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Bible and the Emotions, The

In the history of Western thought, the emotions have usually been subordinate in importance to the reason. In the Platonic tradition, emotion has even been regarded as the enemy of reason, judgment, truth and morality; the emotions needed to be controlled by the reason. Despite the classic insistence of the Scottish philosopher David Hume, in his Treatise of Human Nature (1740), that ’reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them’, our culture tends to polarize reason and emotion.What of the biblical cultures? The first task is linguistic: to map the language of the emotions against current taxonomies of alleged universal emotions (fear and shame have distinctive contours in biblical texts). The second task is more psychological: to weigh the importance of emotions in biblical thought, wondering why this rich vein of human experience so well attested in the texts has never before been mined. The third task is more philosophical: to reconceive the role of the emotions in human life in the light of the biblical literature.

Author(s):  Clines, David J. A.
Format:  Presentation
Date:  2001