Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Genesis, "The Breath of Life, " Biblical studies


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.1 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.

Original Publication Citation

Pike, Dana M. "The Latter-day Saint Reimaging of 'the Breath of Life' (Genesis 2:7)," BYU Studies Quarterly 56, no. 2 (2017)

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


BYU Studies Quarterly




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor