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Article
September 28, 1929

WHEN THE SOUL ENTERS THE BODY

JAMA. 1929;93(13):1009. doi:10.1001/jama.1929.02710130049029

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Abstract

To the Editor:  —Regarding the period when the human soul enters the embryo, Dr. Swinton correctly emphasizes (The Journal, September 7, p. 788) that, according to Catholic theologians, it is present from the moment the spermatozoon unites with the ovum. It may be of interest to your readers to be referred to an ancient authority.The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who was a great stoic philosopher, was a close friend of Rabbi Yehudah Ha'Nassi, the renowned redactor of the Mishnoh. It is related in the Talmud (Sanhedrin p. 91b) that Marcus Aurelius once asked the rabbi when the soul enters the human body, at the moment of fertilization, or when the embryo is completely formed. The rabbi answered: "When the embryo is formed.""Is it possible that a piece of lifeless flesh can lie even three days without salt and not become putrefied?" retorted the emperor, "it must be, then,

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