Abarim Publications' online Biblical Greek Dictionary
The familiar noun σωμα (soma) means body and lives on as such in the English language (hence also such words as somaesthetic and psychosomatic). It's not clear where this word comes from but anyone with a poetic slant might notice that it looks suspiciously like an outgrowth of the second personal pronoun συ (su) or σοι (soi), meaning you. Whether that notice has any substance to it is for all to guess at, but it would correspond with the function of the English language that relates some indefinite "other guy" to the word body: anybody, somebody.
Note also that the verb σωζω (sozo), to save, comes from the adjective σως (sos), meaning safe, whereas the word σος (sos) is the possessive adjective of the second person plural: yours, which indeed derives from the second personal pronoun συ (su). In fact, the Greek σω- root yields quite an array of words that have to do with wholeness.
Another so- word of unclear pedigree describes the familiar concept of σοφια (sophia), commonly translated with "wisdom". Those at a loss for wisdom will confuse it with the pursuit of knowledge or perhaps even that of truth, but those in command of it know that sophia pursues convention: sophia explores ways to accomplish agreement between parties without demanding that they compromise their integrity or curb their concerns. This obviously goes hand in hand with understanding the laws of nature, which in turn starts with respect for the Creator (Romans 1:20, Proverbs 9:10).
Better yet: natural law is not at all alike human law; it's not a set of rules that is established somewhere separate from the world it is to govern, but much rather a statistical expression of the behavior that all separate elements in their freedom "chose" to pursue. Natural law, quite literally, is most alike language, that naturally forms from the cooling chaos of wild interactions and collisions, into a system of rules that folks may reject at will or accept at will. Those who reject the rules of language will stay mute, misunderstood and bound by darkness. Those who accept the rules of language will achieve freedom-of-speech, a union of minds and true spirituality. It's this same kind of freedom-by-law (ελευθερια eleutheria) that Paul says is the purpose of the gospel: "it is for freedom that Christ has set you free" (Galatians 5:1).
Truth, likewise, does not describe some absolute statement that exists separate from creation and has to be imported like some alien from elsewhere, but something that has always existed buried deep within all of us, that will rise from the dust from which we were formed, "that which will ultimately be unopposed", or "that on which all of us will eventually agree", in effect the "last man standing" (Deuteronomy 30:14, Job 19:25, Matthew 18:20, Luke 17:21, John 14:6).
It's often stated that the body is the opposite of the soul, mind and/or spirit, but that's really not a very helpful distinction (this idea was popularized by René Descartes, whose coordinate system proved remarkably useful but whose dualism suggests that he should have stuck to mathematics). Just like there is no economy without people interacting, there is no soul without cells interacting. Every organism has a soul, because soul is not a substance but the condition of being alive (the Hebrew of Genesis 2:7 is identical to that of Genesis 1:20, 1:24 and 1:30, and speaks of נפש חיה nepesh haya, or living soul). The equally difficult concept of spirit also doesn't describe a substance separate from the body, but rather the ability of the body (that is: the living body, or the soul) to interact with others.
For a more elaborate consideration of these tricky concepts, see our articles on the Greek word for "soul", namely ψυχη (psuche), and "spirit", namely πνευμα (pneuma). See our article on πνευμα (pneuma) for a handy table that relates water (matter), blood (soul and body), and spirit.
Our noun σωμα (soma), body, is used 146 times in the New Testament: see full concordance.
Single cellular bodies, multi-cellular bodies, multi-psychic bodies
A body may consist of one single cell or many individual cells, which maintain a collective economy. This can describe an organic body (frog, cat, cow, human) or a social body (beehive, herd of wildebeests, humanity's global culture). This overlap is of course marvelously convenient because understanding a small-scale body gives you understanding of a large-scale one as a bonus. That's two for the price of one, and that ain't bad. The key or bridge between the two may be a touch tricky to establish, but it helps to remember that each live in their own dimensions and space. In other words: the skin of an organic body does not correspond to the geographical border of a social body, and the singular specification of an organic cell type does not correspond to the specialization of a corresponding unit of a social body (which is not an individual, by the way, but a "house" or οικος, oikos).
In general, a soul without a normally functioning spirit is socially dysfunctional or has a poor international economy. A body without a normally functioning soul is medically dysfunctional or has a poor national economy. A body whose soul has depleted to the point where it stops to exist (the person has died) will start to fall apart into its largest independently sustainable elements. An organic body whose soul stops will fall apart into molecules and some bacteria and fungi. A society whose soul stops to exist falls apart into mostly bewildered people and some independently operating companies.
