The following article series will be an exposition of the book by the influential Lutheran theologian, Franz Delitzsch, on the nature of the human soul according to the Bible. First, it will be important to discuss the history of Christian attempts to articulate our own distinctive biblical psychology. Christians have always been interested in articulating a psychology of man. More specifically, this is the study of the “psyche,” or the human soul. Jerome and Eusebius, for example, both make mention of a work by Melito of Sardis on the mind and body. Tertullian likewise attempted to articulated a work called De anima in which he attempts to go beyond Plato’s Phaedo and Aristotle’s three works on the soul. Tertullian begins with the eternal source of the soul and continues through to its origination, duration, and state beyond the grave. Against Hermogenes, he argues for the immaterial and divine origins of the soul. While Gregory Thaumaturgus wrote a work on the soul dedicated to Tatian, Delitzsch regards only the works of Melito and Tertullian as worth mentioning, so far as the early church is concerned.
Delitzsch explains how the articulation of a Christian psychology underwent another revolution in the 4th century A.D. The three Cappadocian Fathers, especially Gregory of Nyssa, contributed to the systematic articulation of a Christian psychology. E.W. Moeller goes to the pains of systematically articulating Gregory’s psychology in his 1854 work Gregorii Nysseni doctrina de hominis natura. Theodore Gangauf likewise articulates a metaphysical psychology from the works o St. Augustine, especially from Augustine’s De anima et eius origine and his anti-Manichaean polemic De duabus animabus. Nemesius, bishop of Emesa, based his own Christian psychology on an Aristotelian model. One Claudianus Mamecus wrote a work known as Libri tres de statu animae against Faustus Regiensis, in which he set out to demonstrate that the soul is neither local nor corporeal.
The work of Cassiodorus, De anima, was written in the 6th century. It articulates the meaning of the word “anima,” elaborates a specific conception of the soul and writes of its future condition. Johannes Philoponus, in the 7th century, wrote a commentary on Aristotle’s work on the soul, although it would not appear in Venice until 1535. The converted Platonist, Aeneas of Gaza, wrote the Theophrastus, which was edited by Boissonade in 1836. It was written around 490 and consisted of a dialogue on the soul’s imortality. Finally, at the end of the patristic age, the fourth book of the dialogues of Gregory the Great, de aeternitate animarum (593-594) consists of a work on the human soul.