The Animals (and Their Souls)

Questions about animals and their appearance in resurrection seem to repeatedly arise in the Church conversation. The key argument against it seems to be that there has to be separation between man an animals when it comes to the soul. Though I agree here, I think there are other things that do separate us, but not in the sense of being a living soul.

The word nephesh hayah is the Hebrew term for living soul (also could be translated living being, creature, or thing). This specific term comes up a few times. The key points are in Genesis.

  • Chapter 1 mentions it in verses 20, 21, 24, and 30. All those times refer to animals.
  • Chapter 2 mentions it in verses 7 and 19. The first is about Humans and the second is about animals.
  • Chapter 9 mentions it in verses 10, 12, 15, and 16. All refer to animals in the covenant along with Noah and his family.

There are other places as well.

  • Leviticus 11:10, 46 (Animals)
  • Ezekiel 18:27 (Humans) and 47:9 (Animals)
  • Job 12:10 might be a place for it. Not sure whether the grammar is different or not.

This is not to debase humanity to mere creatures. There is something that does separate us. That thing is the tselem elohim, or as some say imago dei. This is the image of God. The Image of God is being the representing ruling figure or image while the King is away. That is what separates us from the animals.

Another thing to consider is that the Hebrew word nephesh is used in many other places. It is commonly translated as soul, but seems to be more diversely related to life and anything alive when you consider the context of each and every use.

If you look at the word soul, you will find that soul is not really something we have as much as it is something that we just are, alive. And if that be the case, animals, which are alive, are defined in the same way.

What hope does this give us? God promises to resurrect humanity and even heal the earth. If God promises that to the humans who have the nephesh hayah, then the animals sharing that term in their existence are probably held to the same promise. And even if that were not the case, God’s promise to heal the earth on which we live would include these animals.

What have you been taught about animals in the resurrection? Do you think they will be brought back when Christ returns? Why or why not?

*Links to verses were not shared on this post. I do not have a site that easily guides people through the original language of hebrew. Sorry guys, but I still wish you grace and peace like always.*