The correlation between concepts of human spirit, soul, heaven, and God presented by Greek philosophers and the fundamental principles of Christianity is awing. If there were such a thing as copyright laws at the time, Christianity would be battling a tough legal case. While the parallels are evident, Christianity’s perversion or adaptation of the soul, building upon Platonists’ intent of abstract concepts (Forms), morphed the religion into a new way of life and perspective of the soul and world.
The Old Testament is largely a creation story and description of God. God is a single true reasonable being (relatable to the embodiment of Parmenides’ cosmic heaven and Plato’s Forms), existing as a perfect conception unlimited by the material / empirical world. God created heaven and earth; the reasonable and empirical. Man is introduced upon earth and created in God’s image, but having no knowledge, or need of knowledge. Man is then stricken with peril as he becomes aware of himself through sin—disobeying God by eating from the tree of knowledge and gaining an understanding of “good” and “bad” (reasonable and empirical). This self-awareness hints of an “I”, consciousness, or spirit.
The New Testament attempts to explain man’s spirit (soul) and its obligation of atonement for his sin (self-awareness—knowledge of the reasonable and empirical). The soul is defined as pre-existent to the body and otherworldly, just as Platonists described; and exists as a dualism, the body and soul being separate from each other (reasonable and empirical).
Christianity divides from Greek tradition through its fulfillment of the soul. Christian doctrine emphasizes the soul’s duty as interpreting of the will of God; an exercise that is purely reasonable, at the expense of natural instincts of the material body. Rather than a pursuit of physical well-being and self-fulfillment as described in The Good by the Greeks, the job of the Christian soul is obeying God’s commandments, self-denial, and focusing one’s attention on achieving immortality in the afterlife. By obeying the interpretation of the will of God, a pre-described authoritative pursuit outlined through moral principles, the soul will be re-accepted back into heaven after death.
The Christian model inherently devalues empirical existence (body) and natural life, focusing on reasonable conceptions and immortality of the soul—the soul used as a bargaining chip of control and servitude rather than individual fulfillment or well-being. The only way to achieve well-being, or “completeness”, through Christianity is after the physical (empirical) death of the body.