipQtni» ft(. In the Talmudic, obi implies the unformed man, especially the still unformed vessel.

Hast Thou not poured me out in form as milk,
And allowed me to curdle like cheese?
Thou clothedst me with skin and flesh,
And interweavedst me with bones and sinews.
Thou hast shown to me life and grace,
And Thy protection defended my breath."

The most important matter to us in these two passages is this, that the fenlale uterus is called K^K nrann.1 It is called thus, as the secret workshop of the earthly principle, with the same reference back to the first origination of man's body from dust of the earth, as when Job ( i. 21) says, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither again." This back reference is expressed according to both aspects, when, on the one hand, it is said of Elihu (Job xxxiii. 6), " Behold, I am, even as thou thyself art, of God: I also am moulded out of the clay;" on the other hand, ver. 4: u God's Spirit hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life." In the origination of every man is thus repeated, according to the view of Scripture, the mode of Adam's creation.

But if it be the case that the primeval coming into being is the type of every following instance, we are not, with Fr. Nasse,2 at all to assume in respect of Gen. ii. 7, that the child has no soul of its own until its birth; but, on the contrary, the substance of the germ from which man is developed must be taken for a reciprocal possession of body and spirit effectuated by the soul, which proceeds from the spirit; and this view is to be held although it cannot be proved by inquiry, and has the apparent evidence against it. Thus (1) the view is objectionable, that the body is even from its first beginning the image of the soul embodying itself.3 "When we suppose," says K. Heyder,* * that

1 Reuchlin had previously interpreted briefly and well in his Rudimenta (1506): Contextus sum in inferioribus terrse id est in matrice.

2 In the Appendix, "of the Animation of the Child," ZeiLichr. fiir die Anthropologie, 1824, i., and 1825, iii. In both, the author depends on Gen. ii. 7.

3 So, for instance, the author of the Seeknfreundliclten Briefe (1853), p. 57, and by name J. H. Fichte.

4 In his notice of the Wagnerian work on the struggle about the soul, Zeitschr. far Protest. 1857, p. 345. Just thus decides A. Zeller, art. "Irre" in Ersch and Gruber's A.E.

God has endowed the soul with anything of creative power, by which itself produces its own bodily appearance,—and, indeed, in such a manner that, by divine contrivance, its previously existing material offers itself as the conditioning of its operation,—we think that we are not therein coming into contradiction with the Holy Scripture." As a recommendation of this opinion, the observation is premised, that in any place "it is not the purpose of Scripture to give us scientific disclosures on the problem of the union of body and soul." But, however that may be, the Scripture certainly has a fundamental view on the relation of the soul to the body, which it holds unchanged from its first page even to its last; and this fundamental view, it must be conceded, is decidedly dualistic. This decisiveness is not diminished by the fact, that it none the less comprehends the union of body and soul as an internal and essential fact. The narrative of creation (Gen. ii. 7)—which certainly has another purpose than that of making scientific disclosures—is actually, with respect to this its other purpose,1 the most express protest against monism. And as in this foundation text, so throughout, Scripture considers body and soul as distinct creations of God, and the latter, not as that which produces the body, but only as that which enlivens it; as also the brute soul has not formed to itself its own body,2 but the constitution of the creative spirit, originated at the divine call to being, at the same moment with the body. Nevertheless the origination of the child differs from that of the first man in this respect, that certainly the beginning of the individualized corporeity absolutely coincides with the beginning of the individual soul that vitalizes it; so that, from the first moment of its beginning to be, the embryo is a germinating concrete unity of body and soul. And, moreover, it is true, that from this first moment the soul is a coefficient factor of the bodily development; but it is false to say (2) that it is a plastic or organizing principle of this development,3 and the body only the external formation of the soul's inner natural life, effected by attraction from the natural world

1 See thereupon Drechsler, in my Commentary on Genesis (1860), p. 138.

8 Thus Keerl, Schdpfungsgeschichtc, pp. 576-578. 8 Thus e.g. K. Ph. Fischer, in his Anthropologic (1853), see especially sec. 82.