Every living cell has a soul, but cells that have identical DNA can combine their separate souls into a joint soul. That's where the soul of a larger creature comes from: it's the accumulative effect of all little cell-souls (very much the way the gravities of separate atoms add up to the joint gravity of a planet). All large animals, including humans, consist of a relatively small group of cells that have the same DNA and which together form the soul of the creature, and a huge collection of cells that have different DNA. Without the bacteria and microbes that live in our intestines, our souls can't exist, and these single cellular subsidiary creatures outnumber our body cells at a ratio of 10 to 1.
Immigrant policies and shape-shifting reptiles
In any healthy body, there are about ten foreigners for every one native. The difference between the two is that the native is clearly synchronized with the greater collective, and even changes according to the experiences of the greater collective. Foreigners are far less in tune with the greater collective and don't change too much according to the greater collective's experiences. A healthy body depends on the contribution of imported foreign microorganisms, but not all guests are beneficial, and while some are plain pathogenic, too much of any kind causes serious and debilitating afflictions. All complex bodies require foreign microorganisms in order to function, but all healthy bodies keep foreigners either on the skin (i.e. tourists) or in the digestive tract (i.e. merchants).
When we combine the voices of many singers we get a choir. When we combine the swords of many soldiers we get an army. Humans have the unique ability to combine only part of their souls (and minds) and thus form a society that has a nature which is equal to the nature of the parts that are combined to form it. Our modern society mostly consists of clusters of people's joined limbic systems — that is the part of our precious human brains that we share with lizards. This is the reason why most companies do nothing but eat and grow; it's the reptile way. It's also why people like David Icke feel forced to conclude that the world is run by a race of shape-shifting reptiles (oh well).
Since the Romans destroyed the world's wisdom traditions — and thus the international social bonds the various wisdom elite's maintained — our society is largely reptilian. This is why only very few of us feel truly at home here. Mankind was once much more socially diverse, and many cultures rightly identified with certain animals, and thus formed a true mental biosphere of human animals — hence also the therianthrope, which many scholars take to represent gods and such, but which in fact represent the nature of societies. Before the Bronze Age Collapse destroyed humanity's natural convergence, and Rome turned the whole world into a giant reptile eleven centuries later, humanity's wisdom elites had a social understanding and collective imagination that vastly exceeded our own. We may pride ourselves in our modern gadgets but a lizard with an iPhone is still just a lizard. This is why we are still so baffled by what ancient bird- and mammal-peoples have left for us to find in the way of buildings and monuments.
There are even compelling hints to the idea that the declining wisdom elite invested their final energies into the development of script and the composition of the most complex works of literary art mankind has ever seen. Herodotus wrote in the fifth century BC: "The first history was written in the hope of preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have been," and five centuries before him David wrote: "You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will you allow your Holy One to undergo decay" (for more on this, see our article on the verb γραφω, grapho, to write). Fortunately for all of us, since the late 1990's, the reptiles of our world have been on the decline, and strands of human birds and human mammals are presently taking over entire economic ecosystems (Isaiah 58:12).
A body is an economy, and in order to exist, it needs to live (to have a soul) and interact (to have a spirit) and have a proper ratio of native and foreign residents (i.e. elements with identical and differing constitutions). When these conditions are met, all complex bodies — whether reptilian, avian or mammalian — consist of a handful of recognizable subsystems:
- Flesh: The body's voluntary muscles execute the body's deliberate will — which is the most obvious part of the mind: the conscious — and maneuvers it relative to other economies and the environment at large. The Greek word for flesh is σαρξ (sarx), but the word for muscle, namely μυς (mys) appears to be related to the words μουσα (mousa), meaning muse, and μυστηριον (musterion), meaning mystery. These links probably come from these items to be all "just under the surface" but also suggest that muscle movement comes from an awareness that exceeds the realm of the observable (hence curiosity but also fear and resolve).
- Bones: Voluntary muscles are attached to the body's skeletal structure. Creatures without bones (such as jelly fish) can assume any form, but vertebrates retain their shape according to their bones. In societies, these bones are formed by traditions in the broadest sense of the word: the whole of a society's cultural memory, including its histories, legends and language. These societal bones may obviously remain long after the society itself has passed away, just like the bones of an organism may linger in the earth for eons. The Greek word for bone(s) is οστεον (osteon), hence our English word "ossuary." The Greek word for tomb is μνημα (mnema), from the verb μναομαι (mnaomai), meaning to remember.
- Cardiovascular system: The blood of a body is where its life is (Leviticus 17:10-14), which in a social body is obviously its economy: the free exchange of good and services. The blood of our world is largely reptilian, and any familiarity with mammalian or avian blood comes mostly from our own households (unless you charge your wife and children for their supper). The Creator forbids eating the blood of any body, and the Romans in their evil zeal did precisely that: taxing the peoples they had conquered like vampires. Note that money is a substitute for blood, and its invention appears to be the social equivalent of nature's first evolutionary step toward endothermy (which possibly coincided with a surplus of hemoglobin). The social equivalent of a physical heart is whatever gets the juices flowing. Besides a weekly Sabbath, the Lord decreed several week-long feasts per year (Leviticus 23), and these institutions would certainly have created waves of social interaction and economic exchange that reverberated throughout the year and invigorated the economy at large. The Greek word for "heart" is καρδια (kardia), which is as much related to the cardiovascular system as to the digestive system (read our article on that word for more on this).
