(Mis)interpretation: the root of all (mis)understanding


(If you have Tengwar fonts installed in your computer, the word above reads perfectly for you! If not, well, your misunderstanding started right away!)

One single word: Fëa! It means “soul, spirit” in Quenya. Below, I’ll show and reason with you, how destructive the power of misinterpretations may be Psalm 23(guided or unconscious) and how it may lead you to a full correct understanding of a text and its idea or not. This post is kind of a follow-up of Psalm in Quenya and the conversations that sprung from it.

We’re gonna analyze that one single word within one single text (easily more can be added but let’s focus on only one) and see where its rendering leads us. Let’s start with the dictionary and our own language, English. The Quenya word fëa got double meaning “spirit, soul”. In English, those words mean:


  1. a state of mind or attitude.
  2. the inner character of a person, thought of as different from the material person we can see and touch.
  3. enthusiasm and energy.


  1. the spiritual part of a person that some people believe continues to exist in some form after their body has died, or the part of a person that is not physical and experiences deep feelings and emotions.

From: The Dictionary of Cambridge


Good! That’s pure English. Our quest starts now regarded the word ‘soul’! Question: Where does this notion of spirituality concerning soul come from? Which religion does the people mentioned in The Dictionary of Cambridge follow so that they believe a soul keeps living on after death? Is there any (mis)interpretation/(mis)understanding problem right here? Now, time to get back to past and check Hebrew & Greek so we find anything that helps us!


The Hebrew word (used in the Bible and translated as our English ‘soul’) is ne′phesh [נֶפֶשׁ]. Its equivalent in Greek is psy·khe′ [ψυχή]. Both of them, in their original tongues, mean ‘soul’ in the sense of ‘person, animal or the life that a person or animal enjoys’. Hmmmm, that’s a tiny itsy bitsy odd, isn’t it? The notions are different! Person, animal, or ‘life’ ≠ spiritual part of a person or part of a person that is not physical. Oh my, oh my…we need to double check that!


Yes, fellow elves! The connotations that the English “soul” commonly carries in the minds of most persons are not in agreement with the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words as used by the inspired Bible writers. This fact has steadily gained wider acknowledgment. Back in 1897, in the Journal of Biblical Literature (Vol. XVI, p. 30), Professor C. A. Briggs, as a result of detailed analysis of the use of ne′phesh, observed: “Soul in English usage at the present time conveys usually a very different meaning from נפש [ne′phesh] in Hebrew, and it is easy for the incautious reader to misinterpret.”

Read it again out loud:

easy for the incautious reader to MISinterpret

Houston, Rome, Jerusalem, Cairo, Valinor….we have a HUGE problem here! We found a root! A root for misinterpretations and consequently misunderstandings. Many religions (I’m not gonna point fingers, ok? No names necessary. Respect above all) base their belief in the teaching that the soul lives on even when the material body dies. Most of those religions declare that they base their beliefs on Bible. Now, you definitely see the problem here!!!!! Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek. The original words ne′phesh [נֶפֶשׁ] & psy·khe′ [ψυχή] are NOT compatible with the idea of English ‘soul’, so how is that possible? Is there any actual Biblical text that supports the common notion of nowadays or is it REALLY a (mis)interpretation/(mis)understanding issue?

to be continued…




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Filed under Bible, English, Greek, Hebrew, Linguistics, Mystery, Quenya

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