of the corresponding material.1 This view is only another variation of that which has just been rejected, which makes the soul a productive principle. For if the soul, according to an idea dwelling in it, forms the material beginning of the body into a skilfully articulated organ of itself, it is the creator of the body, although it does not bring it forth out of nothing, but out of a plastic chaos. And this is contrary to Scripture, and contradicts itself. It is contrary to Scripture; for, looking to the history of creation in Gen. ii. 7, the skilful structure of the body is prior to its endowment with soul; and in the origination of the child, the body, according to Scripture, equally as then, is God's structure, and the soul, equally as then, God's inspiration,—equally, although carried into effect by those who beget it, inasmuch as the creative impresses of the primitive beginning are continuing to operate in the act of procreation. But, moreover, it confutes itself; for if the origination of the body and the origination of the soul coincide, so that neither precedes the other, then the body is, even in the first moment of its individualization, a germ, preformatively bearing in itself the idea of its development,2—a cbiy i.e. an undeveloped thing, but a thing capable of development out of itself. In conformity with that capability, it is already all that it subsequently becomes; and the final impelling cause of its development, according to Scripture, is God, not the soul. To understand this, it must be remembered that the elementary germinating substance of the body, even apart from the soul, is not an absolutely dead mass. It has already a part in organic nature-life, although as yet it is not individually living. It is indeed fructified from the father's life; it is rooted in the mother's life; it is pervaded by powers from which its vegetative development may be comprehended even without the addition of a soul. But there is implied in the preformative idea of this development, that the corporeity has to be moulded

1 Thus literally Schoberlein, Jahrbb. 1861, p. 47.

2 We know well what modern psychology is pleased to say against this: "It is nothing but a phrase—which pretends to satisfy, but dissolves in the hand that would grasp it—to say that it is the idea of the creature involved in the egg, which is confirmed by the development, and that the idea is awakened by fructification."—Bergmann-Leuckart, Vergkichende Anatomie und Physiologie, 1855, p. 572. Assuredly ideas cannot be grasped with hands.

into a suitable organ of the soul. The soul is thus the purpose, and link, and support of this growth into being: it is the self-living centre, round which all the atoms of the body are grouped and arranged. Certainly also it influences this growth into being, in that it not merely lets it happen that a body forms itself, but operates for this purpose, that a body corresponding to this soul, thus and thus determined, should form itself to it—thus conceiving for the growth into being of the body the stamp of its individuality. So far it is, as the unity of the end of this growth into being, so also the unity of its foundation, but not absolute, only in a certain measure.

A third view is confuted by that resemblance which Scripture assumes between the act of procreation and the primeval act of creation. For instance, (3) it has been often and much taught, under manifold modifications, that the spiritual soul, free in itself as it forms its real external organization (the body), so further, by spontaneous relation to this organization, develops also its ideal spiritual nature, or internal organization, which is the medium of its self-realization into the concrete spirit, or to the spiritual personality.1 The human soul (in this respect distinguished from the brute soul) is thus, as it were, a priori spiritual, but only potentially so: the spirit does not become actual until the soul realizes this potency, and thus completes itself. This is not only the prevailing philosophical view, but also the theosophic view, although the latter considers the process of development not as physical, but ethical. It pertains to the fundamental views of J. Bohme, and his great interpreter Fr. Baader, that the soul has its primitive standing in the fire-life of the Father, which is as well a longing after light and existence, as the power towards both; that in it is implanted by the Son, as the bearer of the world of ideas, the idea or the divine image of human destination; and that it has in the body the actuality of nature, which must come to a spiritual conformation through the Holy Spirit by His actualizing that idea, and so making the soul itself spiritual.8 We will not dissemble it, but, on the contrary, in love for the truth, we will most urgently declare it, that this is the point at which our conception of the relation of soul and spirit has to undergo

1 See K. Ph. Fischer, Anthropologie, sec. 84.

8 See J. Bamberger, in the second Appendix of this division.

the hardest and most decisive trial. Here is the motive which first decided me, after long delay, to allow this my system of biblical psychology to issue to the world a second time. For whether the development of man is to be placed under a natural or a spiritual point of view, most weighty considerations occur to us here. But they still cannot determine me to subvert my fundamental view. In writing biblical psychology, we are concerned to know whether the main representation in question is biblical; and of this foundation we are even still assured.