- Lymphatic system: The social equivalent of lymph translates to the economy of wisdom. Modern critics tend to associate ancient wisdom traditions to modern religions, but modern religions are a relatively recent invention, and the ancient wisdom elite instead consisted of the same sorts of people that in our modern time become scientists and engineers (and artists and architects and such). Back in antiquity, human law was derived from natural law (compare Psalm 119:97 to Psalm 12:6 and Romans 1:20) and so was the justice system (compare 1 Kings 4:33 to 3:9). In mammalian societies, the wisdom elite congregates in the social equivalents of lymph nodes: libraries and treasuries from where the economy is controlled and kept healthy and operating freely. The Romans understood that in order to subdue people they had to destroy their wisdom elites, so they killed the priests and turned the wisdom nodes into temples (which are mostly instruments of politics). Reptiles, of course, have no lymphatic nodes; they have lymphatic hearts, which make for a completely different kind of attitude toward the relation between science and economy. Our modern world is largely reptilian, and so are most modern religions. That's why in schools and churches we sit silently in our rows half-listening to a salaried instructor: this is all based on a Roman legion. Schools and churches that are based on the rules of life are much more organic, chaotic and free.
- Nerve system: Government comes from the organic brain and the administrative organs of societies. Primitive societies have kings, presidents and CEO's and such, but more advanced societies have non-centralized senates. In our modern world, blockchain technology gives humanity the opportunity for the first time in its existence to form a truly natural government, in which all citizens govern all citizens. Organic sensory organs are in society represented by people who aim their focus out of their own society and toward the environment at large or other societies.
- Digestive system: The digestive system of social bodies is its market. This is of course not a local market somewhere but covers any kind of import and export anywhere within society. This is also obviously where both organic and social bodies entertain most of their crucially important foreigners. Reptiles store fat in their tails, safely aside from their bodily economies. Bird and mammals store their fat under their skin and around their internal organs, very much spread out over their economies. Reptilian societies store their surplus social energy in their absurd central banks, whereas mammalian and avian societies invest their surplus social energies in their internal relationships, social provisions and infrastructure. The rise of cryptocurrencies in our modern age demonstrates the transfer of economic energy from the reptilian world to a new world of mostly mammals and birds.
A note to governments
Imagine creating a car. From the very first moment of production, nature will lay siege on your creation. When it rolls off the line, nature will cause its paint to crack, its metal to rust, its tires to deflate, its battery to discharge, its oil to oxidize, its fuel to evaporate, and even its upholstery to mold and decay. Nature simply doesn't want that car and if you want it you will have to fight a lifetime for it. Then, when you die you can breathe your last knowing that nature, in all its forms, will bear down on your car until nothing but a pile of dust remains and blows away in the wind. You will have wasted your life and you might as well have not existed.
Now imagine creating a garden. Nature will still appear to oppose you, but when you study the plants nature gave you, and learn to understand them, and cultivate them and give them room to grow, nature will form an alliance with you and turn hard and bitter knobs into fleshy tomatoes, potatoes, corn, olives, rice and all sorts of fruits and vegetables. When you truly cultivate, wild trees will form broad bouquets of diversity and freely yield treasures beyond human imagination. Your garden will teem with life and myriads will come to dwell in it and feed off it and praise you for your efforts. Long after your death your successors will emulate you and you will be remembered for working together with the Creator in creating your garden.
Now review your work as a governor and ask yourself: Am I creating a car or a garden? You may have the best intentions but if you have to force your subjects in line and press them into funding your efforts, you are most certainly manufacturing a noisy, stinky car that's destined for the scrap heap. Nature, you see, is designed to be tended. That means that it's rigged to produce a gardener from its own ranks, who in turn will unlock the vast color spectrum that lumbers in natural white light. No gardener has to force his trees into yielding their fruits. Nature freely gives the gardener his reward.Derivatives
Our noun σωμα (soma), meaning body, comes with the following derivatives:
- Together with the preposition συν (sun), meaning together or with: the adjective συσσωμος (sussomos), meaning joint-bodied. This curious word appears to be a Paulism and is used only in Ephesians 3:6.
- The adjective σωματικος (somatikos), meaning bodily or corporeal. This adjective is used in Luke 3:22 and 1 Timothy 4:8 only, and from it comes:
- The adverb σωματικως (somatikos), also meaning bodily (Colossians 2:9 only).