Flesh (in the OT)
See also Flesh
A second fig. use of the term “flesh” involved a rhetorical device known as metonymy, which is somewhat different from synecdoche. Instead of naming the thing itself, metonymy describes it in terms of some significant accompaniment or adjunct; whereas in synecdoche the name substituted is generally cognate in meaning, in metonymy the meaning is often less closely related to the substituted term. In the latter figure the instrument can do duty for the agent, the container for the thing contained, the maker for the thing made, the name of a passion for the object of desire, and so on. By using bāsār or se'ēr in this way the Hebrews could think of “flesh” in terms of natural or family relationships. Thus Adam spoke of his helpmeet as specifically “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (
From the comprehensive concept of “flesh” as representative of the people (
The OT theology of human personality, noted above, is of a dynamic order which emphasizes the psycho-physical unity of human nature. Although this “flesh” was regarded in the OT as generally weak, there is no single element in Heb. thought which corresponds to the NT view of the “flesh” as the central principle of fallen humanity. While the flesh for the Hebrews was frail, it was not regarded as sinful, and the nearest approach to the idea of moral weakness seems to be in
J. A. T. Robinson, The Body (1952), 11-16; N. W. Porteous, IDB, II, 276; J. A. Motyer, Baker’s Dictionary of Theology (1960), 222f.