The act of divine inbreathing (Gen. ii. 7) is not apprehended by theosophy as endowing with spirit, but as the enkindling of the essentials of the soul present in the bodily form, and the awakening of the idea, or of the spirit-form of the soul, by the Holy Spirit. It is this which calls the soul into life, and makes manifest the idea in it, which primarily is a gift, but at the same time a charge, so far as the soul is to allow it now to attain form in itself, and, as Baader expresses it, to become spirit through the inbirth of the idea as seed of the spirit. But these are thoughts which cannot be read from the biblical text. For the breath of life (nischmath chajim) is a breath of God which not only effects this and that iu the construction of the body, but, as is shown by Gen. vii. 22, Isa. ii. 22, and other passages, enters into man as a continual element of his nature. Man is henceforth living soul by the power of the spirit of life, wherewith God has endowed him in a manner elevated above the origin of the brutes. He is an individual endowed with soul, and, at the same time, a spiritual personality. The endowing with soul is the consequence of the endowing with spirit, and the endowing with spirit is not previously the object into which the endowment with soul was developed. The God-willed object of development is penetration by the spirit, i.e. spiritual permeation of the whole condition of being, but not the outworking of the spirit itself. The realization of the idea is not the becoming of the spirit itself, but the problem proposed to the threefold spirit with the co-operation of the seven powers of the soul. In the spirit shines forth the light which corresponds to the birth of the Son. The entire threefold life of man has as its destination to develop itself forth from its ground of fire to the life of light. The entire man is to be a child of light by becoming a light in the Lord, the everlasting Light which became the Light of the world. This is the biblical truth of the theosophic view.

The philosophic view of the priority of the soul, and of its first gradually ensuing self-development into spirit,—not merely dynamically present, but actual,—has, at all events, experience in its favour, so far as man does not enter except with advancing growth into the position of intellectual selfdetermination ; as, moreover, Scripture assumes (Isa. vii. 16). This gradual progress is altogether undeniable; and, moreover, we are far from opposing to the proposition, that the soul develops itself into spirit, the reverse proposition, that the spirit develops itself into soul. No; we concede that we should thereby be flying in the face of experience. But this consequence is not at all involved in our premiss, that the priority in relation to the soul belongs to the spirit. For we maintain this priority with reference to the created origination of the two, and their position in respect of creation to one another, but not with regard to the development of the man, which in general, following the procedure of creation, begins from below upwards, in order then to complete itself from above downwards. What results from that premiss, with reference to the development of man, is only this: that in the first germinating beginning of man, spirit and soul also are placed together in the way of germ; that they both together emerge by degrees into actuality; and that the life of the soul does not unfold itself, without, at the same time, the self-consciousness of the spirit glimmering near it in the background, and so glimmering on throughout the development. The Scripture at least knows absolutely nothing of a CS?. developing itself into nn, of a yfrv^ becoming •nvevfm; rather it supposes, that with the embryonic beginning of bodily life is produced, at the same time, the beginning of the spirit's and soul's life. The human life, says a philosopher —who in this matter agrees with us1—comprises three periods of development and training,—the bodily, psychical, and spiritual, the characteristic features of which are predominantly denoted by the age of life—of childhood, youth, and manhood. None of these elements is wholly absent in any one epoch of life; but the rest are subordinated to the spiritual, not only manifestly in

1 Windischmann, in Fr. Nasae's Zeitschr. fur d. Anthropologie, 1823-4, p. 882.

the time of greater maturity, but also from the beginning, only in a more hidden manner: in the psychic element they have their natural effectuation and reciprocal action.

For when, according to Luke i. 25, John even in his mother's womb was said to be full of the Holy Ghost, it is plainly assumed that the fruit of the body has not only soul, but also spirit; for it is precisely the human spirit which is the organ for the reception of the divine. Besides, moreover, Scripture relegates secret events, which primarily concern the spirit, back into the life of the embryo, especially the separating and sanctifying to a lofty call (Isa. xlix. i. 5; Jer. i. 5; Gal. i. 15). And as well believing love of God (Ps. xxii. 10, lxxi. 6), as self-turning departure from God (Ps. lviii. 4; Isa. xlviii. 8), are dated back at least without any limits into the period of infancy, to say nothing of Gen. xxv. 22, Hos. xii. 4, Luke i. 41. It is therefore impossible that the Scripture should so separate spirit and soul in the child, as that the former should be only potentially included in the latter. Spirit and soul are factors, present from the beginning in proportional correlation in the process of man's development. If the Scripture apparently contradicts this, by saying that the beginning of man is psychical, and the aim of his development is pneumatical, it is meant of the ethical development that is to be completed on the ground of the physical condition. The first position of man is the implanted or inborn one of psychical immediateness thus and thus determined; and from this position he is to pass over into the self-effectuated spiritual one of all—even to the outermost end of the self-determination that rules over the corporeity.

