Jefferson Vann explains why the Bible warns people not to go near any dead souls.
Lev 21:9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by whoring, profanes her father; she will be burned with fire.
Lev 21:10 “The priest who is most influential among his brothers, on whose head the anointing oil is poured and who has been consecrated to wear the garments, will not let the hair of his head hang loose nor tear his clothes.
Lev 21:11 He will not go near any dead souls nor make himself unclean, even for his father or for his mother.
Lev 21:12 He will not go out of the sanctuary, or else he profane the sanctuary of his God, because the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him: I am Yahveh.
avoid any dead souls
It is in the context of rules governing priestly consecration that we find this restriction. The priest who is active in his role must avoid any dead souls. In other words, if he has a relative who dies, he cannot leave the sanctuary to attend the funeral. To do so would be coming in contact with a dead soul, and thus becoming ceremonially contaminated. This is only one of the numerous passages in scripture which refute the common notion of immortal souls. By definition an immortal soul cannot die. So, if you must hold to Plato’s philosophical view of human immortality, at least do so with integrity. Do not claim that you hold that view because it is biblical. Human beings are only potentially immortal. When we die, all of us dies. When Christ raises believers from the dead, then we will have immortal souls.
You see, the common idea of a soul — an immaterial element contrasted with the body as the material element — comes from a metaphor. Back in the ancient near east, if someone wanted to talk about the life a person has compared to the body which has it, they would talk about the throat (Hebrew nefesh). The idea was not that the life within was indestructible. It was just a way of talking about the whole person as a breathing organism. That is why nefesh was used to talk about a person who was alive. That person was called a living throat (nefesh chayay). But a dead person was called a dead throat (nefesh met). Modern translations normally render it something like “dead person” or “dead body.” Traditionalists are not comfortable with the phrase “dead soul” because it reveals a mistake in their thinking.
That mistake is still very common, as we see when we go to funerals. People are more comfortable talking about the deceased as if a part of them is still alive. But the gospel promise is not survival at death, but resurrection unto a permanent life.
LORD, the fate of our souls is in your hands; thank you for the promise of eternal life.