Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Views of Orthodox Theology on Bioethical Issues (2 of 6)

...continued from part one.

3. Prolongation of Biological Life

a) Blood Transfusions

1) Man’s soul is the spiritual element of his existence which, together with the body, constitutes the whole human being. The blood is part of the bodily organism and is not, of course, identified with the soul. According to St Gregory Palamas, “The soul is everywhere in the body.” As essence it is in the heart as in an organ, and as energy it is in the whole body. In Holy Scripture the word ‘soul’ is used with many meanings. Sometimes it denotes the spiritual element of human existence, sometimes it describes the human being, and sometimes it means life. Thus in some cases it is written that animals also have a soul, in other words, life. In human beings the soul has essence (nous and free will) and energy, whereas in animals it only has energy, which is why they act by feeling and instinct. There are passages in the Old Testament in which the soul is equated with blood, for instance, “The soul of all flesh is in its blood” (Lev. 17:11) and “Be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the soul” (Deut. 12:23). Here the word ‘soul’ means life (and is translated as ‘life’ in English versions of the Old Testament), because blood is the basic element that constitutes and sustains life.