We stand here before a riddle, which, however, is equally enigmatical, whether we suppose that the soul is the self-copy of the spirit, or that the spirit is the culminating point of the soul. In both cases it is mysterious, that the existence of the spirit— to which it is essential to be conscious of itself—begins with a condition of unconsciousness. For the actual and reflex knowledge, especially the knowledge of itself, begins, like the perception of the sunlight, first of all after birth (Eccles. vi. 3-5). How is it possible, it is asked, that man, beginning to be, should have spirit without having self-consciousness? Personality, as Philippi teaches in reference to the question, is that which lies at the foundation of self-consciousness and free self-determination; something deeper—that peculiar internal nature which is reflected in these two forms of appearance—that spiritual Ego-ness of which man becomes conscious in his self-consciousness, and which, in his self-determination towards the external, he disregards, as is shown in the child in which the Ego-ness is already present as a germ, and still does not develop itself in consciousness and freedom.1 The fact is true, although its mode of indication may be questioned,—this Ego-ness is the personally contiguous, but still not personally efficient, individuality of man, which is not so much the essence, as it is rather the ground of possibility of self-consciousness and of freedom; or still more plainly and definitely, this Ego-ness is the spirit of man itself, to which self-consciousness and freedom already potentially belong before they become energetic. The human spirit is thus a self-conscious spirit before man becomes conscious of himself. That is just the enigma. But this enigma is a fact which cannot be otherwise. If spirit and body were to enter into a unio personalis, it would be indispensable that the spirit should be subjected to a similar law of development with that of the body. How this would be possible may be guessed, if we remember that (as has been shown) the basis of the life of the spirit and of the soul is not knowledge, but will; but it can just as little be apprehended as the unio personalis—infinitely more mysterious—of the divine and human nature in Christ. We experience the actuality of this incomprehensible thing in ourselves daily. For there are many normal and abnormal conditions, in which the human spirit is put back into that state of unconsciousness or restrained consciousness with which its existence began. And as it has forced itself upwards from darkness to light, it has (itself herein being a witness of its conditionality) even now still a gloomy depth, in which every greatness that it brings forth is wont embryonically to ripen3 before it is born into the light.

1 Glaubenslehre, ii. 144.

2 C. Gust. Carus, in his book entitled Psyche, has exquisitely represented the region of unconsciousness still ever subsisting in the neighbourhood of the conscious life of the soul. Also in the work, Schiidel, Hirn, und Seek (1854), of E. Huschke, there occur some profound considerations having reference to this subject. "In our spirit," we read, p. 186, "there is constantly active gloom, half gloom, and clearness; and while the clear sinks back into gloom, a gloom is labouring upwards to the daylight of

But if spirit and soul stand in inseparable causal connection, and if the spiritual functions of the soul are the beamings forth of the spirit itself, the development of the spirit in its normal consummation must of necessity keep equal pace with that of the soul, and the advance of the spirit must at the same time be the advance of the soul. And thus it actually is. Of the child normally developing itself, Scripture says, Kparaiovadat irvevfiart, (Luke i. 80, comp. ii. 40, 52). It is readily felt how almost impossible to be said is Kparaiovadai yfrv^j},—for this reason, namely, because the latter is comprised in the former, and would have specially suggested the idea of speaking of a strengthening of the soul in distinction from the spirit—therefore of a defective development. That for the rest even in children, and plainly in them, a determinate development of the three activities of the spirit is possible, no one will doubt, who remembers that the mysteries of the kingdom are revealed to infants—i^7rwt? (Matt. xi. 25); and that God has chosen ra f>tcapa Tov K6af>lov to bring to shame the wise (1 Cor. i. 27, comp. Ps. viii. 2). Precisely in the child—that is to say, in the rightly trained child—the spirit comes to the first development, which corresponds to its nature of love originating from God; and the soul of the child—which is not yet clouded by the gloomy shadows of sensuality, and is not yet thoroughly disordered by the magic power of the passions—is the still clear lovely mirror of that firstling life of the spirit.

In the commencement and advance of the threefold life of man, closely considered, there thus appears no counter-proof against our view, founded on Gen. ii. 7, of the priority of the spirit in relation to the soul. Undisturbed in our view, we may advance to the consideration of the aspect of the soul which is turned towards the body and to the world, just as we have already more closely considered the aspect turned towards the spirit.

consciousness." Similarly, J. H. Fichte, and especially Fechner in his Psychophysik (2 vols. 1860), in which he, with a Herbartish application of mathematics to psychology, seeks to establish the wave-like vicissitude of consciousness and unconsciousness according to law.