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Article of the Week

The Latter-day Saint Reimaging of "the Breath of Life" (Genesis 2:7)
July 3, 2017
Article of the Week
The Latter-day Saint Reimaging of "the Breath of Life" (Genesis 2:7)
Dana M. Pike

This daily feature is the introduction to a full article by Dana M. Pike that was published in our newest issue, 56:2. To read the full text of this article, follow the link below.

The creation and flood accounts in Genesis in the Hebrew Bible (the Christian Old Testament) contain variations on a phrase commonly translated "the breath of life." This phrase additionally occurs in some uniquely Latter-day Saint materials relating to creation. After overviewing and analyzing this phrase and its meaning in the Bible, this paper then examines the occurrences of the phrase "the breath of life" in important early Latter-day Saint texts. The purpose of this study is to illustrate and explain how and why many Latter-day Saints have come to often employ the phrase "the breath of life," transforming its traditional biblical meaning into a new, Restoration-oriented use referencing the embodiment of the first human’s premortal spirit and, by extension, the embodiment of all other people's spirits.

Therefore, this is not a broad study of the all the issues related to the creation of the first humans on this earth. Rather, my effort is to make sense of one phrase, "the breath of life," and of what seems to be a conflicting understanding and usage of this phrase.