Antonio quotes a lot of statistics to make this point. But in the end, statistics alone don't win the argument. I'd like to point out 3 significant issues with Antonio's argument.
1) Where's Jesus?
Antonio says: [The Greek reader] obviously would not consider the meaning “salvation from hell” for the Greek words “soteria” and “sozo” (salvation and save, respecively [sic]) as the first, knee-jerk option when he read it. This would be especially true for the early Jewish Christian readers of James, absorbed as they would have been both in Koine Greek and the Septuagint (which was read in their synagogues). He bases this on the age of James (it was written fairly early on), its audience (which is primarily Jewish), and the meanings of those words in the Septuagint (LXX).
Sounds pretty convincing, except for one thing: Jesus.
The Jews were waiting for the Messiah, the conquering king, to come and deliver them. Over and over, they looked for a temporal deliverance. Yet Jesus teaching about salvation is one of spiritual deliverance, not a physical one. For example, at Christmas, we often hear quoted Matthew 1:21 "And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people...". From what? Their oppressors? No--"their sins." Jesus came to seek and to save--not just temporally, but spiritually, and eternally.
Now I am sorry to say that, at the moment, I don't have the resources to purchase the software necessary to do the searches on every occurrence of a word in the New Testament. If someone does, and would like to help, it would be appreciated. Until that time, I will not state the affirmative without knowing it to be true; instead, I will just say that Jesus actually talked about saving in a soteriological sense, and that since James was his (half) brother, I think it is a fair assumption that Jesus' teaching had some impact on his brother, as much if not more than the Septuagint.
The principle of progressive revelation stands with me on this, BTW.
(As a late entry in this category, I'll submit Antonio's post on NT occurrences of σῴζω. You can review all of the instances for yourself, paying special attention to who speaks about physical/temporal deliverance, and who speaks about spiritual.
But don't take Antonio's word for what is what--read the passage and context, and then decide for yourself. For instance, Matthew 18:11, speaking about seeking and saving that which was lost, Antonio puts in the temporal category--the calling of the nation of Israel to repentance. But Antonio ignores the real context of this passage, which in Matthew 18 is talking about the Kingdom of heaven, and he mentions a parallel in Luke 15, about repentance, but again, the context seems, to me at least, to be speaking about spiritual salvation, not temporal.)
2) Lexical meaning of ψυχή
Antonio says: BAGD (2nd Edition, 1958, pg 893), the standard Greek lexicon, gives the entries “of life on earth in its external, physical aspects” and “earthly life itself” for psyche (soul/life).
First of all, BAGD (as the second edition is known) was published in 1979, not 1958. It certainly must be the second edition (the one I don't have), because BAG has the entry on pg. 901. But Antonio's quote here leaves out a lot of context--sort of like if I boiled down the definition of love to "deep affection for someone."
In any case, here's a better idea of what ψυχή means, from BDAG (that's the third edition, published in 2000).
BDAG has definitions separated into broad categories, followed by more specifics within a category. It provides three broad categories for ψυχή (all formatting in the original, unless otherwise noted; for the sake of space, time, and copyright, I'm only including the first three sub-entries for each entry):
1. life on earth in its animating aspect making bodily function possible
In this category, it includes
a) breath of life, life-principle, soul, of animals;
b) the condition of being alive, earthly life, life itself;
c) by metonymy, that which possess life/soul; a living creature
2. seat and center of the inner human life in its many varied aspects, soul
In this category, it includes
a) of the desire for luxurious living
b) of evil desires
c) of feelings and emotions
3. an entity w. personhood, person ext. of 2 by metonymy everyone
It's important to note that the folks that produce this volume don't assert these things in a vacuum; they put references in for each and every entry--giving the lexical reason why they believe the word means what it does.
They list James 1:21 under #2, letter "d," with the following entry:
d. as the seat and center of life than transcends the earthly.
The BDAG folks appear to be on the side of this being more than a merely temporal deliverance.
Alexander Souter, whose small lexicon I consider to be a real gem, despite its age (and is available for free download from this page), has this to add to our discussion:
In the LXX, there is, in general, a lack of sharp distinction between ψυχή (lit. breath [cf. anima], breath of life in the individual), πνεῦμα and καρδία, though ψυχή general refers to appetite and desire; it is there as a rule a translation of the Hebrew nephesh, one of the words for the 'breath-soul', the personal soul; in Paul, soul (ψυχή) and spirit (πνεῦμα) are hardly to be distinguished (yet cf. I Cor. XV 45): . . .The general use of the word in the Bible is in the sense of whatever is felt to belong most essentially to man's life, when his bodily life has come to be regarded as a secondary thing. It comes near the modern conception, self.
I think it's fair to say that if it does mean temporal deliverance in James, it is a marked exception, not the foregone conclusion Antonio makes it sound like.
OK, before we leave #2 here, just one other note here that concerns what we've just looked at.
You can clearly see that a single word can have a variety of meanings. Linguists call this a "semantic range;" if you clicked on the link for the definition of love above, you'll see 21 different meanings.
But perhaps an easier way to understand (and remember) it is like this: I love my wife, and I love blogging. You implicitly know that I'm talking about two different things, even when I use the same word.
It's possible to make an error, especially if what you're reading is not your first language (like when I read that "the Word became meat" in John 1:14); but it may also happen when reading reading a literal translation, if we automatically assume that the same word will always mean exactly the same thing, regardless of the context.
Here's why I bring this up: Antonio says that James 1:21 is the first instance of “sozo” in his epistle, and can give an indication of the type of “saving” he has in mind in the remainder. This is true, up to a point.
But consider here Luke 12:19-20, quoted from the NKJV.
And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’
Is it reasonable to state that both uses of soul here are the same? No. In fact, the NIV renders the first one "myself," and the second one "life." So we must be careful to make sure the context fits what we say it means.
Therefore, we cannot just take it for granted that James is using the word in the same sense each time he uses it in his letter--we must look at the context.
3) Translation of ψυχή in James 1:21
You've already read part of the issue, if you read Frank's Question 4 on Debate Blog.
The bottom line is this: these translators are not dummies, and Frank didn't just use literal translations, which (according to Dynamic Equivalence advocates) have a tendency to under-translate; if they thought it should be "life" instead of "soul," they could and would have put it there. No one translates it "life" because that's not the best fit, in context.
So, while Antonio wants to make this an argument between knowledgeable, linguistic-savvy Free Grace Advocates and Lordship Salvation and Reformed Soteriologists who are unwilling to do careful lexical work and instead import a present-day understanding of "save the soul" into the text, it is actually between well over 400 years of translators from all theological persuasions stacked up against two people with a clear agenda and an interest in making the text say something that supports their assertions.
Update: Unbeknownst to me, Centuri0n was also working on a response to Antonio's post. If I did my math right, he was up almost as late as I was working on part 1.
He has just posted part 2, which includes a scan of BAGD's entry for ψυχή (the paper one is BAGD--the one Antonio quotes from; the BibleWorks one is BDAG--same as the one I quoted above). This is particularly important since Antonio has thus far refused to answer my question about what BAGD itself says about James 1:21. Regardless of your feelings about what I've written in this post, you owe it to yourself to compare what Antonio says BAGD says with what it actually says. Then ask yourself,"Is this the kind of rigorous research that I want to rely on?"