An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church


The spiritual nature of a human being, as distinguished from the bodily or physical nature. This distinction is reflected in Eucharistic Prayer I, which states, “here we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies. . . .” (BCP, p. 336). Scriptural sources and Christian teaching have not always been clear or consistent concerning the soul. Aquinas, following Aristotle, identifies the soul as the metaphysical “form” of the body, which is its “matter.” Soul and body thus act jointly as co-principles of being and together constitute the human unity. The soul is understood to be directly created by God and immortal. It is meant to be united with a body. The soul is separated from the body at death, but understood to be capable of separate existence until reunited with a body at the resurrection of the dead. The BCP Catechism states that the resurrection of the body means that “God will raise us from death in the fullness of our being. . . .” (BCP, p. 862). In scholastic terms, this fullness of being is understood to include both the soul and a bodily nature. The modern understanding prefers to see body and soul as a substantive unity in which previous distinctions are blurred.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.